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  • Lasha Pierce MD

Independent Black Schools in the BayArea- History and Legacy

Updated: May 15, 2018

Oakland and the surrounding Bay Area has a rich history of political activism and specifically a deep involvement in the movement for Independent Black education. At the Academy for Restorative Education, we honor those who blazed this necessary trail on the path to self determination. Our signature school, SILE will soon join the archives of independent Black institutions working toward achieving excellence and justice in education. We are delighted and humbled to be in such esteemed company!

Please forgive us if any school was overlooked and ,therefore, missing from the list.



Oakland

Oakland Oakland Community School (Black Panthers) 1973-1982,

Closed after 9 years

Clara Muhammed School (1980-2010, Closed after 30 years)

Luxor Academy (1980-2004, closed after 24 years)

Umoja House (1981-present)

Ile Omode (1986-present)

Afrikan Children’s Advanced Learning Center (1988-present)

Nika Semu Emu Community School (1993-present)

Roots of Unique Awareness (1999-2008, Closed after 9 years)

ASA Academy and Community Science Center (2000-2009, Closed after 9 years)

Beams Academy (2005-2012, Closed after 7 years)

Black House (Closed, years in operation not available)


Berkeley

Sheltons Primary Education Center (1971-2008, Closed after 37 years)


San Francisco

Meadows Livingstone School (1979-present)


East Palo Alto

Shule Mandela (1980-1999, Closed after 19 years)


Southern California

Marcus Garvey School (LA)

Mandela Children's Learning Village (Compton)

National

Council of Independent Black Institutions


With only 35% of Independent Black schools in the Bay Area listed above surviving over the past 45 years, and even worse- none listed that attempted to open locally in the last 20 years are still in operation- we are faced with the reality that a sustainable business model is needed in order for our intentions of bringing restorative education to African American students to become a reality. Market research in the Bay Area shows that the need still persists and the demand is as strong as ever. The trick is to insulate ourselves from unpredictable swings in the economy which make tuition only based business models vulnerable.


Why independent? This question comes up a lot since many think being successful means depending on those in power to share fiscal resources. We believe that dependence upon a system that has chronically failed and behaved openly hostile to our children and communities is self sabotaging, despite the dollars that can often accompany said dependence.


The Black economy is larger than the economies of half of the nations worldwide. Our

collective economy is larger than some other countries’. We possess 1.1 Trillion dollars in buying power. Even though our individual household incomes lag behind that of many in the US, our collective purchasing power is strong. The question is how do we inspire those among us who are able, to support independent education in a way that is sustainable?


In addition to tuition, independent private schools with longevity have support from: local businesses, alumni, community organizations (fraternities, sororities, other social societies), corporations (in the form of sponsorships, matching, etc.), community donations (including estate planning) and fundraising events supported by the community.


An example of corporate matching is when your employer will match a contribution you assign to your cause of choice. Verizon, EBMUD and others allow you as an employee to choose what cause they will support in your name (matching a contribution you make). Ask your HR person at work if that is available and identify an independent Black school that you would like to support.


Own a local business? Sponsorship levels that may seem small to your bottom line, when pooled with other businesses can make a significant difference to a Black independent school. An annual scholarship in your businesses name can be earmarked to pay for a specific student’s or group of students’ education.


Small monthly donations from individuals (think a revolving $20 per month donation on your credit card) also adds up to big gains for a school, especially when several in the community participate.


Belong to a social club or group? Asking your peers to consider a formal, monthly or annual contribution to a local school is a great way to advocate for social justice and equity in education. Again, an annual scholarship in your group’s name can be earmarked to pay for a specific student’s or group of students’ education.


An alumni of an Independent Black school? Start an alumni association to fiscally sponsor your alma mater (or if closed any other Independent Black school). Who knows more than you how valuable the experience is?


We look forward to the challenge of inspiring plentiful support from the community! It is all part of the work of realizing our collective worth, both in terms of economic worth and most importantly in terms of societal, spiritual and cosmic worth.

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