Social Studies Video

‘An Empowering Effect': How Studying Black History in Prison Changed This Educator’s Life

By Jaclyn Borowski — February 23, 2023 4:17
'An Empowering Effect': How Studying Black History in Prison Changed This Educator’s Life

As part of his annual Black History Month partnership with Education Week Opinion, guest editor LaGarrett J. King conducted interviews with educators to learn more about their love of Black history, to better understand how they came to enjoy learning about the subject, and to inspire others looking to deepen their own education on the topic. This is the second interview in a three-part series.

While serving a 30-year sentence for a nonviolent drug crime, Mataka Askari, now a community educator and mentor for high school students, discovered The Autobiography of Malcolm X. After a tough upbringing in St. Louis, Askari’s experience reading the book introduced him to someone with whom he could identify and look up to as a role model. From there, he read hundreds of books, pursuing a similar course of study as Malcolm X while also discovering his own insatiable appetite for knowledge.

Here, he discusses that journey and how it brought him to a place of greater understanding and appreciation of Black history.

Jaclyn Borowski is the director of photography and videography for Education Week.
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Coverage of race, opportunity, and equity is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.


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