"YOUR HISTORY DID NOT BEGIN WITH SLAVERY"...
That's the mission of Miles Dean. Teaching not just black youth, but all youth, that Black History didn’t start with slavery and African Americans have a rich history, he’s doing it all on horseback. That’s right, Miles Dean has already traveled through several states to include West Virginia, Tennessee and now the great region of West Texas on his horse Sankofa and two other horses. Though Dean may receive the accolades for his untiring efforts to educate America, Sankofa cannot be left out. Sankofa, gives new purpose behind why we should look back…sometimes. Sankofa is an Akan word which means : Return To The Source--SAN—return, KO—go, FA—look, seek, take. What better way to take a journey into the past through our earliest means of transportation—the horse.
Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in New Jersey, Dean is a social studies educator in Newark. While Dean is on a leave of absence from his teaching position, his students will track his journey via his website www.blackheritageriders.org.
Dean made his way by horseback into El Paso on the afternoon of Monday, February 11, 2008. Having made it all the way to Exit 26 (I-10W), he had to make a stop. EPPD was just a little bit curious as to why a man on a horse was traveling through town. Though his journey had to be briefly interrupted by ‘El Paso’s finest’, the kind officers made a call to the Chief for guidance on the matter. There is no law against riding horseback across this land, so instead of hindering the cause, they escorted him to his destination of El Paso’s only black community gathering mecca, the McCall Neighborhood Center.
His no nonsense, yet creative style of instruction is embraced by many, especially the students he has mentored over the past twenty years from elementary and secondary grade levels. Dean’s students’ State standardized testing scores average above 75%.
He hopes to teach America that though you must use the standard History books, don’t forget the rest of the story. He says children are missing out on the truth.
Dean is on his way to Los Angeles his final destination for this trip. He'll be traveling through New Mexico, Arizona and then California before returning to New Jersey.
links of interest:
Dusty Rhodes and Velda Freeman and Sankofa
While I usually refrain from interjecting personal thoughts into articles, this is an important historic occasion. I was moved with compassion as I found out more and more about Mr. Dean, the Black Heritage Riders and the purpose of the organization. Our motto is: “It’s About Life…It’s About Us”. I would be remiss not to include this vital part of history that Mr. Dean has so graciously shared with us. While we are taught never to look back, it’s wise to do so in certain circumstances. Just as Sankofa’s name states, as we move forward, we must remember to keep going, but pick up those sacred, precious pieces of history that our ancestors left in order to have the strength to move on...with a purpose.