Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Liberated Minds Black Education and Homeschool Expo Wrap Up

 Queen Taese
What an apropos name for such a Warrior Mama!  Who but a homeschool mama would envision that there should be a homeschool conference dedicated solely to the needs of Afrikan people.  I know she had a lot of help, but with educating your own children, taking care of the home, being a wife and mother -- and you still want to add organizing a homeschool conference each year to your "to do" list.  What a monumental act of love for the community!  I am ever so grateful to Queen Taese and the community of people who made this a reality.  Where do I begin? I have been attending homeschool conferences for many years.  It has been my dream to attend a homeschool conference geared to the specific needs of Afrikan people.  It has been my dream to support Afrikan-Centered curriculum developed specifically for homeschoolers.  I had that opportunity a few weeks ago.  A few brave mamas packed up our cars and made that long and unforgiving drive to Atlanta, Georgia, to support the Liberated Minds Black Homeschool and Education Expo.  And, oh how filling it was!

Telling "Our" Story

A few weeks ago the book Show Your Work caught my eye in the library.  Poolside, I read the chapter on Telling Good Stories, and this sentence jumped out at me:  "When shown an object, or given a food, or shown a face, people's assessment of it--how much they like it, how valuable it is--is deeply affected by what you tell them about it."  The chapter went on to illustrate the story of an experiment where insignificant objects purchased from a thrift store for $1.25 went on to be sold for $3,612.51, based upon the stories that were told about those objects.  I relate this story to the Liberated Minds Expo not from a business perspective, but from a cultural perspective.  Often we come across resources that looks good, but we don't truly understand the value until we know the story - Ourstory.  I was so inspired by the people I met, and each had a unique story.  Most were not academicians who were now writing curriculum, instead many were "called" to the work of developing Afrikan-Centered curriculum.  Below I will highlight some of the amazing people I had an opportunity to meet and whose work I will use to teach, inspire and cultivate my children.  For this I am so grateful!

Highlights From the Afrikan Marketplace

Chike Akua Power Pack

Chike Akua, a former Georgia public school teacher and Teacher of the Year for Newport News Public Schools, is deeply committed to writing and publishing culturally relevant instructional materials for Afrikan people.  I especially enjoyed his lecture on what it means to be Afrikan-centered and what it looks like when you are "off-center."  This collection of Chike Akua's books shown above come in what's called a Power Pack. Indeed it is!  What I like about the Power Pack is that you can open the box without much knowledge about teaching from an Afrikan-Centered perspective and begin the work.  There is sufficient information to educate yourself and your children to get on the path right away.  I love any kind of program that includes videos (because I'm such a visual learner).

Sexual Abstinence from A Cultural Perspective

Sexceptional is also included in the Power Pack.  We know that education is not just about curriculum.  According to the book, Holistic Parenting from A Pan-Afrikan Perspective, by Iya Raet, "Education should not just be a piece of paper that makes a graduate proud to hold." A good education involves improving every aspect of your life to make you whole. Sexual abstinence and mate selection for marriage, family and nation building is a central part of our homeschool.

Bandele Publications

Images are extremely important.  Bandele Publication posters, founded by Gabriel Bandele, can be used to adorn the walls or even be the basis for a unit study.  I met Gabriel Bandele and heard his powerful story during his workshop on Accelerated College Degrees for Unschoolers or non-traditional homeschoolers.  He will be coming out with a book soon, so stay tuned. 

KingMan had the opportunity to work Baba Bandele's table when he was short staffed during workshop sessions.  KingMan proudly made a few sales and learned a lot during the process.

In exchange for his work, KingMan was able to choose two posters.  He chose one on Afrikan symbols and the other on stamps featuring famous African-Americans.

 I had been searching for this poster, which features images of Afrikan money with Afrikan faces.  I can only image the lessons that will we extrapolate from this poster:  Geography, Economics, Exchange Rates and more!

I am sure LionHeart will have so many questions about the little boy featured on the Ethiopian money.  We live in a city with a large population of Ethiopians so it will have special relevance for him.

Let's Grow

When Uriah Israel read an article in the paper about a concerned mother who had petitioned the state to include the accomplishments of African Americans in Georgia's history textbooks, but was denied, he decided to take action.  He launched  Hidden History Publishers and created bookmarks, post cards and calendars to showcase and celebrate the genius of Afrikan people.  Baba Israel is
the son of a post-depression sharecropper who was born in Chattanooga, TN.  He grew up watching his father take control of his food sources by growing all kinds of fruits and vegetables, which were canned after harvest. Naturally, this experience influenced the curriculum he debuted at Liberated Minds. The Let’s Grow Curriculum is a beautiful seed and recipe activity book focused on the Afrikan contribution to agriculture.  I have never seen this topic approached in this way.  Let’s Grow, includes hands-on activities, seed germination projects, recipes and little known agricultural and industrial accomplishments about  our history.  LionHeart and I are going to have so much fun!

I could not resist the George Washington Carver doll that comes in a Tuskegee Institute box.  How could you study agriculture and not include Dr. Carver.  We'll no doubt make use of this doll when we focus on the lesson about Dr. Carver's "Movable School."

I was so proud to see so many Afrikan people developing curriculum that I asked my son to take a photograph with Baba Israel.  

Kamali Academy

Dr. Samori Camara is such a blessing to the homeschooling community.  Because of his online presence at Kamali Academy it doesn't matter if you are in the far corners of the earth, you can receive his message about "Education for Liberation."  Once you sign up, he will take your hand and guide you every step of the way, providing curriculum, teacher training, proverbs and more! We will be using his Afrikan Centered Grammar Workbook for Middle Grades for review this fall. What an honor for KingMan to see Afrikan men, who are traditionally underrepresented in education, giving their lives for the education of our people and developing curriculum.  How empowering!

The Historic Journey

 Because my husband was an entrepreneur, I am so inspired by people who have a dream, a vision and then make it a reality.  That is exactly what Garry Holland, founder of The Historic Journey, did with a simple request. Dr. Tom Benjamin, Jr,. a pastor in Indianapolis wanted a video presentation to capture the moment in time when the United States of America elected its first African American president. That request grew into a curriculum that is now being used in Indianapolis Public Schools.  I have my fingers crossed that this curriculum will be adapted and a price point created for individual homeschool families. 

Martial Arts and Street Smarts

As a mother raising young men in the city, this information was crucial.  NMAFI is an Afrikan-based martial arts system created by Grandmaster Baba Taji Nanji, which blends the most functional and practical striking, kicking, grappling, and weapons techniques for personal protection and street self-defense.  I had my boys sit up front so as not to miss a thing.  I also purchased the video NMAFI Street Smart Personal Projection for our family to master at home.  Baba Taji Nanji also features many safety video techniques on his website.  The most important takeaway for me was to create family passwords so that my children know when we are safe and when we are in danger.

African Math

Baba Kenyatta and his wife, Mama Penda, have developed one of the most beautiful math programs I have ever seen.  African Math seeks to reconnect our children with the way our ancestors performed mathematical computations.  The program is the highest of high culture and is based upon the binary system.  Computations are performed on the Afrikan Abacus or Dahuti, which we mistakenly believe is the board game Mancala.  Baba Kenyatta says that African Math will teach the child to learn to love math through positive imagery.  The program will validate the child and make learning almost like a game.  In order to embrace the African Math approach, you have to move out of the western approach to mathematics and back to the ancient ways.  The absorbent mind of the Afrikan child has no problem doing this as I witnessed my children grasp the concept quickly.  We are making African Math a part of our homeschool life journey.

Highlights from the Workshops

Nkrumah Tree of Knowledge and Unity

This was definitely a time when I wanted to be in two, sometimes three places at once.  I had to support our beloved African History teacher, Obi Egbuna, Jr., from our homeschool community who traveled to the conference to present the Nkrumah Treeof Knowledge and Unity.  The presentation was outstanding, and it was a blessing to my spirit to see the children so engaged and captivated as they learned about our history.  The Nkrumah Tree shows the links between the relationships that Kwame Nkrumah had with key figures in our history.  The Tree was first revealed during the play In Remembrance of Kwame Nkrumah and Thomas Sankara, peformed by the MassEmphasis Children’s History and Theatre Company, co-founded by Obi Egbuna, Jr.

Akoben Institute

Thanks to the my sister friend and I tag-teaming with a recorder, I was able to hear the sessions I missed.  I'm sad to say I only had the honor of listening to the esteemed Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti after returning home.  But it was still powerful!  He is the co-founder and co-director of Akoben Institute, an independent Afrikan centered full-time and after-school home schooling and tutorial program for middle and high schoolers.  One of the beautiful things about the Liberated Minds Expo is that our work was highlighted.  There are Afrikan-centered homeschooling programs all over the country.  We are not alone! Ashe!  In addition to operating a homeschool program, Baba Baruti and his wife also own Akoben House, an Afrikan centered publishing company dedicated to the dissemination of consciousness raising writings.

Aya Educational Institute

Behold! There is an outstanding Afrikan-centered alternative to mainstream online education for middle and high school homeschoolers.  If you have not visited the Aya Educational Institute website, do so now!  Imagine my shame when a fellow homeschool mom said to me, "I send out information about Aya Education all the time."  This is another reason the Liberated Minds Expo is so necessary.  For parents like me, when we get the opportunity to see up close and personal organizations like Aya who have been in the forefront of excellence in education since 1998 and have been successfully serving our community--well, the impact is huge.  Our middle and high school students can choose courses ranging from Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus to African Diaspora Literature, Journey to Haiti and Speed Reading.  Students communicate with instructors and other students through a live, web-conference platform where they can see each other real-time and interact real time.  Most importantly, the classes are taught from an Afrikan-centered perspective and designed with the Afrikan child in mind.  I must have had my head in the sand to not have taken advantage of this sooner! Aya says it teaches to "the intellect, the humanity and the spirit." The esteemed elder and ancestor Dr. Asa Hilliard has also guided the teachings at Aya in that their approach is about "academic, cultural and social mastery based on an Afrikan identity." Further, Aya's pedagogy is about "high culture, high nurturing, high expectations, high academics and high application."  Ashe!  Take some time to listen to the wonderful videos on the Aya website that explain their approach in greater detail.

I am full, so very full. Until next year ...


  1. HI! This is *SO exciting especially since one of my cousins has decided to homeschool her children. YEAH!!! She's in the MD area so hopefully we'll get together soon!

    1. Twinkle I look forward to connecting soon!