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“To Build Our Nation . . . Teach Our Children!”: Women's Gender Roles in Independent and Supplementary Black Educational Programs

Fri, Sep 29, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Floor: 4th Floor, Caprice 3--AV Room


Giving specific attention to women’s leadership, this presentation will highlight the Independent and Supplementary Black Institutions (IBIs) of four Kawaida-influenced cultural-nationalist organizations of the 1960s through the 1990s: Us, Committee for a Unified Newark and the Congress of African People, The East, and Ahidiana. Kawaida-influenced organizations originally rested on a philosophy constraining women’s gender roles to home, education, and supporting males’ agendas. Educational institutions, thus, served as vital sites of women’s political theorizing and work within such a context. Pan-African cultural-nationalist women leveraged their access to education, training, and leadership opportunities to transcend their designated gender roles. The women also employed key Kawaida-influenced values to organize, develop, and lead educational programs.

Through Pan-African-nationalist IBIs, female teachers and administrators sought to address African Americans’ educational challenges by providing a quality, culturally grounded, and politicized education in their local communities. IBIs were some of the longest-running programs of Pan-African cultural-nationalist institutions. Often organized in the most difficult situations, the institutions were seen as practical methods of addressing the educational problems African Americans faced. Scholars such as Komozi Woodard, Kwasi Konadu, Ashley Farmer, and Russell Rickford have addressed women’s important roles in Pan-African cultural-nationalist schooling. The authors, however, have not codified the nature of the women’s leadership. This presentation will define how women employed "kazi" (vigorous sustained work) in these Pan-African cultural-nationalist resistance spaces and in the midst of the crisis in black education.