When Dr. Adelaide L. Sanford speaks, the world not only listens but is motivated and inspired to move.
So, it happened earlier this month at the historic Weeksville Heritage Center for six distinguished high school seniors, whom themselves became history-makers as the winners of the first annual Adelaide L. Sanford Institute (ASI) Scholarship Awards.
ASI honors the life and work of Dr. Sanford, the nationally recognized educator and Vice Chancellor Emerita, Board of Regents University of the State of New York. The leader, in turn, has developed young leaders through her more than seven decades of allegiance to promoting the power of scholarship and educational excellence in the community.
At the June 2 Scholarship Awards Luncheon hosted by the ASI Board of Directors, the program notes contained Dr. Sanford’s message to the students read as a proclamation or directive to all students of color. It is printed here below exactly for that reason, and readers are invited to pass it on.
The 2023 scholarship recipients introduced by Dr. Christopher Smith, ASI Director, included: Gillian Fable and Jordan Houseal of Benjamin Banneker H.S., Rasheed Jordan of Boys & Girls H.S., and Kayene Lelitte, Laila Miller and Meagan Vanzie of Medgar Evers College Preparatory School.
June 3, 2023
My Beloved Children,
When I see you, I am suffused with awe at the wonder of you! Your creativity, your resilience, your capacity, your durability, your vibrant trend-setting pizzazz.
Simultaneously, I am aware and mindful of your vulnerability and the myriad crafted schemes to divert you from the realization of your innate potential.
Would that we could protect you from the diversions from your God’s image! Would that the multiple systems of “education,” imposed upon you, spoke the truth of your ancestry: pre-colonized classical African systems of value, chattel slavery, reconstruction’s entrenchment, broken promises, the sacrifices of the civil and human rights movement, the intractable residue and oozing scabs of psychological torture are uncovered daily.
But, we can and must inform you, and you are strengthened by the history. History becomes your protection!
We loved you when our pain and brokenness prevented us from expressing that love. We loved you when we hesitated to tell you “our story,” fearing your anger and possible despair. We loved you even when the magnified perceived power of the oppressor replaced courage with fear in the spirit of many of us and rendered us muted cowards or co-conspirators to infamy for personal and individual gain.
We love you now as we rush, frantic to catch up, to declare that you are not underprivileged or culturally deprived, in spite of having been “placed at risk.” You have surpassed the risk. No other group is a model to which you should aspire or to which you can be logically compared. Your unmatched excellence exceeds extrinsic, externally imposed models.
Stand tall, clear-eyed, focused, indefatigable, know more than what you see, hear more than what is spoken and understand more than what you read. Embrace a system of values that eschews aberrant behaviors that are anathema to your effable spirituality.
The popularized, cyclical rituals of self-destruction that pollute the body, mind, and soul are not evidence of approaching maturity! They are oppositional to the creative responsibility of men and womanhood. As life’s mystery unfolds around, beneath, and above you, analyze its meaning.
My Beloved Ones-the fathers and mothers of all our tomorrows-you are imbued by the Creator. His power and majesty are yours to claim.
Adelaide L. Sanford
Dr. Adelaide L. Sanford
Mother and Grandmother
Dr. Angela Moses was the mistress of ceremonies and Dr. Linda K. Patterson, ASI Board Chai, co-hosted. In conferring the honors, Dr. Patterson said that the students are “the true examples of the principles of scholarship and personal responsibility set down by Dr. Sanford. The celebration is a salute to the students’ tenacity, perseverance, and hard work … job well done.”
Dr. Smith, ASI executive director, said the students also were honored for their “unwavering commitment to scholarship and exceptional courage displayed in their pursuit of knowledge and personal growth.”
The mission of the ASI is to improve the school outcomes of Central Brooklyn’s students of color. The organization has four primary goals: professional development for educators; parent empowerment and advocacy; direct services to students, and providing “public policy direction that will influence decisions vital to the education of students of color. Please visit http://www.adelaidesanfordinstitute.org for the list of ASI’s accomplishments.
Also on the program were musical interludes by violinists Marcus Smith, Dean Thomas, Kylie Vassell, and Shakur Kelly of PS. 93; performances by Vicara Baker of the Restoration Academy and Malcolm Melendez of Edward R. Murrow H.S. with presentations by Nicole Jackson of Stony Brook University and Mitchara Sexius of The Restoration Academy. Dr. Renee Young delivered the closing remarks with a closing musical selection by Marcelle Lashley.
In addition to Drs. Patterson, Smith, and Young, Board members include Dr. Donna Jones, Ramona Morgan, Esq., Saratu Ghartey, Esq., Richard Jones, Dr. Daryl Rock, David Sanford, Dr. Jayminn Sanford-DeShields, Dr. Lester Young, Chancellor, NYS Board of Regents. On the Scholarship Committee, in addition to Drs. Rock, Patterson, and Young are Kristina Beecher, Imani Fischer, Dr. Stacey Haley Horne, Dr. Angela Moses, and Perry Williams.