Welcome to The Sankofa Projects blogspot!!!

"In the spirit of SANKOFA...Reach Back and Fetch your history & your culture so that you will take purposeful steps into the future."

~ Chadra Pittman, Founder & Executive Director

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

“I JUST WANT to LIVE!!!!!”

Ancestor Nina Simone said that, “the responsibility of an artist is to use their platform to reflect the times.” During this fight for the the preservation of black and brown lives, lives which have been killed with impunity, my hope is that we each find a way to use our voices for change. Some will take it to the streets, some will march, some will write books, create music or work to change legislation—we each must use our art to sound the alarm that racism and injustice will no longer be tolerated. Movements are happening across the world to acknowledge the brutality that has been imposed on black and brown bodies for hundreds of years. Thank you to my dear and talented brother Clarence Gabriel who has chosen to create a photo movement called...”#ijustwanttolive”. He asked me to finish this statement “I just want to live to...” and here was my response... “I just want to raise my children in a world that is safe, intolerant of injustice, where the -isms and the -phobias no longer exist, where their humanity is acknowledged & their blackness is not feared but revered.”- Chadra Pittman Thank you Clarence for using your platform in such a powerful way. I am sure Ancestor Nina is proud of you beloved!!! I love you my brother! IG: @ijustwant2live #ijustwant2live #ijustwanttolive photographer: @clrncgbrl 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dear White America...

Dear White America, We are in the midst of a pandemic and a fight against racial injustice in America and all over the world. This is a time like we’ve never seen before. African descended people aka Black parents have spent generations upon generations talking to our children about the reality of racism and the myriad of inequities that have plagued our collective lives.
Now it’s your turn... European American parents... White parents... Parents of white children... White America... You need to talk to your children IMMEDIATELY!!!! The lack of empathy for a life lost is horrifyingly despicable!!! Seeing images on line with your children mimicking George Floyd’s death and showing their lack of compassion speaks volumes. The names have been blurred bc they are children and faces distorted bc they are children.
I implore you to: 1. Sit them down and educate yourselves and them on the truth about American history, the genocide of Native Americans and the brutal enslavement of Africans. 2. If you are one who believes America is great, well then kindly remind your children that America wouldn’t be so “great” without hundreds of years of free labor by Africans! 3. If you are unable to teach them or yourselves, sign up for an African American history course, visit a Black museum, watch some documentaries on The Burning of Black Wall Street, redlining & institutional systemic racism or attend a lecture to become more informed. This utter ignorance, racism and lack of compassion by these children is a huge problem and they didn’t get this way by themselves. Teach them that white supremacy exists, that it is wrong and that they don’t have to fall prey to that ideology. Teach them to respect all humans and creatures on this Earth and to be good custodian of the planet. Teach them that their skin is of no more value than anyone else’s. The truth is that someone taught them that there is privilege in the pigmentation of their skin color, that this horrific behavior was ok or allowed racism to be spoken in your homes and communities.
Clearly, America and the world has a “race problem”; W.E.B. DuBois said that in The Soul of Black Folk in 1903. The only way we can eradicate racism is if we each do our part & confront it without hesitation! My white comrades and parents, WE need you to do your part!!! THE children, all of our children need us to get this right!!!! The collective future of us ALL is depending on it!!! Thank you! A human being with African and Native roots, Warrior Mother, Intersectional feminist and proud aunt to many wonderful children. Chadra #BlackLivesMatter #Humanity 4 E.V.E.R. The Sankofa Projects

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Ignorance of America

While history proves and let the records show that: 1. the enslavement of human beings was global 2. many ethnic groups/cultures of people suffered at the hands of those in power 3. “slavery”was also not specific to Africans, I am sure her reference to “slavery” is ethnocentric in nature and is referring to what occurred to Africans here in the USA. (Refer to number 1) That having been said...you can feel however you want to about the stay at home order but when you compare a month to 6 week government imposed lockdown for your safety to over 400 years of a brutal enslavement, an international trade and kidnapping, amputations, castrations, torture, rape, lynching of human beings, the drowning of millions of my Ancestors in the Middle Passage...you have gone too damn far!!!!!! We have seen the blatant racism and heightened xenophobia before and since this pandemic surfaced. The arrogance and ignorance of these Americans is embarrassing. This is why African American history NEEDS to be a part of American History curriculum not just reserved for February. Chadra Pittman I found this image on Facebook on April 24, 2020. Photo credit unknown

Thursday, April 23, 2020


Personally, I have no interest in testing people’s loyalties. People whom I identify as my comrades/my people/my tribe are just that and their loyalty has NEVER had to be tested. Reciprocity is important to me in my relationships. I come from a tribe where we show up for one another without question!!! The reality is nothing is as it was and we are all adjusting to a new normal so I will use this time to give people grace and space. If that person is important enough to you, then maybe a conversation is warranted to check in if you haven’t heard from them. Now is not the time to play the waiting “game” to see who will call first. The reality is if folks were unavailable, fair weathered aka “raggedy” with their communication and friendship then most likely they will remain that way during a pandemic. If they have shown you that they support you, you will know that also. People have always shown us EXACTLY who they are. We are the ones who make excuses for them then we act surprised and are disappointed and hurt when they don’t show up. The onus is on us to pay attention to people’s behavior. Ancestor Maya Angelou said that “when people show you who they are, believe them...the FIRST time.” Right now, humans need to focus on our individual and collective health, our human and animal community, the Earth and her creatures, our spiritual and physical and mental wellness and pray/light sage/mediate/whatever you do to seek peace and balance, fight for the safety of our first responders that they get what they need and put our efforts and energy that we as a humanity and our whole world heal from this. Thanks for this post James DeVille. Blessings brother and wishing you all wellness and peace of mind and spirit beloveds!!!! ☮️ πŸ’œπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ’¦πŸ’¦πŸ‘‹πŸΎπŸ‘‹πŸΎπŸ’¦πŸ’¦πŸ˜·πŸ˜·πŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ’œ

Saturday, February 22, 2020

African American History is American History and Black History Month is EVERY month!!!

I was invited by the most wonderful human being, former teacher of my children,who became my friend Mrs. Aimee Cawley Ryder to come to Aberdeen Elementary School in Hampton to give a presentation to her class. I used to volunteer in her classroom at Luther W. Machen Elementary School and she was an incredible teacher. We’ve kept in touch over the years and she asked if I would come to her class and speak with her students. Of course I said yes... I was honored to do so. I talked with them about the field of Anthropology and my work at the African Burial Ground National Monument, brought African artifacts for them to hold from Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal and instruments for them to play and we discussed world geography locating African countries on the map while listening to South African Queen Mother Miriam Makeba. I’ve been teaching for almost 35 years now from 3rd grade to college classes and senior groups from church groups to those who are incarcerated. Every time I teach, I am reminded of the joy I feel giving back...and with the youth, telling them how special they each are and reminding them of the great culture and civilization they come from. Thank you my dear friend for inviting me to spend time with your class and thank you for the handmade gift and card from the students which I will treasure. #BlackHistoryMonthisEveryMonth #Humanity #AfricanAmericanHistoryIsAmericanHistory This is a HUGE part of my life’s work and the work of The Sankofa Projects !!!! 4 EVER!!!!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Breaking Ground to Unearth our Past From the NY African Burial Ground to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens: Groundbreaker's 2019 Ceremony

On Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 11:00am, the Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG) honored the 200 African American women and 20 African American men who literally broke ground, cut down trees, cleared what was a swamp land and warded off snakes to create the beautiful Norfolk Botanical Gardens. They worked year round, through the harsh winters and unbearably hot summers so they could plant the beautiful azaleas which we enjoy today. After the Garden was complete, these 220 African Americans were not allowed to visit the garden and enjoy the beauty they created because of the racist laws of Jim Crow segregation.
11 years ago, the NBG decided that they would honor these people, referred to as Ground breakers, who are now all Ancestors. Annually, they have a ceremony and bring the families of those Groundbreakers together to honor what these 220 people gave to the city of Norfolk. This has been an untold story of the history of Norfolk and of the Garden which the NBG does not want to be buried any longer.
The story of the Gardner's moved me as many of you know my Anthropologicial work began with a literal groundbreaking that unearthed 419 Africans excavated from a 17th century African Burial Ground in NY. The bones of these enslaved Africans remained hidden under the streets of lower Manthattan for centuries. My job as a Public Educator and Media Coordinator was to educate the public about this untold history of these Africans in colonial New York. My sacred and scholarly work for the past nearly 30 has been centered around excavating history, honoring Ancestors, giving voice to the untold stories like the Africans in Colonial NY and through my work with Remembrance, honoring the millions of Africans who perished during the Middle Passage and ensuring that the historical record reflects these narratives and their contributions. Anually, we remember these Africans and restore their humanity through Remembrance. We walk around our "Tree of Remembrance" as a part of the ceremony because we have not forgotten our roots, our history, culture nor these beloved Ancestors. Members of Sankofa and the community embraced Remembrance in 2012 and give their time and talents to honor our Ancestors...annually we gather at Buckroe Beach to remember them. So grateful for those whom this story has touched and who support these works to honor these Ancestors. (please join us for our 8th Annual Remembrance Saturday, June 8, 2019 at 11am...for more information visit www.thesankofaprojects.blogspot.com For 8 years now, I have lectured across the United States on this work of Remembrance and I create Remembrance ceremonies which honor people, the famous and the forgotten, historic & sacred places which hold memory of what happened there and critical time periods in history which continue to shape and influence our lives today. I am beyond honored to share that I have been chosen by the Norfolk Botanical Gardens as a 2019 Recipient of the Groundbreakers Award for my work with The Sankofa Projects, Remembrance, and 4 E.V.E.R.
This is a full circle moment for me to be honored in honor of these 200 women and 20 African American men, who are now Ancestors who laid the foundation for this majestic garden as giving voice to untold history and honoring the our beloved Ancestors is my sacred work.
With NBG CEO Michael Desplaines
Dear family friend, Dr. Warren Buck
Sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Dearest of friends Edris, Imani and her spouse Grateful to the Norfolk Botanical Garden for this honor. Grateful to my dear friends and family for their support who traveled near and far and sent love and well wishes across the miles. Grateful I am to the Ancestors and for setting me on this path to do this sacred work.