With a desire to keep improving every issue, the Nehemiah Project team incorporated much of the feedback on the first edition of “Sankofa” magazine as they worked on the second magazine, published last month.
“We have had a lot of positive comments about this new magazine – our holiday issue – especially that we included a lot more pictures and color,” said Nehemiah Project spokeswoman Rebecca Spence.
While the content of articles is new, Spence said the goal of the publication will always be to support “a community linked together moving forward,” as the magazine cover’s motto says.
The first “Sankofa” magazine, published early this year, was originally envisioned as a one-time project in honor of Black History Month.
Spence said so much history was made in 2020 – from the international shutdown of society and business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to the death of civil rights icon John Lewis, the death of :Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman, the election of Kamala Harris as the first female and first African American to be vice president of the United States – that it inspired her to want to memorialize those events for posterity.
The promise of what a united community can accomplish, while drawing inspiration from its past, became the underlying theme for the “Sankofa” magazine.
The word Sankofa comes from a language of Ghana, Africa, and means “go back and get it,” referencing the need to learn from the past to move toward the future.
Not only did the first publication receive a strong positive response, but many encouraged Spence to continue it as a periodical. The plan then became to publish the magazine twice a year.
Discussions among Nehemiah Project members led to the inclusion of articles about matters that have laid the foundation for strong and healthy African American communities: faith, family education, health, and finances.
“We always want to include a faith article because we can’t be successful at anythini if we don’t have faith as the foundation of everything,” Spence said. “If we try to do anything on our own without the Lord in it, we won’t be as successful as He would want us to be.”
Rising to the top in their careers as graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Vice President Harris and Boseman helped to shine a spotlight on these institutions that have always produced more Black professionals than majority-white colleges and universities.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to HBCUs by MacKenzie Scott from her accumulated Amazon wealth has also shone a positive light on these institutions, so it seemed only fitting that the magazine’s education focus include them as well.
“We have great HBCUs in Mississippi and in our nearby communities that our local high school graduates can access, so we want them and their parents to know more about these schools, their history and culture,” Spence said.
The approaching holidays include meals as the center of most family gatherings, so helping people understand they can enjoy their favorite foods, and even indulge in desserts and other special treats, is possible to do if they think ahead and have a plan.
And with her own background in banking, Spence noted that not only was it important to include in this holiday issue information about managing one’s finances to build wealth, but also to help people with practical advice about budgeting and rational spending during the holidays.
“You educate yourself to move forward so you make your life better,” she said. I want to make the information we provide simple so everybody can understand it. If our magazine continues to put that information out there, if it helps one person, one family, we have been successful.”
Publishing the first magazine was supported solely by financial donations, but the second edition included paid ads along with support from donations. Going forward, the magazine will continue to be free to the public, and the Nehemiah Project team will continue working to solicit more ads and donations to support publication.
“I see articles that pop up on my computer with information that we need, but it says you have to subscribe to get it,” Spence said. “We don’t want to charge for this, to make people’s lives better. That doesn’t seem like the Christian thing to do.”