The founder of Little Sun People, a New York City based Preschool which teaches children about their African heritage has won $200,000 David Prize award. Fela Barclift who is popularly known as “Mama Fela” decided to establish this school after attempts to find a racially balanced school for her daughter failed.
“I went to minimum 10 different daycare centers and I didn’t find a brown doll, a book with Black people in it or brown people. I didn’t find any posters or pictures of anybody who looked like her,” she said, Mama Fela then decided to start her own school to introduce contents of black heritage.
In an earlier interview, she revealed that, she decided to “make a place where there’s a school for her, at least until she’s ready for kindergarten, where she can have some brown dolls, where she can have some storybooks. I actually had the color in storybooks. I got a little team of parents and we just colored in some storybooks and changed the hair.”
Her initiative was duly recognized as the organizers said she was shortlisted from a list of thousands of people, narrowed down to a final list of five which won the ultimate $1 million prize which will be shared among them. According to the disbursement arrangements, the said amount will be spread over a two-year period to help her expand the school and accommodate more children.
Reacting to the award, Fela said “winning the Prize will help ensure that this work is codified so that other institutions and future generations can see the power of learning about African culture and history from an early age.”
Commenting on the standard of education in her school, she said “we follow the curriculum and make sure that we meet the benchmarks for what our children need to have going forward. But in addition to that, we infuse a lot of history, culture, ways, information, perspective, reflections of people who are people of color, you know, in the present and historically.”
“We just make the connections that there is so much that our children can be proud of, that kind of, I think, is like a ballast and a foundation that helps them to stand up against a very systemic racism that they will face if they’re of color unless something changes in the near future.” Barclift added.