Welcome to The Sankofa Projects blogspot!!!

"In the spirit of Sankofa, reach back and fetch your history
and your culture so that you will take purposeful steps into the future."
~ Chadra Pittman Walke

For more info or to schedule a program contact us:

757-317-0001

thesankofaprojects@gmail.com



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

C-SPAN Comes to Hampton...

On September 8th, I was invited by the Hampton History Museum to introduce Margot Lee Shetterly, author of "Hidden Figures" as she launched her book on C-SPAN in the city where Margot was born, Hampton, VA. With the work that I've done representing Dr. Katherine G. Johnson over the past two years, honoring Johnson at the Hampton History Museum, the VA Air and Space Center with the Bench dedication with the National Technical Association, it was my absolute pleasure to introduce Margot and take part in this momentous event. Johnson is a key figure in Margot's book highlighting the Black women mathematicians and engineers who helped change the Space race and put Armstrong on the moon. If you haven't read Hidden Figures, here's the link for Margot's website(www.margotleeshetterly.com) Thank you Margot for bringing the story of these remarkable women to light!!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Libation, Crafts and Education as Sankofa celebrates Hampton's Heritage Day on April 15, 2017

April 15th celebrates Hampton's Heritage Day and the International Children's Festival! For the 4th year, The Sankofa Project has participated in Hampton's Annual Heritage Day. This event, put on y the Hampton History Museum is a day of commemoration of the three cultures; the Native, the European settlers and the Africans, who laid the foundation for the city of Hampton! Heritage Day was formerly known as Landing Day which "celebrated" the English arrival. The HHM decided to expand the day to include the Native and the African who were integral to the foundation of the city. When I think about Hampton Day, I am immediately drawn to the sculpture created by Lawrence Noble which sits in Carousel Park. The statue has 3 depictions of three different cultures, facing three different directions. I've always thought the symbolism of the images on the statue facing different directions is symbolic for the three cultures, three perspectives, three histories that came together in this one place. The Native were already here in what we now call Hampton and for nearly 12,000 years all of the Commonwealth was Indian territory before European contact. The Europeans settlers came to the "New World" escaping religious persecution in search for a new life and then there are the millions of Africans who were brought against their will during the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade. Three different feelings about this land these three cultures would eventually call their home. I was invited to perform a Libation during the opening ceremony while Greg Stephenson gave the Native Thanksgiving Address. Seamus McGrann of the Hampton History Museum served as our emcee and is the arms and legs behind this event. The Sankofa Projects spent the day with children and their families making African inspired crafts, Storytelling and Educating the community about the importance of Heritage. During the Libation, I shared that while today April 15th is known as "Tax Day" for many this day represents something else. As part of the mission of Sankofa is to give voice to untold history, during the libation I shared that April 15, 1947 is also the day when Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier and stepped to the mound for the Dodgers. We can only imagine what that must've felt like for him...walking to the mound amidst jeers and racial epithets from some in the crowd and then the cheers from those were filled with pride at the accomplishment. This is the work of Sankofa- to fill in the missing pages of the historical record so that it accurately reflects the contributions which African descended people have made to America and the world. The story of #42 aka Jackie Robinson is one of those stories. Sadly history has neglected to acknowledge the plethora of people and cultures who have contributed to America and all these stories need to be known. As a humanity, our lives are richer when we can see the diversity of people who have changed the course of history. So today we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and I pour a libation for him. Robinson was a pioneer who paved the way in the midst of Jim Crow,a racially tumultuous time in this country and we honor his talent, courage and perseverance to reach his goals.
On this day, Hampton's Heritage Day, we enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day in our great city of Hampton; explored different cultures, enjoyed delicious cuisines from around the world, danced to National and International music, and at our Sankofa tent we kept the children and their families busy making African crafts and teaching them about the proverb of Sankofa and the importance of Heritage. It was a wonderful day for the community to come together and celebrate individual heritage and acknowledge our shared past. Crafts, Storytelling and Education by The Sankofa Projects
Image by Peter Cole
Legacy of Weyanoke performing Looking forward to next year!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

13 NEWS at Noon with Andre Senior promoting Heritage Day with Seamus McGrann

Seamus McGrann, Promotions Director of the Hampton History Museum and I appeared on Channel 13 at Noon to promote Hampton's Heritage Day! Thank you to Channel 13 and Andre Senior for this opportunity to share this event with the Hampton Roads community!!
We hope you will join us on Saturday, April 15 from 10am -5pm in Downtown Hampton. Event is free and open to the public. We are happy to host Heritage Day with the International Children's Festival again this year.

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