On Thursday, people of the African Diaspora in America are celebrating the fifth day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration for the community to rededicate itself to a different principle rooted in African culture. 

The fifth principle, nia, is a Kiswahili word that means purpose. Under this principle, individuals commit to working collectively to build, develop and defend the community. The aim is to restore the historic greatness of African peoples. It recognizes the value that people of African descent have contributed to world history.

What better place to start achieving that goal than with the next generation? That’s exactly what Fela Barclift is doing through her Afrocentric preschool, Little Sun People, in Bed Stuy. The early childhood years are a critical time to instill pride in one’s racial identity and to prevent the internalization of racism.

“The challenge for us as Black people in this country is that racism has not disappeared,” Barclift told BK Reader.

“When children have a strong foundation, they can respond to systemic racism with, ‘No. You cannot shake me, because I know who I am. I know I am amazing, my people are amazing, I have people who love me and I can do anything.’ I would love for every child who is Black and Brown to know that.”

Little Sun People is a preschool with public and private options and its curriculum operates within the Department of Education’s educational expectations and standards, including a substantial STEAM program.

What’s different at Little Sun People is that each lesson in the curriculum is infused with the textures, sounds, traditions and stories of the African Diaspora.
Barclift is on a mission to expand the school and its mission to reach even more children.

BK Reader spoke with her about what progress she has made. Here is a link to the story.


Beginning on Sunday, December 26, and for the next seven days of Kwanzaa, BK Reader will feature a different local resident or organization that exemplifies one of each of the seven principles! Go here to read about UmojaKujichaguliaUjima and Ujamaa.

Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts is a New York-based, award-winning freelance journalist. During his career, Nigel has written for several newspapers and magazines. He has extensive experience covering politics and was a...

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