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A Rose for Africa

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

“A man that has not prepared his child for his own death has failed as a father.” - T’Chaka (Black Panther Movie)

If rooted, a mother’s love can carry her children far beyond the perceptual realm of possibilities, releasing them from inhibitions and empowering them to create lanes of thought and action where none exist. In ideal circumstances, a parent’s role is to prepare their young to navigate the world on their own terms, implanting a collection of tools they can strategically pull from when needed. Those parents intentionally partner and commit to building a foundation of standards, values, and morals that their offspring embody. Nicole R. Richards, founder of Rose Pan Africa, has taken the seeds her parents have planted and has founded an international sanctuary for black people of the diaspora to expand, commune, and explore.

Raised by her parents, professional educators, Roger Richards and Rose Merrell, Ph.D., Afro-centricity, education, and freedom through international educational experiences were primary values held by Nicole's family. At the age of 10, Nicole joined her father for her first cross continent trip to Kenya, which was followed with a trip to Egypt. There, she made a friend who impressed upon her the desire to be multilingual and to lean into her love of cultural versatility.

Over the next couple decades, Nicole began venturing, studying art, culture, literature, and African American existence and immersing herself in Egyptian (Kemetic) theology, language, jazz, dance, and much more. She attained her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, received a master’s degree in African American Studies from Columbia University, and has been completing her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California. During her world travels, Nicole met her husband, fell passionately in love, got married, moved to Senegal, and purchased a beautiful estate, where they are currently raising their young son.

In August of 2020, Nicole’s family faced her mother’s fight against pancreatic cancer. As they prepared for her transition, Nicole felt her mission had become clear. All that she gained through her studies, the feelings, the inspiration, the desire, the passion coalesced, invigorating her awakening of what she was supposed to do. To honor her mother's legacy, Nicole promised Rose that she would erect a school as a melodic ode to their lovely life together. It would be named after her, Rose Pan Africa. When Rose declared, "that's a start..." Nicole realized her mission was much bigger than founding a school. Her mother wished more for her. Upon Rose’s passing, it became precisely clear. Nicole had an international assignment.

Over the next year, Nicole began working through how she could expand her mission of connecting black people of the diaspora. She wasted no time embarking on her divine mission. She and her husband endeavored to convert their estate into a multi-purpose bed and breakfast and school, Rose Pan Africa (RPA). She then set her plan in motion, scouting for resources to bring her vision to fruition.

Nicole decided that 2022 would be the year she went all in. In early 2022, working through her organization, Rose Pan Africa partnered with S. Jones Books and Education (SJBE) to strategically create reality from her vision. The Global Black Summer Institute (GBSI), a culturally immersive workshop engaging college-aged students in gender, art, African culture, African-American, and literary studies, was born!

In summer of 2022, RPA successfully launched its first installation of programming, starting with the GBSI. Additionally, RPA hosted a fourteen day mental health workshop for educators and mental health practitioners, and will be hosting a ten-day writers’ workshop in November, 2022. RPA is looking to host workshops quarterly.

Nicole is embodying her promise to her mother. She is navigating her way onto the national stage of global, Pan-African education and connection platforms. We, at S. Jones Books and Education, are honored to have had the opportunity to connect with this queen at the onset of her reign! We look forward to seeing much more from this woman on the move! For more information, please be sure to check out her website here.

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