Kazi Miah

From Bangladesh, Kazi Miah and his family moved to Queens, New York when he was nine years old. In search of a less expensive cost of living, his family decided to relocate when he was 18. The choice came down to Atlanta or Detroit. “People that lived here had positive things to say about Hamtramck,” he says, citing its sense of community, religious diversity and walkability as some of its positives. “I’m happy my dad moved here…my time and service are more valuable here than in New York — in New York, I’d be a needle in a haystack.” At the young age of 30, Miah has already left a mark. He quickly landed a job at a local branch of National City Bank, which is where he “started meeting people in the community,” he says. Now, he also owns a pizza parlor that blends Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern and American cuisines and runs an after school program for Bangladeshi youth. “When I moved here, I recognized a lack of youth guidance in the Bangledeshi community,” he says. Miah utilized the structure of an existing agency as a platform for his efforts, but believes the immigrant community could greatly benefit from structural assistance in starting such initiatives. Currently, most services, including education, translation, transportation and connectivity to agencies such as the Secretary of State and Social Security Administration are informal, but he sees a need for a “constructive organization” to lend a hand to newcomers just arriving. Bouyed by his business and community successes and inspired by the Barack Obama campaign that he volunteered for, Miah ran for a seat on the Hamtramck City Council in 2009. He started knocking on doors in search of votes from all demographics. “There was mean stuff, discouraging stuff, doors slammed in my face,” he says, but he ended up as the top vote-getter in the race and began his term in 2010. “I was a Muslim kid in a traditionally Polish Catholic town, but everyone voted for me — they saw me for who I am.”

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