After a series of setbacks and delays, noted Pan-Afrikan psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson has set a date for when he says his school for Black boys will “finally” open.
The Frederick Douglass Marcus Garvey (FDMG) Academy, located in Wilmington, Delaware, has been a work in progress for several years now and has become the subject of unfounded accusations that Johnson had been soliciting and accepting donations to help renovate the school building without any intentions of ever opening it.
Now, Johnson is attempting to prove his naysayers wrong in a series of Instagram posts touting FDMG and listing several events scheduled to take place in the weeks leading up to when he said the school will open in time to start the 2024-25 school year.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Johnson listed dates for the start of student orientation, a trip for students as well as the “1st Day of School.”
Earlier that same day, Johnson also took to Instagram to post an apparent photo of the FDMG building and told donors they “will be honored, whether random or regular, when we finally open the Honorable Marcus Garvey Elementary School of the FDMG Academy.”
The post’s photo carried the message, “process almost complete,” accompanied by the hashtag, “DRUMARSCHOOL4BOYS.”
According to Johnson, FDMG is scheduled to open for its first day of school Sept. 3, 2024, a date he referred to as the start of an “intellectual insurrection.”
In 2021 during an interview on The Breakfast Club morning radio show, Johnson gave a “bittersweet” update about the state of FDMG, claiming that it could be “up and running” soon if it received the necessary help in the areas of HVAC, plumbing and electric work. At the time, Johnson said FDMG “can be ready in three weeks” if it got the necessary work needed on a pro bono (read: free) basis.
Johnson suggested Black people needed to step up to help FDMG.
“I haven’t come across Black folks who are willing to donate their time … so we have to raise enough money to pay market rate for those repairs.”
He estimated he needed to raise about $300,000 in additional funding for work.
“If we had some Black folks who were willing to donate their time, the school would be up and running in three weeks,” repeated Johnson, who said this type of issue is unique to Black people and chalked it up to being “one of the psychological residuals of slavery.”
“If I were Mexican, the school would be done,” Johnson said. “It’s only because it’s us,” he added, referring collectively to Black people, “that we don’t take something like this (education) as serious.”
When pressed if this is really just a Black thing, Johnson didn’t shy away from that argument.
“It’s not that Black people don’t support other Black people. We are not used to being responsible for building our own institutions,” Johnson reasoned before offering an example: “If I was opening up a nightclub, basketball league, I would have the support.”
Johnson said he couldn’t reconcile that with the fact that Black consumers account for spending $2 trillion annually.
He cited “slavery” as the primary factor that he said stripped Black people of a “natural desire to want to control your environment and your destiny. Citing “ethnic nationals” who come to America, Johnson said, “the first thing they do is look for where are we going to build our first community.”
Black folks, on the other hand, don’t do that, he said.
“Our whole orientation towards life is different from other groups as a result of slavery,” Johnson added.
Johnson also specifically called about Black consumers when asked about his school during an Instagram Live session in 2020. Claiming Black people spend $19 million annually specifically Quaker Oats grits, Johnson asked his followers, “can I have your grit money for one year?” Give me your grit money for one year and I will build 10 schools across this country.”
He continued: “I don’t want your Louis bag money, I don’t want your Mercedes money, I don’t want your weave, perm, haircut, Air Jordan, Timberland money — give me your grits!” he implored before getting to the heart of his point: “We spent $19 million on grits and I don’t have enough money to renovate the Garvey building.”
Black Enterprise reported in 2014 that Johnson launched an initiative to fund an all-Black boys school. At the time, Johnson said he was gaming to raise $5 million to buy “St. Paul’s College, an HBCU in Lawrenceville, Virginia, and convert it into a boarding school for young African American boys.”
Five years later, Johnson announced in a video that he had finally raised the funds to buy property in Wilmington, Delaware, to house the FCMG Academy.
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