In earlier blog posts, I have written about the Pan African Summit, whose main goal is to bring together Africans and African Americans. Early this year, the planning committee agreed to organize small gatherings, over breakfast, addressing specific topics as a way of building the groundwork and momentum for the Summit itself. Today we had our first breakfast meeting, at Vicky's Place, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Eugene Dix gave a presentation on the work of The African American Action Council, of which he is the founder and executive director. Operating mostly in the Brooklyn Park and surrounding areas, the AAAC seeks to ensure that African American and other marginalized communities have a voice on issues that concern them. It believes in working on this agenda "in a thoughtful and professional manner."
The AAAC carries out its mission through mentoring activities to youth; partnering with other local non-profits and agencies to provide quality services to families and youth; sourcing economic opportunities in the area; advocating for education, economic stability and affordable housing, as well as developing new leaders through training and organizing.
Eugene gave an enlightening account of existing disparities in these areas, and he dwelt, in particular, on the school system. He gave a passionate account of the plight of school children from the marginalized communities who have to go through a system that is not working well for them, as evidenced by data on the rate of suspensions of such students.
The AAAC has concrete suggestions for solving the problem. These include parent involvement. Parents should be aware of the situation in the schools and should take advantage of services that facilitate their involvement. Multicultural perspectives and tools should be incorporated in the training of educators. There is need for research into the issues affecting the school system, which should involve educators, community organizations, parents, and students.There should be good communication between parents, school officials and teachers, to bring about parent participation in their children's school work and other activities. With the demographic diversity of the area, the school system needs to involve people of different backgrounds as teachers, administrators, school board members, and counselors.Eugene shared out literature about the AAAC and he invites people to join the efforts of this organization. The contact information is email@example.com, 763-503-0159 (ph), 763-503-0160 (fax). While writing this blog post, I encountered this article, which sheds more light on today's conversations.
In the group photo above, taken at the end of the meeting, are, from left to right, Eugene Dix, Chioma Onwukwe, Lorraine Rhodes-Dix, Victoria Karpeh, Joseph Mbele, Gerald Montgomery, Edmund Ocansey. When we thought about the idea of small gatherings and the topics for such gatherings, we all agreed that the education of our children should be a top priority. From my perspective, at least, Eugene has met our expectations and offered us much food for thought. We look forward to other meetings. Everyone is welcome to be part of this process, laying the groundwork for the Pan African Summit and a greater understanding between Africans and African Americans. For more information, contact Edmund Ocansey: firstname.lastname@example.org.