Dr Delia Gillis has spent decades teaching African and African American history in the Midwest. As the founding director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Central Missouri, she introduced hundreds of students to the rich and comprehensive history of people of African descent. She was even the faculty director of the Missouri Africa Program (MAP) at the University of Ghana.
But by taking his passion for African history to the homeland was not enough. Dr Gillis wanted to present immersive cultural heritage directly to others.
On a whim, Dr Gillis decided to apply for a program in Tulsa that pays entrepreneurs to move to the city and start a business. Not expecting to be accepted to Tulsa Remote, she called it “divine intervention” when she received the good news and arrived in the summer of 2020 at the height of the George Floyd-inspired protests. She was surprised to find a welcoming environment with other like-minded people.
“In the Kansas City area my community, my village are educators, but in Tulsa it was ultimately black women entrepreneurs who were very welcoming and very helpful,” said Dr. Gillis. The Black Wall Street Times.
It was then that she realized that Tulsa had a favorable environment for entrepreneurship. Dr Gillis didn’t expect to be a business owner herself, but after encouragement from other members of the community, she decided to transfer her knowledge and passion into a travel group that takes tourists. to a major destination in the mother country: Accra, Ghana.
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“I spent a semester in Ghana before the pandemic. And it was just a life affirmation, ”said Dr Gillis.
The history teacher had traveled to other countries on the continent, “but it was something to be in Ghana and have this reconnection to your roots,” she added.
Notably, Ghana launched an initiative in 2019 to commemorate 400 years after the first enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to American shores. “” From Ghanayear of returnWas a historic spiritual journey that encouraged people of African descent across the global diaspora to venture into the country and embrace their cultural heritage.
Gillis, who took several groups to Ghana’s capital Accra, said the journey to the homeland is mentally healing and life changing for black people.
“I looked like everyone else. I did not stand out and I was not the only one. I didn’t have to break down a barrier or represent an entire group of people, and I just think all of our young people deserve this opportunity, ”said Dr Gillis. TheBWSTimes.
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On a mission to show people that Ghana is a place to visit, invest, work and even retire, Dr Gillis said its smooth launch over the summer has turned out to be bigger than expected. .
Fifteen people aged 18 in the early 1960s joined the inaugural tour of Ghana, and they came from six different states: Florida, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.
Describing the trip as an incredible two weeks, Dr Gillis said she took tourists to two of the most important “castles” or slave dungeons: Cape Coast and Elmina. The two international historic monuments receive tens of thousands of visitors a year. “Castles” were among the busiest slave trading posts for hundreds of years.
Olivia Davis is a student at the University of Tulsa. She studied in Ghana on a summer program after receiving a Frederick Douglass Summer Scholarship. She took a course on Twi, a popular language in Ghana, and a course on the Atlantic slave trade.
“I loved Ghana. I was constantly learning something new every day, which I think is one of the most important aspects of studying abroad, ”said Davis. The Black Wall Street Times by email.
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Davis said one of his favorite Ghanaian places was the Alley Bar in Osu.
“It has the perfect combination of great food, music and entertainment,” she said. “It is a very welcoming and peaceful country. Every young person, especially African Americans, should experience being in a country that looks beyond differences and welcomes you in spite of them.
Ultimately, Dr Gillis said travel was essential.
“Despite the trauma, it was necessary. There are so many affirming things. You know, when I see music and dance, and their connection to our fraternities and sororities in HBCUs, a big part of who we are as a culture, ”said Dr. Gillis.
While tourists will need to obtain a visa first and have sufficient funds for the trip, Dr Gillis called the experience “transformational.”
“I had people who didn’t want to go back to work after the trip,” she added.