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Christian, far right, celebrates with his 5th-grade classmates at Sankofa School of Creative and Performing Arts — a Deborah Brown school.

By BWSTimes Staff 

Finding black academic excellence in an entire school is like finding a needle in a haystack. They are an anomaly in today’s America.

Schools with a majority black student population tend to perform academically unsatisfactory than schools attended by majority white students as a consequence of decades of systemic institutional racism in public schools.

Tulsa, however, is one of those places with bright spots — two to be exact, Sankofa School of Creative and Performing Arts and the Deborah Brown Community School. Both schools founded by Deborah Brown, one of Oklahoma’s best and iconic educators.

On Tuesday, Sankofa graduated its 5th-grade class for the 2018-2019 school year.

5th-grade Christian shared his journey through Sankofa, a free public charter school, and spoke about how both schools nurture students to be prepared for tomorrow’s opportunities. 

YouTube video

Christian’s Speech 

“Good morning fellow students and adults!

Welcome to Sankofa’s 2019 5th grade graduating class ceremony.

The 2018 – 2019 school year has been long but successful.

In 2016, I walked nervously into a space that would empower me to aim for excellence.

And guess what?

I am excellent.

At least that’s what Marva Collins would say.

But the truth is, I didn’t walk into Sankofa believing I could become excellent.

I was a terrible reader, math wasn’t going so well, and I was unaware that it takes discipline to be a somebody.

Discipline will strengthen you up, help you make the right choices, and most importantly, it will turn you into a leader with purpose.

The path to leadership, however, isn’t an easy road to travel.

Becoming a leader is hard work. It requires grit, personal growth, and passion.

At Sankofa, I had to study harder than in previous schools.

I remember the timed-mathematical homework assignments, and the lengthy long poems I struggled to remember in preparation for the Black History performances.

I remember grappling with essays.

The thought of writing consumed me with fear to the point that sometimes I wanted to quit.

But I didn’t.

The historic Black icons covering the walls of my school motivated me to keep marching forward.

Gorge Washington Carver was my motivation.

Ironically, I will be attending Gorge Washington Carver middle next year.

Hence, at Sankofa, I learned about my history and culture —how life once treated people who look like me in a negative way, and how resilient they were to adversity.

Sankofa changed how I see and move through the world.

I have improved for the better.

Again, there are times where it was hard, but you can get through it because I got through it.

Out of all the options I had for elementary schools, Sankofa and DBCS was the best for us.

To conclude, I’ll end with this profound quote from the Asian philosopher Confucius.

‘The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to excellence.’

I want to congratulate all of my fellow classmates.

We did it!

Thank you!”

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