The Katie Sample Series

Left to right, Katie Sample, Mahmoud El-Kati, Dr. Josie Johnson, Dr. Yvette Jackson, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Dr. David Stovall, and Lauretta Dawolo Towns
Left to right, Katie Sample, Mahmoud El-Kati, Dr. Josie Johnson, Dr. Yvette Jackson, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Dr. David Stovall and Lauretta Dawolo Towns

About the Series

Over the course of three months in fall 2020, several units at the U of M in partnership with Sweet Potato Comfort Pie® will revive a tradition begun in 1988 by Community Elder Katie Sample: hosting conferences that introduce our community to great minds leading the way with excellence in education for Black children.

As one of the first Black social workers in the Minneapolis Public Schools, Katie realized that we needed to do more for Black children, starting with immersing them in their proud, yet unknown, history. She created the African American Academy for Accelerated Learning (pronounced Triple-A L), an after-school, community program to teach them the strength of their cultural history; assist parents and families in navigating the complexities of systemic barriers; and provide professional development for teachers who did not have access to a culturally specific curriculum. 

We continue to learn from her legacy, and Elder Katie Sample will again host conversations with thought leaders who are paving the way for success in educating Black children.

The sessions will be similar to the format used as part of the Academy and will provide an opportunity to share curriculum, tools, and strategies specific to Black history/culture, parent involvement, and mindfulness practices with Black children. Each of the three sessions will include reflective time for participants to move to smaller groups for deeper dialogues on their takeaways and reflections on “next steps” for effective action.

Guiding Quotation:

“Our children are seen as divine gifts of our creator. Our children, their families, and the social and physical environment must be nurtured together. They must be nurtured in a way that is appropriate for a spiritual people, whose aim is to build for eternity.'” —Asa G. Hilliard III, educator, psychologist, and Egyptologist

About Katie Sample

Katie Sample is a revered elder in our community whose enrichment programs and bi-annual conferences to spotlight successes in educating African American children raised the local bar on educational practices for all children. In 1968, right after Dr. Martin Luther King died, Katie began her work as one of the first African American social workers in the Minneapolis Public Schools. In the late ’80s, she completed visionary research on racial inequities in school discipline policies. As founder and executive director of the African American Academy for Accelerated Learning, Katie grounded African American children in their history, culture, and values through summer programs, parent education, education conferences, and international travel. Katie’s legacy of lifelong learning and sharing the strengths of her culture have sparked numerous projects to support youth, parents, and community engagement. In January, she received Sweet Potato Comfort Pie®’s first The Batter that Matters Award.

Series Sponsors

Presented by Sweet Potato Comfort Pie® and the University of Minnesota Department of History

University of Minnesota Co-hosts:

  • Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature
  • College of Liberal Arts Public Engagement
  • College of Liberal Arts Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Studies Initiative
  • The Liberal Arts Engagement Hub in the College of Liberal Arts
  • Umbra Search African American History
  • University of Minnesota College Readiness Consortium
  • University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study

Past Events