The Sankofa Camping Club of Michigan (Sankofa) was established in August, 1997 at the 5th Annual National African American Recreational Vehicle Association, (NAARVA), camp out rally, held at Buena Vista Camping Park in New Jersey. At this rally, 82 Michigan RV’ers agreed to join NAARVA as a chartered group and name their club the Sankofa Camping Club of Michigan.
“Looking Back–Always–Moving Forward”
The name Sankofa was suggested by Charter member Melvin Hooten who explained that the word “Sankofa”. was the name of a mythical African bird. The bird was unique because when walking forward, it was also looking backward. Doing so, the Sankofa bird was always remembering its history so as not to make the same mistakes in the future. Thus, “Looking Back-Always-Moving Forward” became the club’s logo tag line as a reminder, in that hind sight is always the future’s 20/20 vision.
The following members were chosen as the Charter officers of the Club:
President – Al Robinson Vice President – William Lassiter
Secretary – Dinah Davenport Treasurer – Charles Powell
Returning to Detroit the officers met at the home of Lamar and Dinah Davenport to put together the Club’s organization and structure. They reviewed the club logo concept and suggested graphic design of the Sankofa Bird, created by William Lassiter. The decision was also made to use First Independence National Bank, an African-American full service bank, as the clubs bank.
Sankofa’s officers wanted the first Club Rally to be held the second weekend of June. The purpose of the June rally would be to inform the membership of the NAARVA Annual National Camp Out Governing Agenda and appoint delegates to represent Sankofa. These delegates would assist with decisions regarding issues proposed at the NAARVA Annual Camp Rally and report back to the club.
The June rally would also provide an opportunity to return something to the club members each year. Lastly, it was determined that any additional camp outings would occur when members wanted to get together and camp. In June, 1998, Sankofa held its’ first annual camp outing as an organized group at Port Huron KOA in Kimball, Michigan. At the first camp outing the membership chose its Club colors of deep red, green, black and khaki beige. The members also approved Bill Lassiter’s design of the Sankofa Bird, and approved it for use as the Club logo. An embroidery company was selected to produce tee shirts, caps, and other club merchandise using the Sankofa Bird design.
In August, 1998, Sankofa became the 4th Chartered Chapter of the National African American Recreational Vehicles Association or NAARVA. It immediately became the largest camping Club in NAARVA’s Northern Region.
Sankofa’s goals and objectives have always been to follow the Sankofa Code of Ethics; to further the development and purposes of NAARVA by to telling other RVers about NAARVA. A nationwide RVing organization that offers African-Americans the opportunity to form lasting friendships throughout the United States.
Sankofa will always “look back”, by remembering its history and the charter members who laid the foundation. It will insure its future by introducing the Sankofa children, grandchildren and younger friends to the experiences of the RV lifestyle. Because of its strong foundation, dedicated leaders, and committed club members, the organization has endured for 20 years, 19 of those years as Charter Chapter #4 of NAARVA.
We look forward to many, many more years of camping with each other, and with other NAARVA members, to always remember Sankofa’s history and its initial purposes, goals and objectives– “looking back, and always moving forward”. Let us not forget the past, which led us to our present, and is definitely the backbone of our future.
Historical Facts provided by Charles Powell, Charter Member & 2nd President, Edited by Connie Wilson, 3rd President, April, 2008, updated November, 2016.