Ollie McClean: Her Vision And Pan-African Spirit Birthed Sankofa Academy

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Mrs. Ollie McClean has a life long history of enforcing guiding principles which inform and give others a shared sense of collective identity.

Twenty seven years ago, Ollie McClean established Sankofa International Academy, as independent African school, out of a need to provide a quality education for her young son Calvin Jr., who subsequently attended C.W. Post University on a Football Scholarship.

Sankofa promotes challenging educational experiences and implements comprehensive, innovative, educational and cultural programs which maximize students’ potential as they develop critical thinking skills. And, with today’s troubling economy, there are not many independent institutions which can boast of having been steadfast in providing continuous service to African centered communities.

Considering the genius of the graduates of Sankofa, it is evident that the supporters appreciate the benefits of an education rich in cultural history. Students from this independent school have won scholarships to historical Black colleges and an Ivy League school such as Vassar. They have performed at the United Nations, have been featured on Channel 7’s “Like It Is” program with Gil Noble, led panel discussions on radio talk shows and highlighted in many newspapers.

Starting at age 10, the students also engage in weekly Community Service through partnership with Fort Green Stuyvesant Heights Senior Center. This interaction with seniors allows for the development of respect and an appreciation for the Elders, personal growth and the usage of critical thinking skills as they research the connection between oral and written history.

As a member of the former Federal Steering committee, representing the African community, Ollie McClean recognized that her own well being is derived from the family and community’s well being. Therefore, she continuously seeks to bring the world’s attention to the plight of the African Burial Ground. For two consecutive years, 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 was on the ballot on Election Day. She understands that purpose requires service to our communities and families.

Ollie McClean is a civil rights leader and community icon who has been recognized at City Hall by elected officials, featured on “Like it is” with Gil Noble, and highlighted in media and print.

Through membership on the Boards of The Porter Foundation and the Black Solidarity Education Committee, she continues to embrace the principle that those who live in the African community are obligated to support and see that the interest of each person is tied to the interest of the family and community.

For more information, please contact  Ms. Ollie McClean at
Sankofa International Academy, 1670 Fulton Street, between Schenectady
& Troy Avenues, Brooklyn, NY,  11213-1251. Telephone (347) 365-9989.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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