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Jawanza Kunjufu And The Science Of Teaching Black Boys: What Works And What’s Wrong

Jawanza Kunjufu And The Science Of Teaching Black Boys: What Works And What’s Wrong

Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu (Photo: Facebook)

Young Black boys still find themselves placed in special education disproportionately. Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu has spent his career fighting against the miseducation of young Black boys. He has been able to pinpoint what works and what’s wrong with the U.S. education system when it comes to addressing the needs of young Black boys.

Kunjufu is the founder and president of African American Images, a Chicago-based publishing company that sponsors dozens of workshops intended to help educators and parents develop practical solutions to the problems of child-rearing in American society. Kunjufu holds advanced degrees in business and economics.

He was born on June 15, 1953, in Chicago. In 1973, he adopted the Swahili name Kunjufu. He attended Illinois State University at Normal and received a bachelor of science degree in economics in 1974. In 1984, he finished a doctorate in business administration at Union Graduate School.

In 1980 Kunjufu founded African American Images. It was the birth of his two sons, Shikamana and Walker, that led to his focus on the contradictions inherent in Back education and especially in the education of young Black males.

In 1982 he wrote and published the book “Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys,” probably Kunjufu’s best-known book. In it, he explores alternatives to the frequent failure of Black males in school and beyond.


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Kunjufu later wrote 1984’s “Developing Positive Self-Images and Discipline for Black Children” and the book “Motivating Black Youth to Work” in 1986.

In the late 1980s, Kunjufu he was the executive producer of a full-length motion picture, “Up Against the Wall.” Kunjufu told the Chicago Tribune, “I wanted a movie that could take a Black boy through positive and negative peer pressure and see if he could survive…and be a responsible young man.”

Black children are disproportionately classified by schools as having educational disabilities. In 2016, 12 percent of Black children received services at school for disabilities ranging from emotional disturbances to physical disabilities to intellectual impairment. Only 8.5 percent of white children received those services, according to the Hechinger Report, a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on education. 

Kunjufu created the blueprint for educating Black children and remains one of the most insightful and progressive.

“Dr. Kunjufu’s central argument in all of his work declares school systems lack the personnel and cultural understanding needed to educate black males. Their teachers don’t look like them, and the curriculum doesn’t celebrate their differences,” educator Solomon Hillfleet wrote in Medium.

Because schools don’t understand how to engage Black boys, they recommend them for special education until they drop out.

“We know that students learn differently,” Kunjufu wrote in 2011. “We do not make the adjustments in our pedagogy, curricula, lesson plans, and classroom management.”

Placing Black boys in special education has long-lasting ramifications, for the students and society. I

“The disparity in the number of Black males on college campuses and their ability to earn degrees is inevitable if we start losing Black boys [in the educational system] as early as the fourth-grade.,” said Kunjufu, who in his 2012 book “A Reflection: There Is Nothing Wrong with Black Students” he addressed the teacher population and its lack of diversity.

“Since 1954, with the landmark civil rights decision of Brown v. Board of Education, there has been a 66 percent decline in the number of African American educators.” He continued: “Presently, African American students represent 16 percent of the student body, but only 7 percent of school staff are African Americans, with Black male teachers representing merely one percent of staff.”

Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu (Photo: Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=539416404850434&set=a.539416381517103)