News Release

The Amos C. Brown Fellowship to Ghana Concludes

Students say it was a life-changing cultural encounter

Several of the 43 students who took part in the first Amos C. Brown Fellowship to Ghana called it a life-changing cultural and genealogical encounter.

“As an African American, I think coming back to visit the place where your roots are located is very important,” said Jade Dodd-Shojgreen of the 10-day trip. “I’m glad I got to see this experience and really see where the start of being an African American came from. The experience with the slave dungeon [on August 7] at Cape Coast is something I’ll hold onto for a while. To me, it symbolizes the beginning of who I am.”

The fellowship — a collaboration between the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was designed to help American students of various backgrounds experience Ghanaian culture, learn about their ancestral heritage and become ambassadors of racial harmony.

“I had a deeply visceral reaction to [the slave dungeon],” added Sabrina Carver-Tchagna, whose mother is from Cameroon. “It helped me to see [the African slave trade] from a different perspective and how that impacted society, not only in America but also in Ghana.”

Carver-Tchagna said she’s intrigued by the idea of becoming a global ambassador who connects countries and cultures.

“I’m 20 years old. There’s a lot of life I have left to live and a lot of things I can explore and grow from,” she said.

Hatim Mansori of San Francisco relished time to help paint the 250-student Nyame Bekyere Christian School on August 4. It was an opportunity for service and cultural exchange.

“There was music playing. I was showing them some [Bay Area dance moves] and some little kids there were looking up to me, copying my exact moves. And I was doing their dances too,” Mansori said. “It was nothing but pure joy.”

“We are so happy and excited [they painted our school],” said the school’s headmistress, Matha Eghan. “We would like them to come more often to assist us and to help us. We have a lot that we need.”

Mansori said he wants the friendships made with fellows and Church leaders to continue beyond this trip.

“I feel like I’ve made lifetime connections, lifetime friendships, and I feel like a lot of people here are just really cool, friendly people,” Mansori said.

Fellows complete a service project at Nayame Bekyre School in Accra, Ghana, on Thursday, August 4, 2022. They painted the exteriors of the primary and secondary classrooms. 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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David Dunn, an architecture student, embraced the opportunity to leave behind the familiar and the comfortable to talk about difficult issues and experience a new culture.

Dunn said he’s “going to look at society a lot differently” now, including the “systems we have in the United States — how do those treat people of different backgrounds and ethnicities? How do we function as a society? As an architecture student, we study everything from economics to color scheme. You have to know everything about a society. You have to know a lot about culture. You have to know a lot about how systems work on a micro and macro level. And this trip has really helped me broaden my perspective on that.”

The fellowship’s 43 students come from colleges and universities throughout the United States. They were accompanied by leaders from the NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ. NAACP leaders included President Derrick Johnson and the fellowship’s namesake, the renowned civil rights leader and NAACP board member the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco. From the Church were Elders Jack N. Gerard and Matthew S. Holland of the Seventy, along with their wives, as well as the Africa West Area Presidency.

The Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown leads student fellows and support staff in greeting the elders at the Slave River site at Assin Manso on Sunday, August 7, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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President Johnson encouraged the Black fellowship students to “embrace the wholeness of who you are [and] appreciate all of your cultural experiences as you learn about new [ones]. Embrace your ancestors and all that they had to go through and endure to bring us here to this moment.”

Student D’Angelo Perez said the fellowship planted seeds of mutual understanding and unity that will yield fruit in the future.

“There’s a lot of barriers that have been built throughout the centuries that have prevented people from truly understanding each other,” Perez said. “This trip won’t do it in just these 10 days that we’re here. But I think it will help us in creating that mutual understanding.”

Elder Gerard said the Church of Jesus Christ is fortunate to benefit from the Rev. Dr. Brown’s vision to “bring us all together to learn of those horrific acts against humanity and to make sure those never happen again.” Elder Gerard said the Rev. Dr. Brown helps us “model civility in our modern culture, in our modern society today. Today too many secular issues tend to divide us.”

Looking back on the experience in Ghana, the Rev. Dr. Brown said the value of the fellowship created in his name is right there in the word “fellowship.”

“Unfortunately, humankind have made out of this world — God’s world — a battlefield and not a fellowship,” he said. “Dr. Martin Luther King, my teacher and mentor, said there will never be a fellowship until all the fellows are in the ship.”

The NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ “have come together to say, ‘time out for nonsense. Time out for incivility. Time out for inhumanity.’ For we’re all brothers and sisters,” he said.

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