Keep your children academically challenged over the summer

An email popped up a few days ago that caught my eye.

The subject line carried this entry: “What black parents must do this summer.”

I immediately opened it and noticed that it had a lot of helpful information from Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, an author, and creator of African American Images Inc., a Chicago-based communications company.

AAI publishes and distributes books of an Africentric nature that promote self-esteem, collective values, liberation and skill development, according to its website.

Kunjufu was educated at Morgan State, Illinois State, and Union Graduate School. His work has been featured in Ebony and Essence magazines, and he has been a guest on BET and “The Oprah Show.”

Kunjufu believes the three months of academic inactivity for black students during the summer negatively impacts their performance when school starts again in late August or early September.

He said Americans continue to “close schools for the summer as if we are an agrarian economy,” adding few black youngsters will be farming this summer.

“There is nothing wrong with black youth if their schools remained open during the summer and/or their parents kept them academically engaged,” he writes in his email.

Here is what he suggested black parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts and uncles should do with their children as summer moves along.

He challenged adults to take the children to libraries, museums, zoos and colleges.

“Black parents cannot allow their child to lose three months every year. Black parents cannot say they cannot afford the library. It’s free! Most museums have discounted days,” he writes.

Warriors Inc., at 2733 Market St., Youngstown, a nonprofit organization that seeks to develop youths and offers a variety of social and economic programs to help people excel, has a summer program that continues until Aug. 16.

The hours are from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Here’s what’s offered: Gardening and leadership, photography and nutrition, drama and biking.

Breakfast is from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m., and lunch is from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

For information, call staffers Wendy Robinson or Walter Hale at 330-783-5440.

Also, use your computers, smartphones, tablets and any other high-tech device you have to check out free programs at Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County or the Warren-Trumbull Public Library.

Kunjufu wrote that many parents allow their children to sleep longer, play more video games, watch more television and “play basketball until they can’t see the hoop.”

“These students will have to review the same work they had mastered in May in September,” he wrote.

“I am appealing to every father to take his children this summer to the library, museum and the zoo. I am appealing to every mother [that] if he won’t, you will,” Kunjufu’s email says.

He added that every adult should make sure their child reads at least one book per week and to write a book report.

“I am very concerned when I visit a house that has more CDs and downloads than books,” he says.

My parents didn’t make me write a book report, but they did encourage me, my brother and sister to read books and magazines.

I remember donating summer hours as a young adult reading Mario Puzo’s classic work “The Godfather.”

My wife and I encouraged our two children to read anything they could get their hands on.

Kunjufu said his company has designed a special collection of books for black boys.

“Research shows one of the major reasons boys dislike reading is because of the content,” he wrote.

Kunjufu is author of “There is Nothing Wrong With Black Students,” “Changing School Culture For Black Males” and “Raising Black Boys.”

If you want to find out more about Kunjufu, his books, and his company, go to his website

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly column. Contact him at

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