During the height of the pandemic, U.S. Census Bureau data showed a fivefold increase in Black households homeschooling, and many have not returned to traditional schools once they reopened. What the data does not show, however, is why so many Black families made the switch.
Three reasons motivated Didakeje Griffin, a mom of two children in Birmingham, Alabama: she wanted her children to be safe from bullies, to learn their cultural heritage, and to experience freedom.
“I want to first have time to cultivate my children’s African-American culture, their Nigerian history and heritage before anyone tries to tell them who they are,” Griffin told the NPR affiliate in Birmingham. “So really, COVID, it was the catalyst, but our children’s cultural identity was the reason that we kept going.”
To gain the support she needed to keep going, Griffin joined the Black Homeschoolers of Birmingham, a group co-founded in 2018 by local homeschooling moms Yalonda Chandler and Jennifer Duckworth. The group offers several programs, like a virtual debate club (Batman versus Superman was a recent topic), P.E., and music. Mostly, though, the group focuses on connecting families with each other and offering encouragement, guidance, and access to information.
With connections made through the group, families regularly gather at field trips and other in-person opportunities for their children to come together.
“Sometimes, with homeschoolers, they’re used to going it alone,” says Chandler, co-founder of Black Homeschoolers of Birmingham. “We’ve been taking more steps to create more safe spaces for engagement with students and parents to learn, play, and grow.”
The group has grown from two families to more than 95 families in just four years. Now, Black Homeschoolers of Birmingham is holding annual summits, including a recent gathering in partnership with HSLDA.