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If an elite, Ivy League Harvard education couldn’t prevent a Black woman from being disrespected, berated, and belittled to become appointed to the highest court of this land, what does this say about the true value of this world’s education?

As we closed out Women’s History Month in March and acknowledged the accomplishments and struggles of women everywhere, our leadership role in education cannot be ignored. 

From public scrutiny to milestones to setbacks recently seen in the media, it appears being highly accomplished, highly educated and successful has not exempted us from being—as some believe—the most educated but most disrespected women in the world.

As it relates to education, we’ve always achieved and continue to reach great heights, but there are still great challenges that education and educators face. As discrepancies and inequities in employment for women persists through our contributions to leadership, participation and guidance from God, education can be redefined. 

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Several years ago, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan presented a lecture, now studied as a part of our “Self-Improvement: The Basis For Community Developement” Study Guides. He declared a “New Paradigm for Education for the 21st Century” with a solution and guide for true education in a changing world. During the lecture the Minister quoted alarming statistics on the deficiencies in American education that are even more disturbing today. 

(L-R) Sherrie Muhammad, founder and director of Asiatic Minds online learning school., Angel Clark-Clayton, Benton Harbor Public School Board Trustee., Audrey Muhammad, founder of Mothers of Civilization Day.

“Education is the torchlight of civilization,’’ he said. When we look at the problems in society and the problems in education, it is demonstrative of the fact that this education and the idea that undergirds it, has reached its end. And as the torchlight of this nation is going out, that fact is reflected in the culture—the degeneracy of the culture,” he said. 

In the current public educational system, former Benton Harbor, Michigan school principal and current executive director for transportation, Angel Clark-Crayton, knows the ups and downs in education as she strives to continue to make a positive impact in leadership as a newly elected School Board of Education member.  

“A wise person once said, ‘Education is a journey, not a destination,” she said. “In fact, I believe education is not meant to prepare a student for an upcoming test or quiz; rather, education prepares one for life and its many challenges. Over the last decade, public schools have faced many challenges that have resulted in a decrease in enrollment, low academic performance, and school closures,” she said.

As a board member, Mrs. Clark-Clayton has worked with the board to help eliminate deficits, start literacy initiatives and teacher training/recruitment programs. “In an effort to be the change I wish to see in my community, I decided to re-join education as a school board member with a personal commitment to focus on the development of aptitude, attitude and ambition of all students,” she said. 

Educator and publisher of Virtue magazine, Audrey Muhammad is aware of this dissipation and offers light to her classroom and the world after creating a new holiday honoring Black and Indigenous women titled, “Women of Civilization Day.” It is celebrated every November 24th. 

Different from Mother’s Day, this holiday recognized on the National Day Archives records honors the original Black and Indigenous women who gave birth to humanity.

“It’s a wonderful history lesson,” she said.  When students ask who is the Mother of Civilization, it is an opportunity to honor women of diverse cultures and traditions to learn the true origin of us all,” she added.  

“It bears witness to the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, ‘Who is the Original man?’ And it’s tied into educating people,” she said.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “When you teach a man, you teach an individual. When you teach a woman, you teach a nation.”

Sherrie Muhammad, founder and director of Asiatic Minds, is doing her part with her online school program based in Lexington, Kentucky. She started as an educator with a degree in communications; then, after making the progressive decision to homeschool her five children, she decided to come up with a solution to offer God-centered education to anyone willing to receive it. 

Asiatic Minds strives to make education centered around God and self while also bringing excitement into the classroom utilizing tools such as music, arts and modern technology. 

“Almost every day my eyes fill with tears when I see the students engaged,” she said. “I’m so grateful to see that they are taking pride in their instruction.” Sherrie Muhammad has students enrolled from Las Vegas and parts of California, Texas and Florida.  

“I thank Allah (God) so much for using me to provide something that my children didn’t have. We had to homeschool because we are in a small city. We didn’t have enough children here where we could create a brick and mortar, so by the Grace of Allah, He blessed me with the right idea and I thank Allah for choosing me,” she said.

Women have a long history of being the foundation of education. But as of late, with the disrespect of teachers, including low salaries, little support, and other challenges, inner city classrooms don’t reflect the students being taught properly.

Celebrations honoring and highlighting education must also be the focus as women and men strive to attain the desired results in a changing society. But as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan says, “without education and the right and proper education, no human being can fulfill his or her destiny.”—Abisayo Muhammad  

Abisayo Muhammad, a former Final Call staffer, is an entrepreneur, a mother and first lady of Benton Harbor, Mich. Sister Space is devoted to amplifying the voices of women as well as telling their stories and highlighting their accomplishments. We welcome your ideas and submissions. Please send any material to [email protected]