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Alchemy of the Soul

An African-centered Education


Joyce Piert

It started with a dream, a dream in the night that challenged the dream of the author’s life. That dream, which evolved through her personal experiences, was to start an African-centered school. The dream in the night ignited the journey that led to this book, which was to discover answers to critical questions such as: What is an African-centered education model? How do former students perceive this experience? And can, or even should, this educational model be effectively adopted in traditional public schools? Joyce Piert offers this book as a critical resource to parents, educators, potential teachers, community leaders, and policymakers who are seriously pondering the question of how to provide all students with a holistic educational experience. In Alchemy of the Soul, the vibrant voices of African American young adults share their stories in robust and candid narratives of their educational experiences at an African-centered school.
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Chapter 2. Roots of an African-Centered Educational Model



As he mused about these things, he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. (Coelho & Clarke, 1988/1993, p. 30)

The African-­centered educational movement in the United States was due to the collective and self-­determined efforts of Africans in America, both free and enslaved, to provide education for themselves and their ­children. This educational model, which existed in a rough evolving structure in the 17th and 18th centuries, was perceived as a necessary component in the drive toward liberation, freedom, and independence of Africans in America. I discovered that it is the consensus of current research on African-­centered education that this movement has its roots in Black Nationalism and ­Pan-­Africanism (Akoto, 1992; Asante, 1991; Essien-­Udom, 1962; Ginwright, 2004).

One theorist, E. U. Essien-­Udom (1962), defined Black Nationalism as the following:

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