Uzazi Village is nurturing Black mothers and birthing bodies, and fighting health inequities in Kansas City

By Kelcie McKenney

Sandra Thornhill came to Uzazi Village in 2018 when she was pregnant with her son Jerren Junior. 

“That’s where I met the co-founder and CEO of Uzazi Village, Mama Hakima,” Thornhill said of Uzazi Executive Director Hakmia Tafunzi Payne. She had stopped by for a labor and delivery class and got to talking to Payne about where she wanted to give birth. At the time, Thornhill wanted to have a home birth, but felt like going to the hospital was easier. 

“But [Payne], being the true, authentic, warrior sister that she is, called me out,” Thornhill recalled. It turned into an hour long conversation about the autonomy of Thornhill’s body and that she had every right to determine how she wanted her birth to take place.

“Two years later, that has taken me on a journey to always question, ‘Am I being the most true and authentic?’” Thornhills said. “So after having my son, who is a boy, I realized that my first child would be a Black male. And looking at the climate of the existence and history of Black men in America—not only in America, because I’ve traveled internationally—and seeing how the Black male was treated, that made me realize I don’t want him to have to wait until he’s 27 or 28 to realize that your voice matters.”

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