"Rites of Passage Programs help African American girls direct their energies toward positive goals for their life.

In the African tradition, the youth must ask for the RITE (right) or permission OF PASSAGE (passing on) to a higher level of human social and educational development..
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Activities for girls

Activities for adults

Many of our children are in emergency and are trying to survive in a hostile environment. The Rites of Passage young initiates move forward to their next level of maturity and life skill competencies through the passing on of knowledge and tradition by trained, certified Elders from the community. The ritual of the Final Ceremony is very important as it celebrates the young girls’ accomplishments in the presence of the entire 'Village.'" - Emily Diane Gunter

Girls: Go forward but go with the understanding that you are part of a community that has eyes that acknowledge you and arms and support you. The Rites of Passage Ceremony is a celebration of womanhood. Go forward but understand that womanhood is not just a celebration but the beginning of a new stage of consciousness and responsibility. It is work. It is discipline. It is family. It is community. It is purpose. It is you. Before your community you enter a larger family. You are a woman but you are not alone.

"My name is Corneta from Richmond, Virginia. (At the Rites of Passage group) we cut out pictures and decided how our future was going to be. I learned when somebody tries to hurt you don’t be afraid to do something about it. I learned to be nice. We learned to respect our elders and not to be rude. We learned African Dances and we dressed up in pretty African wraps. I would like to do it again because it’s a chance to get away from home, learn something new, and make new friends. I think Rites of Passage means to be careful to other people and not to be rude."

"Hi, I'm Anisia and I am 12 years old. In the Rites of Passage we learned about how to pick the right boys like if your boyfriend is beating on you don't be afraid to call the police or something and don't try to have sex all quick. Wait till you get married or something. And we also learned how not to put ourselves down and give our self confidence and if people try to put us down ignore them."

"I'm Charlan from Colombia Maryland, 14 years old. I learned self-control, to have more love toward my brothers and sisters and I learned to interact with people more. I see myself really successful. I think that in three years I’m going to graduate from high school. And then after that I’ll be in medical school and it depends on what you want to do, how long its going to be."

At the end of the ceremony the girls offer a commitment to them selves and their community in the form of an oath:

With sincere humbleness, gratitude, and love

I take this oath of loyalty, dedication, discipline, sacrifice, and achievement

To do all that I can, in the way that I can

To develop myself and my people

I accept my role given by my ancestors

I promise not only to help my people, but to teach them to help themselves

I recognize my family as the smallest example of our nation

and my parents as the authority of our house

I pledge to keep this oath of commitment for as long as the sunshines and the water flows.

Ashay Ashay Ashay

Note: There are a number of African American rites of passage for girls across the United States. These photographs are primarily from the African American Women on Tour program facilitated by Emily Diane Gunter and Phaebra M. Croft, which explores steps toward becoming more productive in our ever-changing world. Guided by principles of peace and joy, participants will leave with a deeper awareness of self, family, and community. Discussions include: choosing values and purpose; sexuality and responsibility; family-conflict resolution; eight principles of balance; goal setting and dream journals; African dance and movement to drums; African history; ceremonial wrap in African dress; talent sharing; and a rites of passage ceremony.

"I am because we are, and because I am, we are." (African Circular Philosophy)

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