Sister Ollie McClean, Pillar Of Bed-Stuy, Passes Away

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Ollie McClean

Sister Ollie McClean, the founder and proprietor of Sankofa International Academy, an Africa-centric primary educational institute in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood passed away on May 26, after a long illness. She was in her 70s.

Sister Ollie was like a mother to all of the members of the Guerrilla Journalism workshop family. She'd allowed the workshop to meet at Sankofa every Monday evening, from 6PM to 9PM for the last four years. Sister Ollie had operated Sankofa for many years and used her own personal savings to defray some of the costs.

Sister Ollie sacrificed much -- in time and her own personal resources-- to instill pride and knowledge of African history and ancestry in her students. This in turn inspired excellent performance by the students in other academic areas.

Her dedication was recognized and she was frequently invited on "Like It Is," to discuss her work by the show's late founder and producer, Gil Noble.

Sister Ollie was an unwavering Pan-African who taught her young students about the origin of man and Africa's central role in human history, in science, and the arts.

The best thing that friends of Sister Ollie, and Sankofa Academy, and of the education of our children can do is to support Sankofa Academy to ensure that the legacy of Sister Ollie and her work continues.

Sister Ollie was a valuable Guerrilla Journalism class member, an intelligent woman, and a great writer who participated in the workshops, critiqued others' writings and submitted her own work for critique.

Sister Ollie also made sure that the workshop members weren't thirsty or hungry during the weekly Monday meetings; there was always water, juices, cookies, and other refreshments. Sister Ollie was a pillar of the community in Brooklyn and in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood especially, speaking up about abysmal conditions in the city's public schools, police brutality, and the failure of many of us to hold our elected representatives accountable; the Sister was bold and courageous and never minced her words.

The following passages are from a profile of Sister Ollie that was published in The Black Star News: "Beyond her work to educate the young minds, she continuously seeks to bring the world’s attention to the plight of the African Burial Ground. For two consecutive years, 2007 and 2008, Mrs. McClean addressed the United Nations General Assembly during their session on Indigenous Issues and with passion outlined to the heads of states the case of the cemetery of enslaved Africans unearthed in lower Manhattan by the General Service Administration in 1990. As co-chair of the Committee of Descendents of the African Burial Ground, Ollie McClean is in an on-going struggle with GSA to remove the Burial ground from under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department and give our ancestors their due respect in death.

When the seat of the Late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in Brooklyn’s 11th Congressional District was highly contested in 2006, the community asked Ollie McClean to step up to fill that potential void. Using”It’s about the Children” as her campaign theme, Ollie managed to get on the ballot on Election Day. She understands that purpose requires service to our communities and families."

The Guerrilla Journalism family will always be inspired by Sister Ollie's tireless work and sacrifice for the betterment of African people everywhere. Rest in Power Beloved Sister Ollie McClean.


The following are the final celebration arrangements for Sister Ollie McClean

WAKE: Tuesday June 2nd 2015

Viewing:  2:00pm -7:00pm

Woodward Funeral Home, 1 Troy Avenue

Brooklyn, NY

Service: Wednesday June 3rd 2015

Viewing: 9:00 -10:00 am

Service: 10:00am

Concord Baptist Church of Christ

833 Marcy Avenue , Brooklyn, NY 11216

Burial: Calverton National Cemetery, LI



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