[Tribute: Ollie McClean]
Our intrepid sister, Ollie McLean, made her transition May 27.
Her legacy is one of embracing the African Diaspora and all that it encompasses. The love of our culture can be seen in the many and varied groups she warmly welcomed into the Afro-centric private school she established 30 years ago – Sankofa International Academy.
Her goal was to ensure that African children would know of their accomplishments in all aspects of civilization. She can rest assured this task was achieved. Many of her students, past and present, reflect the pride and self-confidence gained under Ollie’s able leadership. Sankofa students have performed to critical acclaim at the Gullah Festival in South Carolina for several years. They were also involved with activities at the United Nations and excelled in that competition.
Ollie opened Sankofa’s doors to Guerrilla Journalism workshop almost four years ago. She became a prolific writer contributing several articles on the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan and other commentaries on current events involving African people.
Sankofa is also the headquarters for a martial arts groups, various political gatherings and community events. She had many activities where the Sankofa children got to know the members of the local senior citizen group, entertained for them on special occasions, and visited with them frequently.
On a more personal level, I’ll miss this wise sister’s warmth and supportive spirit. We shared numerous social and cultural events. In particular, we toured Egypt on the Potomac with Tony Browder; HBCU college tour with Michael Hooper’s organization Roots Revisited to the Harriet Tubman Museum on the Eastern Shore in Maryland; raising funds for Sankofa through a number of yard sales; and Guerrilla Journalism Kwaanza celebrations and fundraisers.
My special and private time was when we shared a taxi ride home after our Monday night Guerrilla Journalism workshop. These uplifting sessions never failed to provide lively conversations, and made the trip home seem much too short.
Ollie always had time to listen and counsel. She never sought fame or fortune, but she achieved the former in abundance from the community who loved her.
I’ll miss her, we’ll miss her, but her legacy of caring and loving your people will live on in each of us. We can’t go back, but we must go forward. We’ll carry her loving spirit with us every step of the way.
I know she’s shining with the “Best of Our Ancestors.”