African-centered Rites of Passage & Education:

Culturally Responsive Social Emotional Learning

ISBN 978-0-96-6397222

Press Release

Table of Contents

Forward & Preface

What Others are Saying (Endorsements and Reviews)

African Centered Rites of Passage and Education (1996)

Coalition for African-centered Rites of Passage

About the author
Dr. Lathardus Goggins II

Additional Resources

Media Posts & Links

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School systems from across the United States have increasingly come under public scrutiny. Frustration with schools, especially the inner city districts, not adequately preparing youth to cross the bridge to the 21st century, has lead to debates about funding practices, teacher accountability, parental involvement and paradigm shifts. Also, concerns about the level of violence in schools, teen pregnancy, drugs, and other distractions have been apart of the public discussion on; How do we better educate our youth?

In African-centered Rites of Passage and Education, Dr. LathardusGoggins II makes a compelling argument for African centered rites of passage as a factor for positive academic success. Dr. Goggins examines the relationship between socialization and the learning process. His analysis is drawn from an extensive literature review of noted scholars and narratives from people involved in the rites process.

Dr. Goggins frames his discussion with the following questions: 1.How is sense of self dealt within rites of passage, and specifically within African-centered Rites of Passage?; 2. What is the theory regarding the construction of self and its relationship to the educative experience?; 3. What are the operating assumptions about "educating" African Americans?; and 4. In what ways does the rites of passage process influence the educative experience? He answers each respectively in chapters 1. Rites of Passage, 2. Sense of Self and Education, 3. Schooling African Americans, and 4. Academic Implications of African-centered Rites of Passage. Dr. Goggins provides an in-depth discussion on the educative process, formation of purpose and discipline, and the tragedy of parental and community noninvolvement in educating African American students. He concludes that regardless of funding, teachers, and the latent values in the surrounding environment, African American students can obtain positive academic success.

This book provides a clear and thought provoking discussion about an effective solution to many of the basic problems facing African American students. African-centered Rites of Passage and Education is a must read for parents, educators, scholars, students, pastors and all who are concerned about the education of African American students.


Table of Contents

Forward & Preface

Why Afrikan-centered education In the school system?

We’ve known each other since 1996. A mutual acquaintance introduced us. Hondre Outley had started a Rites of Passage program at his church. I was formerly trained in Afrikan Rites and was a member of Akebulan Sharo, an Afrikan rites organization in Akron, Ohio. We worked together for roughly four years.
In 2009, I founded Nitsch Knight Warriors at my school. I started an after-school program for boys at my school. That same year, Dre wanted to get back to serving the community through Afrikan-centered Rites of Passage with boys from the inner city. Dre’s inspiration and motivation came from Black male murder rates, particularly an incident in Chicago of someone he knew. Dre called me and asked if I was willing to start back doing Rites. I said of course. When he came to see me, he said, “Bruh, I thought you were doing some little group; you are doing full fledge Rites,” Well, yeah, but it’s just me. Dre suggested, “Why don’t you come on and help me get your feet wet again, and we can flesh out what you are feeling and what God is asking you to do?” Well, we are 13 years and counting.

My commitment to “rites” work and organizing has grown from my being in the school system and teaching since 1996, particularly in inner-city schools and alternative schools, seeing that cultural relevance within the academic curriculum is non-existent. Moving to Houston and becoming a teacher, I saw the power of teaching Black and Brown students from a culturally relevant perspective helped them focus a lot more and remain interested in the subject of math, science, and social studies/history. Teaching at an all-male middle school where there were legit gang members actually paying attention was my catalyst for infusing cultural relevance within the core subjects because I saw “most” of them would ask questions and listen. When I told them that Pythagoras studied at Timbuktu university, he got an Afrikan math theory named after him. This did not make the students mad, but it made my students want to learn more. When I taught middle school math, I had students who would walk into class after their social studies class and ask me to teach the first 15 minutes about history, and I found that it would make them want to pay attention to math. This is why having a rites mentoring program is so important and why we felt we could start Mufasa’s Pride to be a counter to the euro-centric school system. 

I feel that once they left my session, from after school, going in the next day, they would be grounded and centered a little more. Unfortunately, the other teachers are not on the same page. Whether they are Black, Brown, or white, I found that most Brown/Hispanic teachers bring a little more relevance because they have bi-lingual classrooms that aid their cultural relevance. 

Having Afrikan Centered programs, like Mufasa’s Pride and Knight Warriors, aids in helping young Black and Brown students navigate the many daily situations that are not in the best interest of those demographic of students. We are a must in the school system because one difference between Mufasa’s Pride and Knight Warriors is that, although Mufasa’s Pride has shown up to support our enrolled young Simba in need, we are not on campus to deal with immediately. When I started Knight Warriors, we were on campus, and the Principal or classroom teacher would bring or call one of my young warriors to me, and the situation could be dealt with after school during a session. We could dive in directly.

Dr. Goggins’ book is a much-needed testament to help direct our Black and Brown students to reach their potential. What cultural relevance does it make the Black and Brown student a part of the lesson? They can actually see themselves as part of the learning process. I see myself in Imhotep, I see myself in Garret Morgan, etc. They will strive to improve when they see themselves in the lesson because they are not “Invisible.” Students will connect spiritually to the lesson, as well as intellectually and emotionally (SEL build-up). I know this because we visited Morehouse University on our first Black history summer trip. Within the first hour of the tour, J.S. asked Brother Hondre, “Do you think I could ever go here?” Dre responded without hesitation, “Yes, of course you can!” Not only two years later, he attended Morehouse, but he also received a full-ride scholarship, and he graduated and started his own business in Kansas City. Mufasa’s Pride’s impact has also had him pay it forward, with us sending three more in 3 years. J.S. spearheaded them receiving scholarships, another graduating, and another getting ready to graduate in 2024. We also sent three other boys to Howard University, and two had graduated.

This book should be a definitive training guide for teachers to build a project-based learning curriculum from an Afrikan-centered perspective. This book can be used to facilitate weekend or summer professional development training so teachers can know how to infuse cultural relevance within their lesson plans and develop a rubric for quality assurance. Dr. Goggins utilizes his expertise to help teachers adjust their teaching styles and to help them evolve into more empowered teachers by developing the tools to build their African-centered culturally responsive teaching strategies. This book is a must for the education of our Black and Brown students.

Cornelius Wright, Educator & Co-Founder
Mufasa’s Pride Rites of Passage, Inc.

Important Yesterday, Today, and Always

Dr. Lathardus Goggins ll is an author, an academic, and a brilliant mind who understands the complexities of educating black children in a space where we have continuous racial trauma happening in education. There is no doubt that his current work speaks to the importance of specifying Afrocentric learning for black children, especially today.

This text is extraordinarily important now after George Floyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Philano Castillo, Atatiana Jeffreys, Breonna Taylor, and numerous other black bodies have been murdered without any regard to how that impacts black children in public education. He literally gives educators a toolbox for dealing with black trauma in today’s society.

It is no coincidence that he is armed to do all of this because of his pedigree. Dr Goggins has always lived his life by telling the hard truths and making sure we are all very woke when it comes to educating black children. In doing so, he references John Dewey, Asa Hilliard, and others and frames their work in such a way that it brings forth their insights from the past into a new day, making sure that we understand it is just as important as it was yesterday.

Dr. Goggins’s additions to this text allow us to reimagine a world that could be. In a world where black children and their social emotional learning needs are essential, the tools to secure them are imperative in the pedagogy.

Through this text, we are reminded that these are not just best practices, but these are actually the techniques that could provide the very liberation our people need. His suggested African-centered rites of passage model is what our educators need to hone in on and definitely develop to support our students’ academic journeys. He also reminds us that the community as a whole is responsible for our students, their educational journey, and their connection to our intellectual and cultural legacy. That is why this book was important yesterday, and is important today, and will remain important always.

We are forever grateful for his work and perspective, as it helps to guide us in being successful educators that help to bring about liberation for all students.

Mia Street, M.Ed
Equity in Education Specialist 
NAACP Dallas Education Chair
Founder - Bridging the Achievement Gap Mentoring


African Centered Rites of Passage and Education was first published in 1996; originally, my master's thesis for Cultural Foundations of Education. African Centered Rites of Passage and Education sought to explore if there was a connection between education and rites of passage by examining the philosophical foundations that frame each concept, identify the common outcomes, and understand the implications of the practice.

In this reflection 25 years after the 1996 publication, I seek to update the implications in light of “new” research, evidence, and best educational practices. The first part of this book is simply a reprint of the 1996 publication (with outdated contact information removed and some edits).

The second part of this book is an update and expansion of the implications incorporating contemporary language and frameworks such as social emotional learning (SEL), positive behavioral intervention strategies (PBIS), culturally responsive teaching, trauma-informed, healing-centered engagement, and restorative practices.

It should be noted that this reflection is done in the era of the COVID pandemic. A pandemic that highlighted the educational disparities and the inequitable distribution of resources. Also, the pandemic revealed to many the fundamental need for wellness with large and specifically socialization, mental and behavioral health, routines, and nurturing relationships. Moreover, the last few years has been a time of racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd. As a result, many companies and institutions had made commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Shortly thereafter, the push back against diversity, equity, and inclusion organized and grew with “misinformation” campaigns against Critical Race Theory and Social Emotional Learning and the popularization and acceptance of “white replacement concepts.”
While over the years, there have been many laws and policies have passed to make education more equitable, fair, and good. The 2021-2022 academic year has revealed the schizophrenic nature of American education. An institution in a society that expels ideals of equality, freedom, and justice for all while its practice promotes, codifies and supports white supremacy. It has been said that racism/white supremacy is such a part of American society that protesting or resisting it is seen as unpatriotic. There is still a need to identify an authentic educational process, as opposed to schooling, that challenges and inspires people of African descent while providing an effective response to a hostile and toxic environment to the African self.

The American education system has been and generally continues to be (in essence) a colonial system. As such, it seeks to present history to privilege the occupiers and justify the oppression of the oppressed. Furthermore, a strong argument can be made that the American educational system has been and in many cases continues to engage in the seasoning process articulated by Kenneth Stampp in Peculiar Institution.

Twenty-five years after first being published, African Centered Rites of Passage and Education remains a “contemporary” call to action to rethink education by (1) understanding education’s function and purpose; (2) centering the human being in the educative process; (3) structuring the education process in such fashion that it facilitates both the teacher and the pupil to access cultural heritage; and (4) establishing clear expectations for the teacher and the pupil for accountability. Furthermore, the last 25 years have also confirmed for research and practice that the rites of passage process is the universal process for human development and the rites of passage model is the universal framework in the world that accommodates/connects meaning and purpose to the humanity of the individual. As it pertains to people of African descent, be it social emotional learning, restorative practices, healing-centered engagement, and/or positive behavioral intervention strategies, the African-centered rites of passage model is essential to ensure until the previous mentioned frameworks are authentic and effective; ensuring that they [SEL, Restorative Practices, Trauma-informed, PBIS] do not become as Dr. Dena Simmons warns, “white supremacy with a hug.”

The fundamental purpose of rites of passage is the development of the self that is aligned with the intent of the Creator. The fundamental purpose of a “good” authentic education must be/is the development of the self (the whole child). Therefore, given the rites of passage model, the teacher must be competent and committed to preparing the student for the student’s created purpose. Teachers must see themselves as guides across the gap of where a student is and their potential (i.e. the Zone Proximal Development); from the known to the not yet realized (i.e. acts of faith). Anyone not willing to occupy this sacred space is unworthy of being a teacher. Furthermore, only the person who can see “the yet to be seen authentic self” of the student qualifies a good teacher.

What framework (model and process) best facilitates an authentic education for the child/people of African descent (black folk)?— African-centered rites of passage.

Lathardus Goggins II, Ed.D.

Endorsements & Reviews


Dr. Goggins has done it again with a follow up to the acclaimed original. The title alone - African-centered Rites of Passage and Education: Culturally Responsive Social Emotional Learning is powerful…yet the sad truth is that African-centered, culturally-responsiveness and social emotional learning are all initiatives that in far too many school districts across the country are prohibited in their schools and classrooms. It is my hope that this book will get into the hands of all who need it toward ensuring that Black children are exposed to African-Centered Education, Culturally-Responsive Practices and Social Emotional Learning. I endorse this book with zero reservation or hesitation.
Principal Baruti Kafele
Retired Principal, Consultant, Author

Dr. Lathardus Goggins II has provided us with a road map to supporting our children through knowledge of self aligned with Social Emotional Learning.  His approach through The Rites of Passage is based on our ancestors roots. …Please take the time to read this.

Dr. Sandy D. Womack Jr. - Educator & Author Leadership Manual for Creating Successful Urban Schools

The practices in which you describe are very helpful envisioning how the principles can be put into practice… this is an important contribution to the field of African-centered Rites of Passage and Education.
Dr. Saliha Nelson, CEO - Urgent, Inc.

In a time when telling the truth of racial history is under siege, Dr. Goggins brings clarity to the importance of African ritual in rites of passage for youth and education. He does so by adroitly integrating the healing elements of the ritual to enhance our current understanding of the benefits of emotional regulation and self-control.
Dr. Howard C. Stevenson - University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Goggins’ African-Centered Rites of Passage & Education is an essential read that helps us contextualize education as a primary instrument for the process of human development. His framework and model centering the Black experience is the connective tissue between an authentic sense of self, culturally responsive education, and Social Emotional Learning, of which Dr. Goggins echoes Dr. Dena Simmons’s poignant reminder that SEL alone is “white supremacy with a hug.” Profoundly personal and important work from a transformational leader and relentless advocate for delivering a high-quality public education to ALL students. 
Cynthia Peeples - Founding Director Honesty for Ohio Education

This is a must read book for parents and educators who are interested in the academic development of students who are in the elementary school phrase of development. Dr. Goggins really hammers his message as it relates to fallacy of education here in America.
Rev. Edwin Baylock

Lathardus Goggins II is to be congratulated for advancing our understanding of the components of rites of passage and its value for African American children.

Dr. Janice E. Hale - Educator/Professor

Lathardus Goggins II contributes to the much needed research on the merits of rites of passage as a process for life cycle development.

Paul Hill Jr. - Founder of National Rites of Passage Institute

We must reclaim our youth from the Euro-American culture with Africentricity, rites of passage, and excellence — this book aids in that process.

Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu - Publisher, African American Images


African-Centered Rites of Passage and Education: Culturally Responsive Social Emotional Learning - Twenty-Fifth Year Anniversary Edition

African-centered Rites of Passage and Education was first published in 1996. At that time, I was amid my very first year as an educator, wondering if I had made the right decision. I was in a Title I School in Philadelphia in which the student body was 99% African American, 100% of which were receiving a sub-standard education. A few years prior, while still an undergraduate student at the University of Akron, I saw the movie “Lean on Me”, which was based on the way that Principal Joe Clark had supposedly reformed failing Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey. Now, in my first year in education, I felt that I had been dropped into Eastside High. Two points stood out for me from that film. One was when Morgan Freeman, in the role of Joe Clark, discussed the fact that the current education system is turning African-Americans into a permanent underclass and that the movie seemed to imply, if not explicitly state, that the answer to failing urban schools is to “expurgate” the least performing students, warn the remaining students that they could be next to be expurgated, and constantly intimidate the staff and students until everything improves. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I know is not it. This was just Hollywood’s version of how you motivate poor Black and Brown students in an urban school because movies and television programs have always been a major tool to advance the theory of White Supremacy. Despite the challenges of the school environment that I was in, I met some amazing young people, not the least of which was Andre Taylor, an eleventh-grade student who was mature, polite, articulate, and serious about his future. Andre would visit my office often just to talk. I eventually learned that he had completed an African-Centered Rites of Passage program during his sophomore year. This was my introduction to African-Centered Rites of Passage and how it can positively impact young men of African descent.

Fast-forward to the present day and Dr. Goggins has written the Twenty-Fifth Year Anniversary Special Edition of African-Centered Rites of Passage and Education: Culturally Responsive Social Emotional Learning. I can’t help but to reflect on societal changes that have taken place since 1996 and their impact on young men of African descent. These changes are too numerous for me to highlight all of them, but a couple changes stand out for me. Hip Hop Culture is now mainstream popular culture, which is an entirely separate discussion, and cell phone cameras and the internet have made it possible for everyone to see first-hand police interaction with unarmed African Americans that have resulted in the death of these citizens, no consequence for the police and a completely different interpretation of the events by different factions of American society. This has spawned its own movement and the inevitable attempted demonization of that movement.

It is within the current social and political climate that Dr. Goggins updates the implications of the original African-Centered Rites of Passage and Education, incorporating contemporary language and frameworks. This is a “must-read” for anyone considering a career in education, any current educator, and any parent. Ultimately, it’s a “must-read” for us all, because anyone truly interested in our entire society advancing should be interested in a framework that best facilitates an authentic education for children of African descent.

David E. Roberts, M.Ed. - Educator & Host of Full Circle Podcast


Over the last 25 years, Dr. Lathardus Goggins II’s staunch advocacy elevating Rites of Passage programming as a best practice for engaging Black youth has crystallized into African-centered Rites of Passage and Education: Culturally Responsive Social Emotional Learning, a much-needed manifesto for community practitioners.

Given the academic, social, and emotional challenges affecting Black youth, Dr. Goggins’ new book is an essential guide for Black youth, families, and communities. If we are serious about nation-building and addressing the traumatic experiences of Black youth, schools, non-profits, and other organizations should implement Dr. Goggins’ life-affirming new book as a strategy to reclaim our youth.

David Miller- Author of Dare To Be King: What If the Prince Lives?


The only way to destroy a culture is from within. George Orwell said: "The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history." African-centered Rites of Passage & Education by Dr Lathardus Goggins II is the first steps to repairing a culture that has been decimated by capitalistic principles and teachings. This books takes us back to our village roots where the elders led and you wasn't considered "grown" until they said so and not in a way that was demeaning but in a way that they were assured that you had all the knowledge and skills needed to move to the next phase of life and the wisdom to know that the village would always welcome you. If we really want to see a change in America, particularly for Black Americans we must get back to the Rites of Passage model that allows for us to rebuild our community from inside out. A community where each individual knows exactly who they are and where they come from, then and only then can create a road to a new future.

Rev. Ray Greene Jr Executive Director Freedom BLOC


African Centered Rites of Passage and Education (1996)

About the Author - Dr. Lathardus Goggins II / Titles by Dr. Lathardus Goggins II

Coalition for African-centered Rites of Passage

Additional Resources

Media Posts & Links