AAI’s 6th Annual State of Education on Africa Conference

Teaching Africa in K-12 Education

Thank you for joining us for the 6th Annual State of Education on Africa Conference (SOE) that took place on Friday, November 13th, 2020 1pm-5:15pm EST. The SOE is a space for learning and dialogue that informs collective action in line with our founders’ commitment to liberatory teaching and learning. 

This year, SOE 2020 gathered virtually, and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement, to explore the theme “Teaching Africa”: A 21st Century, Anti-racist Agenda that Promotes Equity and Achievement in K-12 Education.”

Guided by a diverse group of knowledgeable and caring scholars and practitioners, conference participants explored the urgency, challenges, and transformative potential of “teaching Africa”—as a culturally responsive pedagogical approach to nurturing the high academic achievement and holistic wellbeing of K-12 students.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing resources on teaching about Africa in K-12 education as well as the conference report. You can watch the full conference at the link below:

SOE 2020 Conference Agenda

1:00PM – 1:10PM
Welcome & Program Introduction
An overview of the conference goals in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Kofi Appenteng
President, Africa-America Institute (AAI)

Kofi Appenteng is the President of the Africa-America Institute (AAI), which was founded in 1953 with a mission of promoting enlightened engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue. With more than 23,000 African alumni from more than 50 African countries, AAI has tremendous reach and is a trusted brand. Appenteng has 30 years of domestic and international experience as a corporate lawyer, investment banker and board director. He serves as Chair for Africa at Delphos International and is a senior advisor to The Rock Creek Group.

Throughout his career, Appenteng has been active with numerous civil society organizations. He is currently a member of the board at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and previously served as board chair of the Ford Foundation. Additionally, Appenteng serves on the board of the International Center for Transitional Justice and on the International Advisory Board of IE University. In recognition of his work in business and philanthropy, he was named a “Great American Immigrant” by the Carnegie Corporation in 2013. Born in Ghana, West Africa, Appenteng began his education in England where he completed his primary and secondary education and then came to the United States to attend college at Wesleyan University. At Wesleyan, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree; was awarded the Butterfield Prize for character, leadership and intellectual commitment; and captained the soccer and athletic teams while earning recognition as a member of the All American soccer team. He earned a Juris Doctor from Columbia University where he was an international fellow. Appenteng then began his career as a corporate lawyer and, in 1994, became the first Black African to become a partner at a major New York City law firm.

Patrick Gaspard
President, Open Society Foundations

Patrick Gaspard is president of the Open Society Foundations. Previously Gaspard served as the U.S. ambassador to South Africa from 2013 to 2016. Gaspard has had a dynamic career at the intersection of government, political campaigns, and social justice movements, serving as a senior aide to President Barack Obama, the executive director of the Democratic National Committee, and an assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Political Affairs. Beginning his career as a union organizer in New York City, Gaspard was the executive vice president and political director for the Service Employees International Union, Local 1199, and political director for the national SEIU.

Tonya Allen
President & CEO, Skillman Foundation

Tonya Allen is the president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. Her two-decade-long career has centered on pursuing, executing and investing in ideas that improve her hometown of Detroit and increase opportunities for its people, particularly its children, who live in under-resourced communities.

Allen has been instrumental in many successful philanthropic, government and community initiatives, including: the 10-year, $120-million Good Neighborhoods Initiative, which increased graduation rates by 25 percent, youth programming by 40 percent, and reduced child victimization by 47 percent; the creation and expansion of Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, which increased summer jobs for youth from 2,500 to 8,200 paid positions; co-chairing the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, which successfully advocated for $667 million for the Detroit Public Schools Community District, return of an elected school board, and more charter accountability; and serving the boys and men of color field as chair for Campaign for Black Male Achievement and co-chair for My Brother’s Keeper Detroit and Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

Allen holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s degrees in social work and public health, all from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She serves on numerous boards, both local and national, including the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (Board Chair), the Community Education Commission, (Board Vice-Chair), the Council on Foundations (Board Vice-Chair), the Detroit Children’s Fund, the Detroit Parent Network, the Executives’ Alliance for Boys & Men of Color (Board Co-Chair), the Mayor’s Workforce Development Board, the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, Michigan Future, Inc. (Board Chair), Oakland University (Board Chair), the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, and the University of Michigan Alumni Association.

Before joining The Skillman Foundation in 2004, Allen worked as a program officer for both the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Thompson-McCully Foundation. She founded Detroit Parent Network and led the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Rebuilding Communities Initiative in Detroit.

She’s married to husband, Louis, and has three daughters, Phylicia, Brianna and Alanna.

Mora Mclean
President emerita, Program Advisor, AAI

Mora McLean is president emerita of the Africa-America Institute (AAI). She led a multi-year process and secured roughly $100 million in grants, which enabled AAI to wean itself from U.S. government contracts, recover its independent mission, and sharpen its program focus. With the help of an NEH grant she found a home for AAI’s archival collection at UMass Amherst.

McLean is editor of West African Youth Challenges and Opportunity Pathways (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), a collection that examines obstacles that impede, and potential pathways to improve, the material and psychological well-being of youth in and from West Africa.

At the Ford Foundation (1985-1995) she was responsible for social justice grant making across the U.S. and, thereafter, oversaw the foundation’s social justice grant making in West Africa from its regional headquarters in Nigeria. In an earlier career as legislative aide and legal counselor she championed workers rights and a clean environment. As AAI’s president (1996-2012) she advocated enlightened U.S. policies toward Africa and served on the U.S. Trade Representative Trade Advisory Committee on Africa, including three years as chair.

McLean has served on the boards of trustees for the United States Institute of Peace and the United States International University (USIU) in Kenya, and is Trustee Emerita of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

As adjunct professor at NYU and Rutgers University-Newark she created and taught Africa and the Development Paradigm, a multidisciplinary course anchored in history. Her research explores how American cultural and ideological understandings of “progress” and “development” were projected onto African countries after World War II. She is currently working to recover the history of how African-Americans, including AAI co-founders Horace Mann Bond and William Leo Hansberry, endeavored to advance pan-Africanist visions of progress in the 1960s.

1:10PM – 1:20PM
Students’ Voices
Young people share their views on Africa-centered teaching and learning.
1:25PM – 2:15PM
Why Teach Africa, and What We Need to Know
How Africa is central to the creation of United States—and modern world.
Michael A. Gomez, PhD
Silver Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, founding director of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), and author of (inter alia) Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora (New Approaches to African History)

Michael A. Gomez is currently Silver Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, and the director of NYU’s newly-established Center for the Study of Africa and the African Diaspora (CSAAD), having served as founding director of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) from its inception in 2000 to 2007. He is also series editor of the Cambridge Studies on the African Diaspora, Cambridge University Press. He has chaired the History departments at both NYU and Spelman College, and also served as President of UNESCO’s International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project from 2009 to 2011. His first book, Pragmatism in the Age of Jihad: The Precolonial State of Bundu (Cambridge University Press, 1992), examines a Muslim polity in what is now eastern Senegal. The next publication, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (University of North Carolina Press, 1998), is concerned with questions of culture and race. The edited volume, Diasporic Africa: A Reader (New York University Press, 2006), explores the idea of an African diaspora, as does Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora (Cambridge University Press, 2005; second edition). The monograph Black Crescent: African Muslims in the Americas (Cambridge University Press, 2005) examines how African Muslims negotiated their bondage and freedom throughout the Americas, integrating analysis of Islamic Africa. Gomez’s most recent book, African Dominion: A New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa (Princeton University Press, 2018)—a study of polity and religion during the region’s iconic moment—was awarded the 2019 African Studies Association’s Book Prize (formerly the Herskovits Book Award), and the 2019 American Historical Association’s Martin A. Klein Prize in African History. Gomez supports the struggles of African people worldwide.

Mora Mclean
President emerita, Program Advisor, AAI

Mora McLean is president emerita of the Africa-America Institute (AAI). She led a multi-year process and secured roughly $100 million in grants, which enabled AAI to wean itself from U.S. government contracts, recover its independent mission, and sharpen its program focus. With the help of an NEH grant she found a home for AAI’s archival collection at UMass Amherst.

McLean is editor of West African Youth Challenges and Opportunity Pathways (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), a collection that examines obstacles that impede, and potential pathways to improve, the material and psychological well-being of youth in and from West Africa.

At the Ford Foundation (1985-1995) she was responsible for social justice grant making across the U.S. and, thereafter, oversaw the foundation’s social justice grant making in West Africa from its regional headquarters in Nigeria. In an earlier career as legislative aide and legal counselor she championed workers rights and a clean environment. As AAI’s president (1996-2012) she advocated enlightened U.S. policies toward Africa and served on the U.S. Trade Representative Trade Advisory Committee on Africa, including three years as chair.

McLean has served on the boards of trustees for the United States Institute of Peace and the United States International University (USIU) in Kenya, and is Trustee Emerita of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

As adjunct professor at NYU and Rutgers University-Newark she created and taught Africa and the Development Paradigm, a multidisciplinary course anchored in history. Her research explores how American cultural and ideological understandings of “progress” and “development” were projected onto African countries after World War II. She is currently working to recover the history of how African-Americans, including AAI co-founders Horace Mann Bond and William Leo Hansberry, endeavored to advance pan-Africanist visions of progress in the 1960s.

2:15PM – 3:05PM
Race, Culture, Identity & Student Achievement
Looking back to push forward: A theory of Practice for African American Students.
Dr. Theresa Perry
Professor Emerita of Africana Studies and Education, Simmons University, and co-author of (inter alia) Young, Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African-American Students

Theresa Perry is Professor Emerita, Africana Studies and Education at Simmons University (formerly Simmons College), and former Director of the Simmons College/Beacon Press, Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series. Her research interests and writings focus on developing a theory of practice for African American achievement and creating educational environments that normalize high achievement for Black students. She has served as an expert witness in a Pennsylvania class action alleging improper classification of Black children as special education students, and consulted with urban and suburban school districts on policies and practices that support African American student achievement.

She is co-author, with the late Asa Hilliard III and Claude Steele of Young Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African American Students, co-editor with Lisa Delpit of The Real Ebonics Debate: Power Language and the Education of African American Students, editor of Teaching Malcolm X, co-editor of Freedom’s Plow: Teaching in the Multicultural Classroom, and co-editor with Bob Moses et al. of Quality Education as a Constitutional Right: Organizing to Create a Grassroots Movement. Before joining the Simmons faculty, Dr. Perry was Undergraduate Dean, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Community Relations at Wheelock College. During her tenure, Wheelock was recognized by NCREST for its exemplary teacher preparation program. She led the faculty in integrating content on race, gender, social class, and ethnicity throughout the curriculum, increased the representation of faculty of color to 25%, and developed robust partnerships with Boston Public Schools.

Mora Mclean
President emerita, Program Advisor, AAI

Mora McLean is president emerita of the Africa-America Institute (AAI). She led a multi-year process and secured roughly $100 million in grants, which enabled AAI to wean itself from U.S. government contracts, recover its independent mission, and sharpen its program focus. With the help of an NEH grant she found a home for AAI’s archival collection at UMass Amherst.

McLean is editor of West African Youth Challenges and Opportunity Pathways (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), a collection that examines obstacles that impede, and potential pathways to improve, the material and psychological well-being of youth in and from West Africa.

At the Ford Foundation (1985-1995) she was responsible for social justice grant making across the U.S. and, thereafter, oversaw the foundation’s social justice grant making in West Africa from its regional headquarters in Nigeria. In an earlier career as legislative aide and legal counselor she championed workers rights and a clean environment. As AAI’s president (1996-2012) she advocated enlightened U.S. policies toward Africa and served on the U.S. Trade Representative Trade Advisory Committee on Africa, including three years as chair.

McLean has served on the boards of trustees for the United States Institute of Peace and the United States International University (USIU) in Kenya, and is Trustee Emerita of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

As adjunct professor at NYU and Rutgers University-Newark she created and taught Africa and the Development Paradigm, a multidisciplinary course anchored in history. Her research explores how American cultural and ideological understandings of “progress” and “development” were projected onto African countries after World War II. She is currently working to recover the history of how African-Americans, including AAI co-founders Horace Mann Bond and William Leo Hansberry, endeavored to advance pan-Africanist visions of progress in the 1960s.

3:05PM – 3:20PM
Break
An opportunity to connect and reflect on the first half of the program
3:20PM – 3:30PM
UNESCO’s General History of Africa Pedagogy Initiative
A project to integrate African history into African schools’ curricula.
3:30PM – 3:40PM
Students’ Voices
Young people share their views on Africa-centered teaching and learning.
3:40PM – 5:00PM
Resources for Integrating Africa Across K-12 Curricula
Resources and strategies to overcome obstacles to teaching Africa for K-12.
Brenda Randolph
President of Africa Access and Outreach Director at the Title VI Center for African Studies, Howard University

Brenda Randolph is the president of Africa Access and Outreach Director at the Title VI Center for African Studies, Howard University. She is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, holds a Master’s degree in African Studies from Howard University, and a Master’s in Library and Information Services from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has worked as a school librarian in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maryland. In the late 1960s, she co-founded the Southern Africa Relief Fund to assist the victims of apartheid and Portuguese colonialism. In 1989 she founded Africa Access to combat stereotypes about Africa and help schools, public libraries, and parents improve the quality of their K-12 collections on Africa. In 1991, Africa Access, in collaboration with the African Studies Association, founded the Children’s Africana Book Award that honors the authors and illustrators of outstanding K-12 books on Africa. In 2015 Africa Access launched the Discover Africa in the Americas website. Most recently in 2020, Africa Access created The Gold Road: Medieval Ghana, Mali, and Songhai in collaboration with the Center for African Studies at Howard University and the African Studies Center at Boston University.

Joe Truss
Principal of Visitation Mission School in San Francisco and founder, Culturally Responsive Leadership

I am a proud 6th-year middle school principal, a father of a 3-year-old daughter and newborn, and a husband to a High School Teacher. My passion is school transformation using a lens of racial equity. In my hard to find spare time, I like to dabble in hip-hop, basketball, and travel the world. I also love to ​write​.

I want to help you be a radical leader; an engineer for equity. I believe that leaders (second only to incredible teachers) are the key factor in changing the outcomes for students. I am passionate about leadership and social justice. I want to support you to build a bridge between your commitment to equity and your mission of empowering all students.

I want to connect like-minded individuals to harness our collective strength, learn faster together, and empower our schools. This will connect critical pedagogy, change management, and design thinking. I hope that leadership can be your tool for transforming schools, for the benefit of our children.

I am in my sixth year as Principal of a middle school in San Francisco. I bring sixteen years of experience working with public K-12 students, combining teaching, coaching, counseling, curriculum development, and school administration. I have extensive experience working in Title 1 schools serving low-income, immigrant, students of color.

Originally, born and raised in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, I grew up in a single-parent home, after losing my father at the age of five. I attended public schools in San Francisco and found solace in my studies. I later studied the Spanish Language at UC Berkeley in the early 2000s.

I continued my education through the ​Urban Teacher Training Collaborative​ and received my Master’s in Teaching from Tufts University, in Boston. I then returned to teach High School Spanish in Oakland. After becoming a lead teacher, with ​Envision Schools​, I returned to pursue an Administrator’s Credential through the ​UC Berkeley PLI program​. There I conducted my Leadership Action Research Project on the effects of Culturally Relevant Curricula in a small urban high school.

I later returned to San Francisco, as a high school Assistant Principal, before becoming the Principal of a middle school. There, I introduced a vision focused on Love, Literacy, and Liberation. I have worked to decrease student referrals, increase performance on the SBAC English Language Arts and double 6th-grade enrollment. During my tenure, I worked to bring in a focus on ​culturally responsive teaching​, ​project-based learning​, and trauma-sensitive practices. I also worked to ​redesign our master/bell schedule​.

In addition to leading school transformation at my school, I was a member of the coordinating committee of an enclave of Social Justice leaders in San Francisco. I have been able to design leadership development for administrators in San Francisco. I have led various workshops, and offering professional development to over 3000 educators. These experiences provide me with keen insight into effective tools for school transformation and leadership support.

Curtis Lewis, PhD
Chief of Teaching and Learning, Detroit 90/90-University Prep Schools

Dr. Lewis is an accomplished urban educator. He taught for several years as a 5th grade teacher, middle school math teacher, and an alternative education teacher at the secondary level for the Lansing Public School District. He was also the founding principal of Henry Ford Academy: Elementary School, and the turnaround principal for Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies – a premier college prep art and design middle/high school in the heart of Detroit. Dr. Lewis is currently the Chief of Teaching and Learning for Detroit 90/90’s 10 school network. Dr. Lewis earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and Doctoral degree in Education Policy and Curriculum Teaching – all from Michigan State University.

In, 2013, Dr. Lewis was recognized in the Michigan Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 cohort of rising young leaders in Metro Detroit. Dr. Lewis has been nationally recognized for his dedication to building culturally relevant learning communities for students of color. He was selected to the third cohort of the nationally recognized America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals. His published works include a chapter in “Mentoring African American Males: A Research Design Comparison Perspective” (2014). In 2015 he met with former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, senior U.S. Department of Education officials for two days of learning and advising at the White House, as part of the Principals at ED effort.

In 2015, Dr. Lewis had a vision to galvanize all his learning, years of experience, and network of educators to marshal in a new organization with the primary goal to recruit, retain, and develop black male educators. Black Male Educators Alliance of Michigan (BMEA) was established to dismantle the institutional impediments to diversity within the educational profession, thereby improving the educational experiences of urban youth.

Dr. Olivia Lynch
Adjunct Professor of Education and AAI Advisor

Dr. Olivia Ifill Lynch was born in Panama City, Panama and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was ten years old. She is 100% bi-lingual, English/Spanish – speak, read, write. Her parents and extended family always emphasized the importance and transformative impact of learning. Dr. Lynch’s experience as an educator in New York and California, is multi-faceted, having served as teacher, principal, director, superintendent, leader of educational organizations, professor of education and educational consultant. Dr. Lynch, deeply knows and believes that education is key in promoting positive life outcomes for human beings.

Dr. Olivia Lynch received her B.A. from New York University, her M.A. from Adelphi University, her principal and district leadership certificates from City College of New York and her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from Mills College. She was also the recipient of a Revson Fellowship from Columbia University. Her research, presentations, workshops and writing, focus on school reform and innovation, educational leadership, school and educational institution governance, curriculum and teaching, English Language Learners and urban education.

Her published doctoral dissertation is, Generative Leadership: A Case Study of Distributed Leadership and Leadership Sustainability. Dr. Lynch co-authored an article for Educational Leadership with Dr. Linda Darling- Hammond, of Stanford University entitled, If They’d Only Do Their Work!, which continues to be referenced in educational writings.

5:00PM – 5:05PM
Key Education Policy Issues
View from the Education Frontlines: Opportunities and Challenges movement.
Introduction: Denise Lewis
Member, Board of Trustees, University Preparatory Schools and AAI Advisor

Denise J. Lewis is an education advocate serving as a Senior Advisor to AAI. A business and community leader from Michigan, she has had a lifetime commitment to improving educational opportunity. She has advanced this commitment through years of service as a leader on the Board of Trustees of the University Preparatory Schools in Detroit.

Her engagement in education also includes statewide election to the Board of Governors of Wayne State University and service for several years as Chair of the Wayne State Board. In addition, her civic career includes long tenure on the Boards of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Friends School of Detroit.

Lewis recently retired as a senior partner with Honigman LLP, the largest law firm in Detroit, after a 36-year career. She held leadership positions with the firm including serving on the firm’s Board of Directors for several years. She founded the firm’s Urban Redevelopment practice and led a national practice that impacted urban centers across the country. She authored articles for national publications on urban development strategies. She was honored in 2015 as one of the Most Influential Black Lawyers in the U.S.

Throughout her legal career, Lewis maintained an interest in international economic development and handled major investments in Namibia, Ghana and South Africa. Her commitment to the advancement of Africa and the Diaspora runs deep, and she was honored with an endowed lectureship in her name at her alma mater Barnard College in the Africana Studies Department.

Lewis’ other community service included Board leadership positions with the McGregor Fund, Invest Detroit, the Real Estate Executive Council, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the Wayne State University Foundation.

Lewis received her B.A. degree with honors from Columbia University and her J.D. degree with honors from the University of Michigan Law School.

Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Public Schools
5:05PM – 5:15PM
Closing/Next Steps
Vote of thanks and AAI’s immediate plans for follow up.

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact:

Chantal Uwizera, Director of Global Programs at cuwizera@aaionline.org

Thank you to the SOE 2020 Sponsors