The Final Stop on AAI’s “The Road to Ghana” Salon Dinner Series: Detroit, Michigan

The final stop on The Road to Ghana Salon Dinner Series, an intimate gathering bringing together cross-sector leaders interested in collaborating to address disparities impacting Africa and its worldwide Diaspora, was in Detroit, MI. As with the others, the theme of the series is “Connecting the Diaspora” and it reflects AAI’s mission of serving as a bridge between Africa and the United States to promote enlightened engagement on issues of common concern to Africa and its worldwide Diaspora. Funded by a MacArthur Foundation grant as part of their Equitable Recovery Initiative, the salon dinners are being held across the United States and will culminate in a trip to Accra, Ghana, where The Global Circle for
Reparations & Healing will host the “Advancing Justice: Reparations and Racial Healing Summit” in August of 2022.

The Detroit dinner took place on June 22 nd and began with a Cocktail Reception on the terrace of the Detroit Athletic Club, where guests were serenaded by Cellist, Christian Sands who is a native Detroiter, and performer with the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. After the Reception, guests were welcomed back indoors to a beautifully decorated space where an African-inspired dinner was served.

AAI Advisors Denise J. Lewis and Ghebre Mehreteab, extended a warm welcome to the guests and kicked off an engaging discussion about the power of education and the impact of AAI’s School Services K-12 Program on its partner school districts in southeast Michigan.

AAI’s School Services Program works with K-12 communities to ensure that students have the educationally enriching and transformative experience of learning about Africa and its global Diaspora. The program provides a comprehensive array of supports that enable districts and schools to successfully: 1) design curricular content on Africa and African diaspora that is scholarly and free of bias and misinformation; and 2) deliver classroom instruction that supports student learning, self-leadership, and academic achievement and excellence.

AAI initially launched the Schools Services Program in the late 1960s, as Africa was decolonizing and students across the United States were demanding more courses on Black history and Black experiences. Together with AAI’s separate- but-related Educators to Africa travel program for teachers, School Services served as a resource for school districts, teachers, principals, and professional associations involved in designing K-12 curricula. At its November 2020 conference on “Teaching Africa” A 21st Century, Anti-Racist Agenda That Promotes Equity and Achievement In K-12 Education” AAI re-launched Schools Services by adding a greater emphasis on skilled pedagogy, and student academic achievement, to its principal goals.

Guests were passionate about the topic and shared valuable ideas on potential ways to scale and expand the program across southeast Michigan and beyond. As customary with the previous Dinners, guests were also given copies of “Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora” as parting gifts.

Attendees of the Detroit Dinner included Mayor Tim Greimel, of the City of Pontiac, Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison, of the City of Detroit, Wendy Jackson, Director, Kresge Foundation, Detroit Program, Kofi Bonner, CEO of Bedrock, and Ruth Nicole Brown, Professor and Inaugural Chairperson, Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. AAI looks forward to staying engaged with the Detroit attendees and building on the conversation and ideas initiated at the Dinner.

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