The Africa America Institute Hosts Its 8th Annual SOE on the Climate Crisis and Africa’s Deep Past

New York, NY. – On January 20th, the Africa-America Institute hosted its 8th Annual State of Education on Africa Conference under the theme of Africa, the Global Climate Crisis, & Reparations. Held virtually, the Conference gathered K-12 education practitioners, educators, students, social justice activists, and leaders in philanthropy to discuss the interconnections between reparations and the climate crisis in Africa and the world at large.

As the Conference’s Keynote Speaker, Dorinda Carter Andrews, Chairperson and Professor for the College of Education at Michigan State University, highlighted the urgent need for children to have access to information about climate change that centers both the disproportionate negative impact on Africa and its worldwide diaspora, as well as the often-ignored work of young African climate justice activists. She emphasized that parents and educators cannot rely on schools alone, if at all, to provide a more balanced perspective on the issue.

Children’s book author Elizabeth-Irene Baitie talked about her award-winning novel Crossing the Stream, which Kirkus Review described as a “richly textured contemporary story set in Ghana [that] highlights timely issues around the environment and exploitation of the poor… an immersive reading experience”. 

In three videos the conference captured the reflections of students at Harlem Village Academy who provided their thoughtful, first-hand perspectives on climate change and reparations. 

Letha Hopkins-Powell, Principal at Walt Whitman Elementary School, and Lindsay Hellman, a history teacher at Marygove High School, talked about how AAI is supporting their work with students across Southeast Michigan.

Shayla Monroe, an anthropological archeologist who specializes in the social zooarchaeology of the Nile Valley and the Sahara, presented evidence that showed how early pastoralists in the Africa region adapted to radical climate change by embracing cooperation as a mode of survival, political philosophy, and cultural value—all of which remain relevant in the 21st Century.

Olùfémi Tàìwó, author and Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University, made the case that “climate justice and reparations are the same project.” In conversation with AAI historian Mora McLean, he explained that the global climate crisis and racial injustice both arise from the same political history and that, therefore, reparations are required to remake the world at a scale and stop the “crisis multiplier” effect of human-induced climate change.

AAI’s 8th Annual SOE Conference set the stage for people of all ages and backgrounds to simultaneously draw lessons from world history and pursue practical approaches to achieving climate justice and repair. We look forward to continuing the conversation.

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