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Rites of Passage
is an African American History
African-American history is the portion of American history that specifically discusses the African American or Black American ethnic group in the United States. Most African Americans are the descendants of captive Africans held in the United States from 1619 to 1865...
program sponsored by the Stamford, Connecticut
Stamford is a city in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 122,643, making it the fourth largest city in the state and the eighth largest city in New England...
US public schools. The program consists of an extra day of schooling on Saturday for 12 weeks, service projects, and a culminating educational trip to Gambia and Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...
. Gambia and Senegal are the ancestral homes of many US African Americans. The highlight of the trip is a visit to Goree Island, and the "Door of no Return". The Door of no Return symbolizes the last point of departure of African slaves being shipped to the Western Hemisphere. As Rodney Bass, the founder and director of the program describes it:
- ”By passing through "The Door of No Return" the students invalidate the legacy of slavery and reconnect with the ancestral heritage, linking their past to their present. We have seen the positive changes in the educational performance of our alumni students, and also the greater impact they have had on our community and the possibilities for their future.”
The program is open to 7th grade students. Students must apply and be accepted. Typical participation is 10 to 20 students.
The program was founded by Rodney Bass, a former principal in the Stamford school system. He was moved by his own first visit to West Africa. He and the other teachers who lead the program:
- “hypothesized that we can help produce healthier young people who now understand slavery was not their beginning, nor the principal means of defining the African-American experience, but instead a real, limited part of a legacy of faith, pride, and endurance that spans millennia.”
The program is open to students of all races and heritages. 2010 marked its fifth anniversary.
East Side House Settlement (Bronx, NY) a Bronx NY based after school program which teaches African American history.