Comedian, Radio Host and Autism Activist Sheletta Brundidge Open Doors for Black Women and Drives Change Across Communities

By Lindsey Rose

Born and raised in the Fifth Ward, a historically Black neighborhood in Houston, Texas, Sheletta Brundidge grew up watching her family’s many acts of goodness. She witnessed her mom and aunties work hard at multiple jobs while remaining committed to caring for family and friends. Her great-grandmother started the first food pantry at their church, cooking meals for Freedom Riders.

Church played a significant role in Sheletta’s life’s work as well. She believes church is where Black women feel the safest—where they are loved, protected, reassured, and can create change. It is often the first place where many Black women have an opportunity and a title. It was the first place she spoke publicly and was applauded.

Because the women in her family were deeply marginalized, Sheletta often reflects on how they could have been successful entrepreneurs if they’d received a proper chance in the world. This, along with inspiration from other important Black voices throughout history who were recognized far too late, drives Sheletta. She is constantly making moves for Black women looking for opportunities.

In 2020, frustrated by the serious lack of diversity in traditional media and inability to find her own seat at the table, she built ShelettaMakesMeLaugh, a multimedia platform that produces and publishes weekly podcasts featuring Black experts, video and digital content, and social impact marketing campaigns that lend her credible voice to key legislation and issues. The platform’s name captures her essence as a comedic storyteller.

Sheletta uses her platform to bring community leaders, members and businesses together to create change and opportunities, from spearheading a job fair for adults with autism during National Disability Employment Awareness Month to advocating to end the sale of flavored commercial tobacco products to save Minnesota youth from a lifetime of tobacco addiction. Perhaps one of her best-known stories, which made her a social media phenomenon and garnered live coverage from NBC Nightly News, was when she publicly granted her son’s birthday wish for her to get a COVID vaccination after her initial reluctance.

One of her advocacy efforts came after losing five family members in Louisiana to carbon monoxide poisoning during Hurricane Laura. In addition to two cousins and two uncles, she lost a lifelong mentor and role model, her Aunt Rosalie. Rosalie was the first Black female supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service in Louisiana and the first woman Sheletta saw as a boss. After their deaths, she heard Roasalie’s voice in her head, encouraging her to turn tragedy into action. She drove to Louisiana and donated 2,000 children’s books to families who had lost everything in the storm.

When she later learned about a woman in Chicago who nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning and couldn’t afford a smoke detector, Sheletta continued to channel her grief into good to help people avoid devastating losses like hers. She worked with the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s office, leading a campaign to spread awareness on the importance of carbon monoxide detectors. The response was overwhelming, and First Alert and community members pitched in, donating smoke detectors to distribute free of charge to those in need.

Autism education and advocacy have also been core to Sheletta’s work. After initially seeking autism support in Texas for three of her four children and learning there was a 10-year waiting list to receive services, she found her way to Minnesota. She enlisted therapy services that gave her children and their entire family the breakthroughs they needed. She’s since become a resource of knowledge and guidance, creating a podcast to share information relevant to parents and families of autistic children.

Sheletta has authored four children’s books to date, all told through the lens of an autistic child, including “Andrew Does His Dance,” “Brandon Spots His Sign,” “Daniel Finds His Voice” and “Cameron Goes to School.” The books are inspired by real moments with her kids, as well as a desire to touch people’s hearts and help others who have social anxiety and autism.

She and her children also helped pass a Minnesota legislative bill introducing autism training for police officers to improve police encounters with nonverbal citizens and helped advocate for construction of sensory-friendly rooms in professional sports stadiums, including the Sensory Suite at Target Field.

Sheletta takes her work as a changemaker seriously and doesn’t want to miss out on any opportunities to help people. She’s fighting many of the issues her grandmother fought 50 years ago, and she believes that if young women are fighting the same things 50 years from now, she didn’t do her job. In addition to a busy broadcast career, she has been featured in news coverage across the country and received numerous accolades, including a USA Today’s Women of the Year award and an Anthem Award for leader of the year in the human and civil rights category.

To learn more about Sheletta’s business and her social impact work, visit www.shelettamakesmelaugh.com and follow @shelettabrundidge on Instagram. Her books are available at Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Photo credit: Sheletta Brundidge

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lindsey Rose is a mom, writer and longtime public relations professional. After recovering from colon cancer in 2012, she launched a communications consultancy that supports purpose-driven brands. She is a passionate autism awareness advocate, dog lover, yogi and cookie baking aficionado. Follow her on Instagram: @lindseyrosepr.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all. Publish Her specializes in print-on-demand books, workbooks, journals, magazines and more.

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