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Detroit’s oldest African-centered school celebrates 30 years and a broader vision for the future

Staff report

Thirty years ago few people in the city of Detroit had heard about African-Centered Education. However, a growing movement was emerging in churches, schools, and living rooms. Parents and teachers of consciousness wanted something more for the children in the city. There was a desire to reach the essence of who our children are and bridge the gap of the void of African American culture in the traditional public school system.

On Thursday, June 30, 2005 Aisha Shule/W.E.B. DuBois Preparatory Academy (formerly The Alexander Crummell Affirmative School) will celebrate the conclusion of its 30th academic year as the realization of that desire. The gala, themed “A Broader Vision” will chronicle the academy’s 30 years as a leader in African centered education. Student artwork and performances will be showcased at the event. As a special treat, Miami recording artist, Leesa Richards, a former student, will give a premier performance of her debut CD.

Imani A. Humphrey, known as Mama Imani, had a vision which she shared with Rev. Kwasi Thornell at the Alexander Crummell Center for Worship and Learning. Together they recruited parents to discuss the possibility of creating a learning environment that would truly reflect the culture of children of African descent. The group launched a Saturday school to test African-centered educational theory. The Alexander Crummell Affirmative School was the outgrowth of this experiment.

The school opened its doors in 1974 with 12 children. By the end of the first year there were 60 children K-8th grade enrolled full-time. The school was renamed Aisha Shule in 1982 to further reflect the identity, purpose and direction of the African-centered institution. The W.E.B. DuBois Preparatory Academy was founded in 1992 as the first African Centered high school in Michigan in response to parents whose children were exiting the 8th grade. In 1994 the schools merged as Detroit’s first charter public school academy creating a unique K-12 system where 90 percent of the graduates attend or have graduated from college. The academy now has an enrollment of 300 students in grades K-12. For 30 years, Mama Imani, her staff, and the shule have been an example and model of African Centered education for educators and schools across the country.

“We are looking forward to seeing everyone who has been a part of the Aisha Shule/DuBois family,” says Humphrey “We really want the celebration to feel like a grand family reunion.”

Tickets for the event are $100 and are available by calling 313.345.6050. Proceeds will benefit programs at the academy.

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