A Discussion facilitated by Diane D. Turner, Curator of the Charles L. Blockson Collection, Temple University
At African American Museum of Philadelphia
701 Arch Street, Philadelphia
Moonstone Arts Center
The Madhubutis have spent their lives working to promote African American education. They have taught at traditional schools; have created schools which reflect their own views on education; have mentored children from preschool to graduate school; have taught and inspired generations; have produced their own teaching materials through their own publishing house and have combined theory with practice, not being happy to sit in the ivory tower. This couple reflects the very best in what artists and educators should be: honest and brave with the highest integrity and skill, they have been unstoppable.
Facilitated by Diane D. Turner, Curator of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries. Her areas of teaching and research include Black history, film and music and she is the author of the children’s book, My Name is Oney Judge, illustrated by Cal Massey, and Feeding the Soul: Black Music, Black Thought.
It was in me to get an education and to teach my people. This idea was deep in my soul.”
-Fanny Jackson Coppin, Principal of The Institute for Colored Youth from 1869 to 1902
Honoring Haki & Safisha Madhubuti For Continuing the Tradition
Occasionally there are exceptional teachers who are able to reach out and change the lives of their students. Here are two people who have done extraordinary work individually but have also worked together to create educational opportunities both within the traditional educational environment and within the community. Thank You Haki and Safisha Madhubuti.
Dr. Carol D. Lee (Safisha Madhubuti) is an innovative educator who has spent her life devoted to teacher preparation and development, urban education and cultural contexts affecting learning and literacy. “‘Mama Safisha’ has changed the lives of thousands of African-American children and youth in Chicago over the last 30 years. As an internationally renowned researcher in teacher education who developed and implemented ‘cultural modeling’ as a way to build on cultural and social strengths that urban youth bring to the classroom, Dr. Lee has profoundly affected the practices of numerous teachers, teacher educators and literacy researchers around the world. As an intellectual leader of numerous groups, professional societies and associations over her lifetime as well as a strong leader and esteemed professor on our university campus, Carol Lee inspires all of us.” Penelope L. Peterson, dean of Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. Dr Lee is president of the American Educational Research Association, a fellow of the National Academy of Education, and a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Study.
In 1969 she met her future husband Haki R. Madhubuti (then Don L. Lee), a prominent poet in the black arts movement, and together they helped to found the Institute of Positive Education. This community-based, African-centered organization sponsored seminars on issues with which the black community wrestled, and it held classes, ran a food co-op and farm, and published a magazine and pamphlets.
In 1972, under Lee’s direction, the institute began its own school, New Concept Development Center, which started as a Saturday program and expanded into a full-fledged school by 1974. Both the institute and New Concept Development Center still operate today as well as the three charter schools in Chicago that the Madhubuiti’s also cofounded: the Betty Shabazz International Charter School, the Barbara A. Sizemore Academy, and the DuSable Leadership Academy.
Haki R. Madhubuti, publisher, editor and educator, is a leading poet and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement. He has published more than 31 books (some under his former name, Don L. Lee) and is one of the world’s best-selling authors of poetry and non-fiction. He founded Third World Press and Black Books Bulletin. He is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award and others. Professor Madhubuti is a founder and chairman of the board of the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent. In 2006, he was awarded the Literary Legacy Award from the National Black Writers Conference for creating and supporting Black literature and for building Black literary institutions. In 2009, he was named one of the “Ebony Power 150: Most Influential Blacks in America” for education. In 2010, he was presented with the President’s Pacesetters Award from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, and was awarded the Ninth Annual Hurston/Wright Legacy prize in poetry for his book, Liberation Narratives. His distinguished teaching career includes faculty positions at Columbia College of Chicago, Cornell University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Howard University, Morgan State University, and the University of Iowa. He is the former University Distinguished Professor and a professor of English at Chicago State University where he founded and was director-emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program.