"In the spirit of Sankofa, reach back and fetch your history
and your culture."
~ Chadra Pittman Walke

Monday, February 20, 2017

98 Years of Grace- Monumental Bench and Historical Marker Unveiled to Honor NASA Mathematician Dr. Katherine G. Johnson

The brilliant, beautiful and always elegant Dr. Katherine G. Johnson, NASA Pioneer who is credited with major space flights and calculated the trajectory for Neil Armstrong's historic flight to and from the moon was honored by the National Technical Association and The Sankofa Projects in conjunction with the Hampton Conventions and Visitors Bureau and Hampton Parks and recreation on Friday, August 26th at 2pm at Carousel Park in Hampton, VA with an Unveiling and Dedication ceremony. PHOTO credit Annie Leibovitz- Vanity Fair article by Charles Bolden
She is the best of American history, breaking racial and gender barriers at NASA and helping America win the Space Race with her legendary calculations. What better day to bestow her this honor than on her 98th Birthday!!!!
Students of Alpha Academy in Fayetville, NC and the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. which Dr. Johnson has been a member for 84 years came out to support their soror Dr. Johnson
Over 200 guests traveled from as far as West Virginia, New York and North Carolina to celebrate Dr. Johnson's accomplishments and her 98th birthday!!!! Thank you to the Johnson family for sharing Dr. Johnson with us, thanks to all who attended and to those who sent well wishes, Mayor Tuck, Vice Mayor Curtis, Council People, Delegates and the Luci, Seamus and Elke from the Hampton History museum for your support. Thank you to Kianga Thomas and the men of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Zeta Lambda who supported the event and parted the way for Dr. Johnson to enter the tent. Thank you to her sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority who came to congratulate Dr. Johnson. Thanks to the amazing photographer Bill Thomas of Thirdiimage for the beautiful images!!! Thank you to Robin McCormick and Woube of Round Robin and all the press who covered the event. Thanks to all for joining us for this grand occasion and this historic event honoring a remarkable woman!!!! #WomenMakingHistory #SheBrokeRacialAndGenderBarriers #NASAPioneer #AKA84years #20Pearls #NTA #SANKOFA

Monday, January 9, 2017

What Do You Have Patience For ?

I am a self identified logohile ~ a lover of words. Words speak to me in the deepest ways and can make me feel the full array of emotions from utter pain to immense joy. I love how words can transform perspectives, break down stereotypes and offer a new way to see the world. Words can begin wars and end romances. Words can leave scars that can puncture so deeply and hopefully, words can ultimately heal. A few years back, I came across this quote and fell in love with it. The words resonated deeply with my soul and when I learned these words were claimed to be the words of Meryl Streep, I was even more enchanted by them as I have deep admiration for her. Then I learned that these words were not Meryl's words but were the words of a "Portuguese self-help author/life coach José Micard Teixeira – not a woman, and not an elder, but a younger man." (http://seniorplanet.org/how-the-internet-put-a-powerful-quote-in-meryl-streeps-mouth/) These words still poignant made me think about how what we speak, share, freely give to others whether it be love or our intellectual property can be stolen from us. I am grateful that Teixeira gifted us with these words. I am glad that Streep's popularity allowed for the words to circulate and gain the momentum that they did over the internet and I am glad to know the truth for whom I should express gratitude for these words that feel like a mantra for me. Enjoy and I hope these words speak to your spirit too. “I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” by José Micard Teixeira Thank you Teixeira!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Remembering Freedom Fighter & Liberator Nat Turner at The Khalifah Kujichaguilia Village

On Sunday, November 13, 2016, The Sankofa Projects honored the legend, freedom fighter and liberator on the 185th year marking his execution which was on November 11, 1831. We gathered on the land where Nat Turner was born and plotted the historic rebellion in Southampton, VA. When I founded The Sankofa Projects in 2012, I created this organization as a vehicle for the community to "REACH BACK and FETCH"- true to the meaning of SANKOFA--FETCH our history, culture and spirituality. Throughout the year, we host educational and cultural programs and engage in social justice work as we believe that as Brian Stevenson says that "slavery didnt end---it evolved." We also honor the pioneers that paved the way like NASA Pioneer Katherine Johnson, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Pearl Bailey and countless others who changed the course of history. Through our annual event, REMEMBRANCE which we created in 2012, we gather at Buckroe to pay homage to the millions of African ancestors who lost their lives, were thrown into or jumped to their deaths resisting slavery during the Middle Passage. SANKOFA's work honors the past, present and looks to the future. We fill in the missing pages of the historical record so that history reflects those Africans who have contributed and have not received their recognition. When I first learned of the Nat Turner film- I was so excited to see the film. Unfortunately with the resurfacing of the rape allegations, I decided that I could not financially support the film as I don't support any aspect of rape culture--regardless of acquittal. Remember Travyon Martin, Sandra Bland's and Freddie Gray's murders were acquitted so acquittal doesn't mean innocence. For me, I could not support but I respected others decisions to see the film. I decided three weeks ago, that if I am not to see the film--how can I fulfill this desire to learn more of this history and create an opportunity for others to learn and decided that the time was now for us to visit the land and learn for ourselves the story of Nat Turner. My job as an educator is to teach and as a community organizer to create spaces for education and healing and activism. The time was now to take the pilgrimage. I created a flyer and people graciously shared it. Thank you for sharing the event. Some of us caravanned to the site, some met us there, 2 sistahs drove from Washington, DC to participate in this event. Some travelled on their own and we all convened at the Nat Turner Library. My spirit is still on FIRE and heart is FULL from the day. We were educated by Elder Brother Halif Khalif Khalifah, we visited historic sites, we talked and broke bread together and learned the true history of Nat Turner from his bloodline. We drummed, shekered, poured libations on the ground and HONORED this warrior and the other ancestors who gave their lives for freedom!!! We engaged in a great discussion about the film and Ancestor Nat's life. We closed the day with the beginning of the red moon. Grateful, honored, inspired !!!
I am eternally grateful those of you who joined Sankofa on this inaugural trip to the Nat Tuner Land. Thank you again Elder Khalifah for opening your doors and liberating our minds. This event was the first of SANKOFA's annual pilgrimage to the Kujichaguilia Village so stay tuned for what is next beloveds. I was called to do this work honoring the Ancestors 25 years ago when I began my work at the New York African Burial Ground and I am honored and humbled to do this work still. #Whispers #LiveYourPassion #HonoringAncestors #NatTurner #SANKOFA

Sunday, August 28, 2016

FRONT PAGE Coverage by Mike Holtzclaw of the Daily Press

Thanks to Mike Holtzclaw for this coverage in the Daily Press!!! Thank you Bill Thomas of Thirdiimage for the photo of the Bench plaque. Bench photo courtesy of The Sankofa Projects

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Unveiling and Dedication to honor NASA Pioneer Dr. Katherine G. Johnson on Friday, August 26th 2:00pm

Unveiling and Dedication to Honor NASA Pioneer Katherine G. Johnson Friday, August 26, 2016 - 2:00pm Carousel Park, 610 Settlers Landing Rd. Hampton, VA The National Technical Association, Inc. (NTA) and The Sankofa Projects, in conjunction with the Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) will host an Unveiling and Dedication of a bench and historical marker to honor NASA Mathematician & NASA Pioneer Katherine G. Johnson. The Unveiling and Dedication of the bench and marker will also celebrate the 98th birthday of Dr. Johnson. All are invited to attend this community event which is free and open to the public. After 33 years at NASA where Johnson worked as a Research Mathematician, she broke racial and gender barriers and became known for her legendary calculations. The precision of her calculations contributed to the orbits/trajectories of early space travel, including the historic orbits of Alan Sheppard and first flights to and from the moon. In 2015, Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama for her role and contributions to the Space Program. In 2008, the National Technical Association, Inc. raised funds for a bench to be erected in Johnson’s honor and in 2015, The Sankofa Projects hosted a reception to honor Johnson at the Hampton History Museum where Johnson was featured in their exhibit, “The Truth About Women: Myth or Reality.” In 2015, the NTA, an organization dedicated to minorities in engineering and technology and The Sankofa Projects, an educational, cultural and social justice organization, joined forces to make the bench a reality and thus The Katherine G. Johnson Bench Project was born. On February 20, 2016, The NTA and The Sankofa Projects hosted an unveiling of the bench at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, VA where over 200 guests and dignitaries filled the venue to pay tribute to Johnson. The historical marker is a contribution donated by the CVB to contextualize the bench. Join us as we honor Dr. Johnson with these permanent fixtures as we celebrate one of Hampton Roads greats! For more information, contact Chadra Pittman Walke ~ chadrapw@gmail.com ~ 757-816-1579 or Michael Chapman ~ 757-344-3908 ~ machapman757@verizon.net ###

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Do All Black Lives Matter?

So I just got off the line with a dear friend who has been on the front lines of the #BLM movement for the past 2 years. I was disappointed and angered to hear, once again, of the maltreatment they received by a person who was in attendance at a recent rally. I am further bothered by the lack of support my friend received by the bystanders who stood silent, witnessed the exchange and instead of calling out and holding accountable the person who made the offense, it was my friend they tried to silence as they advocated for themself. Let me say this... For me, when I say #BlackLivesMatter this hashtag includes the lives of Travyon Martin, Rekia Boyd and Lamia Beard. This means that for me the #BLM movement includes Black Cis males, Black Cis females, Black Non Gender Conforming, Black Queer, and Black Trans lives. Everyone's life is of value to me!!!! Excluding LGBT in the Black Lives Movement is synonmous with excluding women from a feminist movement. What would the March on Washington have been without Bayard Rustin?
As Ancestor Audre said, "We don't live single issue lives..." so I believe that our movement should not focus on a single aspect which comprises our identity. We are multidimensional, beautiful and complex human beings. Shouldn't our movement reflect that??? For me if the #BLM (or any other movements) is not inclusive, is not respectful and does not protect nor advocate for All" Black Lives, if intersectionality is not at its core then it is not my movement. I need everyone's lives to be protected and respected! Period! Side note, remember that #BLM was founded by three black queer women. Yeah, look it up... #AllBlackLivesMatter #CheckYourPrivilege #HumanRightsAffordedToAll