Looking Back to Inform the Future

Looking Back to Inform the Future During Black History Month
By Kerlyne Colin, Director of Equity and Special Projects


“Sankofa.” That one word, and the African proverb that often accompanied it, profoundly affected my life. Sankofa comes from the Akan language of Ghana and means “reach back and get it.”

Growing up, I was constantly reminded about the true meaning behind it.

The proverb teaches people that we should retrieve things of value from our knowledge of the past. In other words, knowing one’s history and heritage is to know your current self and the world around you, and teaches you how to better both.

The idea that knowing your past informs your present and future has always stuck with me and served as a source of inspiration as I planned this year’s Black History Month programming on our Children’s Village residential campus.

I firmly believe that young people, especially African American youth, should know about the past. Black people have a long and complicated history in this country that shapes how we see ourselves and how are treated by others today. There is power in being educated about the history of your people because it gives you a sense of pride and a foundation to build toward your future. It saddens me that many of the young people I work with do not have a strong connection to their history because they are so far removed from their family origins due to their involvement in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

That’s where my job as Director of Equity and Special Projects for Children’s Village comes into focus. Through my work, I can ensure that those same individuals receive quality education on Black History. This year, we’ve chosen programming that highlights important figures and events in Black American history that have profoundly impacted the world as we know it today.

While it is imperative to know about and learn from the past, we must also use this information to build a better future for our nation’s Black youth. There are so many exciting and fulfilling career paths for young Black community members to explore that they do not even know about. We created a “Black and Gifted” career fair as an integral part of this year’s Children’s Village Black History Month programming to showcase a variety of job paths that our residents may be interested in later on. We want them to know now that their future job prospects are limitless.

Black History Month is a time for reflection while looking toward the future. It is my duty to provide the resources and inspiration for these youth to know where they came from and the possibilities that lie ahead. With the right support, young people can fulfill the Sankofa proverb and build themselves a brighter future. I’m more than happy to do my part to help them succeed.


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