The Honorable Balanta People, Fought Against Slavery

Not all Africans participated in slave trades. In fact, the Balanta of West Africa were known for fighting those who attempted to subjugate them and others. Tracing their beginnings from the Nile Valley, the Balanta are estimated to have migrated to areas of modern-day Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau, circa 1200 CE. Deeply rooted egalitarian values, sustained by enduring social and governance structures, were apparently at the core of their relentless fight against subordination. Consequently, the kidnapping and murderous brutality that sustained the Atlantic and other slave trades was not tolerated in Balanta territory.  

The legacy of Balantas being ethical defenders of freedom persisted well into the 21st century. Amicar Cabral, leader of the 1960’s Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde fight against Portuguese colonial rule, acknowledged Balanta farmers for being among the first to join the revolutionary gorilla war because of “their decentralized and egalitarian social organization.” 

Click below to learn more about the honorable Balanta, Africans steeped in cultural values that prohibited selling fellow Africans into slavery. Gain access to a fuller history of how Africans protected each other from the destructive schemes of invaders.

Bonus: Click here to access The Balanta B’urassa History and Genealogy Society in America that helps connect Balanta descendants in the U. S. and elsewhere, to their history and community.

2021 November Newsletter, History and Culture

Gaspar Yanga, Mexico's African Freedom Fighter & Founder of Historic City

Torn from his West African homeland by 16th century Spanish enslavers, Gaspar Yanga was taken to the area now known as Mexico. Although he was thrusted into a remarkably cruel system of oppression, Yanga—reportedly a direct descendant of African royalty–refused to accept subjugation. In 1570 he led a successful rebellion and established a self-emancipated city on Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico. Over time, the maroon settlement  attracted some five hundred African and indigenous people who became known as “Yanguicos.” 

Yanguicos lived freely for almost 30 years by routinely out-smarting and out-fighting those who sought to re-enslave them. Over time, the Yanguicos became so strong and self-sufficient that Spanish authorities feared they would soon try to take over neighboring areas that Spain controlled. In response to the threat of Yanguicos expansion, Spanish authorities eventually agreed to a 1618 treaty that afforded the Yanguicos a more peaceful existence.

Click below to learn more about Yanga, the African freedom-fighter who founded a Mexican city and proud community of Afro-Mexicans more than 400 years ago. Become familiar with the “Festival of Negritude,” a public celebration held since 1976 to honor Afro-Mexican heritage.

2021 November Newsletter, History and Culture

Black Fathers Launch Successful "Dads on Duty" School Safety Program

After more that two dozen Southwood High School students in Shreveport, Louisiana were arrested, suspended, or expelled within 3 days, a group of concerned fathers met. They were unwilling to allow school violence and disruptions to continue. Days later, they emerged as organizers and participants of “Dads on Duty,” a safe campus intervention program. Their strategy places fathers in schools, walking hallways, and talking with students to help prevent disturbances. Their presence on campus has made a huge difference. 

Most of the “Dads on Duty” were Black. Recently appearing on CBS News, their story received wide coverage–exposing Brothers who DO protect and provide for their children and community. For more details about how and when Black men show up and make a difference, click below.

2021 November Newsletter,  Present Day Achievements ,Youth & Community

Ghanaian-British Entrepreneur Develops Wireless Earbuds That Translate More Than 30 Languages

A love for innovation inspired Danny Manu to launch his tech company, MyManu, in 2014. After just a few years of product development experience, Manu took the world by storm with the creation of CLIK S wireless earbuds. In addition to delivering a high quality listening experience, the buds can translate more than 30 languages in real-time. 

Manu’s journey to innovating and then marketing the unique earbuds was not easy. Unable to secure a business loan, he turned, well—to himself, and relied on his own strategic thinking to figure out how to finance his vision. Supported by crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Manu raised over $500,000.

To learn more about the self-sufficient Ghanaian-British innovator, poised to transform the world of language translation, click below. 

Keishia Thorpe Becomes First Black Woman To Win $1 Million Global Educator Award

Recently, an old  truth was publicly recognized; Black women are great teachers. Chosen from 8,000 global applicants, Keishia Thorpe became the 2021 winner of the prestigious Global Teacher Award. The Howard University graduate is the first Black women to win the annual award, that includes $1 million dollars, for being an exceptional educator making extraordinary contributions to their profession.

A talented and devoted educator, Thorpe distinguished herself as a visionary with unparalleled dedication. The 12th grade English teacher was highly celebrated for going above and beyond after restructuring her class curriculum to make it more culturally responsive. 

Click below to learn more about Keishia Thorpe, the extraordinary Maryland educator attending to the cultural needs of her students, and thereby representing Black teacher excellence.

2021 November Newsletter, Present Day Achievements

Kerine Davis Persevered, Overcame Years of Challenges to Become College Owner

Even though Kerine Davis was a teenage mother who dropped out of high school, and thereafter faced poverty most of her adult life, she persevered to achieve highly. She now owns and operates Ocho Rios College, a Jamaican educational institution that prepares adults to enter hospitality, health, and business industries. The college first opened in 2012 with 40 students, and in 2019 boasted a student population of 150, served by 13 faculty and staff.

Davis’ journey to become more than her circumstances seemed to predict, is instructive. How, over many years, she advance from low-paying, physically demanding, and time consuming jobs that included driving a taxi, before eventually obtaining a degree in Educational Leadership and Management at the University of the West Indies, may hold valuable lessons that could benefit others in similar circumstances.

Tough times come with opportunities to grow. Click below to learn more about the Black woman who turned stumbling blocks into building blocks. Be inspired by her relentless pursuit to be more and better. 

2021 November Newsletter,  Present Day Achievement , Business & Finance,

Erin Jackson Champions Speed Skating, Wins World Cup

Unprecedented history was recently made at the World Cup speed skating competition when Erin Jackson became the first African American woman to win. She completed the 500 meter race in 37.613 seconds. As if her extraordinary winning time was not enough, the 29-year-old Floridian raced again the next day and broke her own record. Amazing! What a wonderful demonstration of how Black people, proven to be the best, become even better. 

Click below to learn about Erin Jackson and her incredible journey to becoming a world champion. Take note of how Black achievement has no limit. None.

2021 November Newsletter,  Present Day Achievements , Youth & Community