Just Phenomenal

We are enthralled with author-architect Lesley Lokko. And with good reason. She is the founder of the African Futures Institute, which has a mission to transform Africa’s built environments by educating a new generation of African architects, urban designers, and policy makers to lead the global conversation around social and environmental equity. Here’s how it started:

It all began with a series of ‘what if’ questions: what if a new school of architecture suddenly emerged from a new and unexpected place? / what if Africa and the African Diaspora held the key to overcoming so many contemporary challenges of race, environmental justice, new forms of urbanism? / what if a new African school could teach the global North how to embed diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of built environment pedagogy? / what if a constellation of progressive global voices could find the space and freedom to pursue a truly transformative agenda? / what if a new and progressive school could produce a generation of truly innovative African and Diaspora architects, unafraid to tackle some of the world’s thorniest issues? / what if we reversed almost a thousand years of exploitative practices, giving Africa’s dynamism and creative energy a space in which to flourish? / what if Africa was truly understood as the laboratory of the future? To read about the AFI in detail click here. To read about our patrons, trustees and global network of academic advisors, click here.

Ohio, stand up. Ohio, stand up!

Black Tech Week is almost here. Coinciding with the Cincinnati Music Festival, Black Tech Week is designed for tech professionals, funders, enthusiasts, and allies of the global Black tech community.  Learn more here.

SPOTLIGHT: Aisha Nyandoro

Aisha Nyandoro is Chief Executive Officer of Springboard To Opportunities, gaining national attention, in part, for being the designer of Magnolia Mother’s Trust, an initiative that provides low-income, Black mothers in Jackson, Mississippi $1,000 cash on a monthly basis, no strings attached, for 12 months straight. While there have been several initiatives for a guaranteed income worldwide, this is the first that specifically targets extremely low-income families headed by a Black female living in affordable housing in the United States.

Springboard To Opportunities provides strategic, direct support to residents of affordable housing. The organization’s service delivery model uses a “radically resident-driven” approach designed to improve quality of life and end the generational poverty trajectory. Nyandoro has more than a decade of experience developing, implementing, and evaluating programs aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals with limited resources.

She has worked in various capacities—as an academic, evaluator, philanthropist, and nonprofit executive. These varied experiences have allowed her to better understand systems and policies that impact vulnerable communities. Prior to serving with Springboard, Aisha served as a Program Officer with the Foundation for the Mid South. During her tenure, she strengthened the Foundation’s community development portfolio by executing a plan focused on five specific strategies aimed at transforming communities. Additionally, she led the Foundation’s place based initiative – Community of Opportunities. Under her leadership, community leaders were able to leverage more than $20 million in federal and private funding. In addition, she established statewide, regional, and national public-private partnerships to create resources and assist the Foundation in achieving its mission and goals.

She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Tennessee State University, a M.A. in Community Psychology and Urban Affairs and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Michigan State University. Aisha shares her commitment to community with the various boards of directors and advisory councils to which she lends her expertise and service. She has received multiple honors, including recognition as a fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network and Ascend at the Aspen Institute. Aisha’s life mission is to holistically and compassionately lift families out of cycles of poverty. When not working to transform impoverished communities, she is a wife and Mommy to two best little boys in the world.

We’re Coming Home!

Some of us, at least. On June 13, the Smithsonian Institution voted to return a portion of Benin’s artistic heritage to Nigeria. Their statement reads:

“The Smithsonian Board of Regents voted today, June 13, to deaccession 29 Benin bronzes held in the National Museum of African Art’s collection. The bronzes, which were removed during the 1897 British raid of Benin City, will be returned to Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments at a later date.

On April 29, the Smithsonian adopted an ethical returns policy as part of the Institution’s overall Collections Management policy. The new policy authorizes each Smithsonian museum to return collections, in appropriate circumstances, based on ethical considerations. In certain cases, such as the Benin bronzes, the board is required to approve the deaccession and return of objects when they are of significant monetary value, research or historical value, or when the deaccession might create significant public interest.

The Board of Regents approved the following motion: “VOTED that the Board of Regents approves the Secretary’s request to deaccession twenty-nine (29) Benin Kingdom court style artworks in the collection of the National Museum of African Art and transfer title and return the artworks to Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments as the representative of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

Freedom Yet?

We are extremely excited about the National Juneteenth Museum, designed by architect, Darren James. To learn more about the museum, and the holiday, and the indomitable work of Ms. Opal Lee, please visit their website here.

WHAT IS JUNETEENTH?

As described by the museum, Texas was the last state in the rebellion to allow enslavement. While the Emancipation Proclamation was made law on January 1, 1863, the freedom from slavery wasn’t announced in Texas until Union Major-General Gordon Granger issued General Order #3 in Galveston on June 19, 1865. The date, since dubbed “Juneteenth,” is now observed annually as a federal holiday to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation’s enforcement and the liberation of the remainder of the enslaved both in Texas and throughout the newly reformed United States.

Back on the Block

The international Pan-African community is celebrating the reopening of London’s historic Africa Centre. Located on Great Suffolk Street in Southwark, the Africa Centre is now back in business, serving as a critical anchor in this critical, pivotal Wakanda suburb. Check out this article from The Guardian.