Guest Writer, Kenneth D. Hale,
Vice President of the African American Archives Auxiliary and the Association of African American Cultural Gardens
Reflecting upon my childhood, growing up in Cleveland, Ohio’s Glenville and Lee-Harvard communities and being a proud graduate of the Cleveland Public Schools, I am particularly grateful, now, as an adult, to be serving as a board member of two important cultural entities within the city of Cleveland, Ohio, the African American Archives Auxiliary (AAAA, or Quad A) of the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) and the Association of African American Cultural Gardens (AAACG).
The mission of Quad A is to support WRHS’s African American Archives’ purpose, which is to collect, preserve, and make accessible historic documents, photographs, memorabilia, art, and artifacts pertaining to African American life, history, and culture in Northeast Ohio.
The mission of the Association of African American Cultural Gardens is to promote and encourage education and interest in African American history and culture, to develop and preserve the African American Cultural Garden, and to perpetuate a spirit of friendship, unity, and peace among people of all diverse cultures.
Both organizations, Quad A and AAACG, were established in large part, by a visionary educator, scholar and leader, Dr. Booker T. Tall (1928-1994).
AAACG, in response to the public gathering restrictions, in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, recently launched a six-week, pilot virtual series called the Sankofa Education Webcast Program. Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates to “Go back and get it”, and also refers to the Bono Adinkra symbol represented either with a stylized heart share or by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. AAACG’s interpretation of the Sankofa bird, which is also AAACG’s logo, is to “move forward, while being rooted and guided by our history”, which essentially describes the content and essence of AAACG’s Sankofa webcast series.
An innovative education and outreach program, AAACG’s Sankofa webcast program features videotaped, on-demand programming consisting of insightful interviews with leaders within the education, religious, scientific, philanthropic, political and media professions. The Sankofa program also features interviews of change agents and community leaders, and artistic presentations by local and national artists, as well.
AAACG’s Sankofa webcast program’s unique interview focus enables guests to share their personal stories and reflections of their childhood, family, and education and professional paths. Each guest also offers their perspectives on the importance of African American history and shares why cultural institutions, like the African American Cultural Garden are important and should be supported.
By watching AAACG’s Sankofa webcast programs, a viewer can hear “first-hand” from a former NBA player (Mr. M. Campy Russell of the Cleveland Cavaliers); how he grew up as a child in a big family, and about the values and people that shaped him. Viewers of the Sankofa series can learn about the early days of a nationally acclaimed physician, Dr. Charles Modlin, of the Cleveland Clinic, and learn about who and what influenced him to become a doctor. Episodes of the Sankofa also presents artistic presentations, profiles of notable African Americans, information about the African American Cultural Garden and more.
The format and content of the Sankofa program is very family-friendly and viewers are invited to view and enjoy the programming alone, and/or with multiple generations within a family to enjoy as a family unit. Anyone interested in viewing upcoming or past Sankofa webcast programs, or interested in viewing the entire line-up of featured guests, is invited to access the webcast series through the Association of African American Cultural Gardens website at www.aaacg.org.