"I wear the Kufi Hat a lot. One day a 6-year-old kid asked me 'Man, what's that your wearing on your head?' I explained to him what it was, he was like how can I get one?' I said well you gotta join the club, because when you wear this crown, this Kufi, you have to carry yourself with self-pride, self-dignity, and self-respect."
David Mohammed, a teacher on the Westside, launched The Kufi Club in May 2015.He started the club because something was missing within the African-American community, "The Kufi Club is filling a huge void in programming of African-American children when it comes to teaching them, thoroughly about their African and Black heritage."
The Kufi club operates under a model based on traditional African principles and morals, with the Kufi, or "crown" representing a successful understanding of that knowledge. With each lesson learned, participants receive a different color Kufi to represent their progression in the program.
This summer the Kufi Club found a more permanent home by repurposing an old grocery store, in Chicago's Roseland community, near the corner of 122nd and Michigan. The block is lined with other residents as well, including a barbershop and several clothing stores.
The rehab of the location took about 3 to 4 weeks, as construction workers transformed the space, removing shelves, installing laminate flooring, adding carpet and painting the walls ivory. Panels of red, black and green were also incorporated into the design to represent the African American Flag.
On August 26th, the grand opening of the new location brought in current club members, but it also caught the attention of many Roseland Community members. "We talked about some things that were going on in the community and got feedback from residents of the community, and they expressed their support," said Mr. Mohammed.
There are a few more updates in the works for the KUFI club's new home as they recruit their next cohort of youth. Programs and other events are expected to begin this month. The Kufi club is also a resource for adults. Parent engagement is a desired aspect of the club as their involvement also aids in their efforts to improve the community.
As Mohammed put it, "I saw this as an opportunity for me to acquire this place and establish a base in the Roseland community to grow and develop our programs and make a difference."
The generous donations from the Safe and Peaceful Communities program helped David and the Kufi Club provide a safe space for Southside children all summer long.