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Celebrating Local Black Heroes: Buddy Hannah

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan is proud to celebrate Local Black Heroes throughout the year. Sign up for our to get updates in your inbox and learn more about the impact of local heroes in your community.

Buddy Hannah is a Kalamazoo playwright, director, and poet. You may recognize him as the former host of Talk It Up Live, a social commentary radio program. The program aired on 95.5 FM The Touch from 1995 to his retirement in 2014.

A published poet, Hannah has published several books of poetry and one book of social commentary. Dr. Ben Wilson used Hannah’s book, Conversations from Elsa’s On The Park, in a course at Western Michigan University in the early ‘90s.


Hannah, former Executive Director and Board President for the Black Arts & Cultural Center, has served on several boards in Kalamazoo. He has led at The Arts Council of Kalamazoo and Face Off Theater, among many other agencies and organizations.

He strives to give back to the community by using his talents. “I feel that when you have had so many good things done for you, it only makes sense to do good things for others,” Hannah explains.

Buddy Hannah was decorated with both the Silver and Bronze Stars for his service in the Vietnam War.


Hannah has been inspired by Gail Sydnor, for whom a gallery in the Black Arts & Cultural Center is named, and Sid Ellis, another Local Black Hero featured by BBBS, as well as many others. He shares that those who inspire him “cared enough to take the time to help me and share their knowledge.”

Their willingness to share their knowledge impacted Hannah, influencing him to do the same. Just like his mentors, Hannah gives back by sharing his knowledge and “supporting the good deeds of others.”


Disconnecting one day a week is how Hannah practices self-care. This practice allows him to “relax my body but also my mind,” he shares.

When asked what he would share with his younger self, Hannah encourages, “Find out the type of person you want to be as early in life as possible. Try to define your purpose in life and become comfortable with yourself.”

Buddy Hannah’s generous willingness to share his talent, combined with the many plays, books, and poems he has written, will leave a lasting legacy on the Kalamazoo community.