February is a month to celebrate and honor the contribution and achievements of people of African descent to World History. It is a time in America for us to reflect on our collective legacy and learn from our past to inspire a new future. Oakland-based, Black-led organization Spearitwurx has created an experience like no other as part of their work to inspire intergenerational wellness and racial healing. On Feb 28th, join in the virtual offering of the Experience Sankofa Project “Ancestors Walk with Me” as we commemorate Black History, understand the Black Now, and inspire a Black Future. Sankofa is an Adinkra symbol from Ghana, West Africa, that means “look back to move forward.” The time is now to reflect and connect to the greatness inside of us with love, dignity, compassion, and truth.
What is the Experience Sankofa Project?
The Experience Sankofa Project Living Museum is an innovative installation exhibit that combines history, live performance art, and sacred altars into an interactive timeline of African and American history. Spearitwurx curated powerful and provocative period-specific “living installations” using lights, sounds, smells, and activators (aka actors) that evoke visceral emotions as an ode to African peoples’ greatness, oppression, resistance, and aspirations. See Mizan and Sizwe, Spearitwurx Co-Creators and curators of the Experience Sankofa Project, explain it in their own words:
Experience Sankofa Project is a great way to explore and honor Black/African History. 2019 marked 400 years since the first documented ship landed in Jamestown, Virginia with a cargo of enslaved Africans. 400 years later, we have much to learn about the “peculiar institution” of slavery and its inter-generational impacts on all people. From the Original Peoples in the Olduvai Gorge to Timbuktu, The Transatlantic Slave trade to Black Wallstreet, The Harlem Renaissance to the Black Panthers, this exhibit brings history to life, highlighting Oakland’s specific contributions. Our goal is that our community will glean a better understanding of African/Black peoples’ contributions to human civilization and ignite our collective capacity to build empathy and solidarity to transform our social realities and create a positive future.
Experience Sankofa Project as a Tool for Racial Healing
Experience Sankofa Project began in 2008 as an artistic contribution to an experiential workshop at Camp Akili–a healing-centered camp for Black youth facilitated by Flourish Agenda. In 2019, we expanded the Experience Sankofa Project to Youth Uprising, the Life is Living Festival, and Stanford University as part of their two-day series “Speak Up, Teach-In, and Make Change” that engaged students, staff, faculty, and alumni in racial healing dialogue.
One Stanford student said the Experience Sankofa Project said, “Amazing! I felt like Stanford students, faculty, and community members were all coming together to give space for racial injustice and acknowledge our history. I really appreciated the guided facilitation and the opportunity to meet more peers and share stories. Thank you for this one-of-a-kind experience.” More reflections on our Stanford experience are highlighted in the podcast “State of the Human” produced by Adesuwa Agbonile:
Also, see this Amazing visual by Spearitwurx own Spear of the Nation called “Time is Now”, filmed inside Experience Sankofa Project at Stanford University in 2019:
In February 2020, Spearitwurx opened our first brick-and-mortar location at Eastmont Mall in East Oakland. The Spearitwurx Center for Culture and Wellness is a cultural coworking hub and events space that housed our Experience Sankofa Project Living Museum. We had an amazing two-week run with six sold-out shows of Experience Sankofa Project, then the COVID-19 Pandemic shut everything down.
In an effort to continue the amazing momentum and transformative impact, Spearitwurx created the Virtual offering, “Ancestors Walk with Me” to continue the powerful conversations for racial healing at schools, community organizations, businesses, and government agencies. Dr. Bronner’s Soap Company is one of those courageous businesses that have participated in Spearitwurx’s Racial Healing workshop series. They even galvanized nearly 300 staff members to participate in their Black History Month Diversity Equity and Inclusion events featuring the virtual Experience Sankofa Project.
Michael Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s, said that the Spearitwurx Black History Month session was the “Best DEI presentation ever! You made each audience member feel connected and safe to be vulnerable with each other… Hearts and minds were opened and impacted. Thank you so much!”
David Bronner, the Cosmic Engagement Officer, and his wife Mia had the privilege of participating in one of 10 exclusive live activations of the Experience Sankofa Project in Oakland. This activation was filmed by Netflix as part of the footage captured for the Michael Pollan Documentary “How to Change Your Mind”:
Comparing both the in-person and the virtual session, David said candidly, “I’ve got to say that the way you set this up, delivered the material, and facilitated the discussion made this just as immersive and powerful as the in-person experience.” He went on to reflect “We were blown away by how powerful, engaging, and effective your presentation was. Thank you so much for this and the work you’re doing in the world generally.”
Since, 2020, the live and virtual offerings of the Experience Sankofa Project have been shared with over 6,000 people and well-received by all.
- 100% of participants surveyed said they would “recommend the experience to others.”
- 93% of participants said they “will use this experience to help make a positive change in our world.”
Many participants have compared our humble grassroots museum to be on par with the African American Museum in Washington DC. Reflections resound on the powerful impact of this work in helping to create space for essential dialogue around race, power, identity, history, culture, and aspirations.
The Future of Experience Sankofa Project NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
The transformative power of the Experience Sankofa Project and our Spearitwurx Center for Culture and Wellness resonates throughout the community as a beacon to an under-resourced East Oakland. For the past three years, we have worked as a proud partner of the Black Cultural Zone to intentionally revitalize East Oakland. We housed our Experience Sankofa Project in Eastmont Mall as an effort to activate and inspire cultural awareness, economic development, self-love, and wellness.
Unfortunately, Eastmont is old and in need of repairs. The recent atmospheric rivers that drenched most of California had a devastating impact on our Center. The entire front of the Experience Sankofa Project flooded and we have been forced to close. While repairs are forthcoming, our lease is expiring, and instead of enduring dilapidation, we are looking for a beautiful permanent home to rebuild Experience Sankofa Project and expand our capacity to support school field trips and larger conferences for racial healing and community wellness.
On Feb 28, 2023 from 12pm-1pm PST (3-4pm EST) we will host our “Ancestors Walk with Me” Virtual Offering for the Experience Sankofa Project to launch our Capital Campaign to rebuild the Sankofa Project. Tickets are by donation and can be purchased here. This is the chance for you to see the virtual museum and learn more about the work we do to transform lives. We know that our world is abundant, resources are plentiful, and we trust that those who are able and willing to support this movement will do so.
Lynn Twist reminds us, “Money given to make a difference does.” We have been honored by the support of Dr. Bronner’s who have invested annual financial support of Spearitwurx and have committed $10k in 2023 for our rebuild efforts. We are looking for other organizations (and/or individuals) within the All- One community to match Dr. Bronner’s donations as a way to actively honor Black History Month and support Black-led cultural institutions from the ground up.
Our goal is to raise $1,619,000 in 61 days. Can we count on you to support us? Please share this with those who can and elevate the work of Black Led organizations during – and after – Black History Month.
SSpearitwurx is an Oakland-based organization founded in 2004 that inspires Intergenerational Wellness & Racial Healing. SPEARITWURX is Co-Created by the husband & wife team, Mizan and Sizwe. Mizan Alkebulan-Abakah, MPH, CYT-500 is an Artist, Organizer, Healer & Social Scientist. Sizwe Andrews-Abakah is a Change Maker, Performing Artist, Farmer & Facilitator. We create experiences to transform lives through Cultural Events, Community Convenings, Professional Consulting, and Wellness Coaching for Families, Schools, Organizations, Businesses, and Government agencies. Our work is creative, courageous, and inspired by love.
I am Because we are! We Because I am! May the Circle Be Unbroken!
“Ancestors Walk With Me” Museum Photos