Hidden Figure: Shekinah Galloway
Crystal: Who is Shekinah Galloway?
Skekinah: I am a mother of five, one girl and four boys. I am the youngest of five, with my brother being the oldest and the only boy. I have a background in accounting, business and computer science. I am a product of a single-parent home.
Crystal: Why did you become a literacy advocate?
Skekinah: I became a literacy advocate because I remember being as young as five, going to school with one of those names no one could pronounce nor spell correctly. My teacher would embarrass me by yelling that I was either pronouncing my name incorrectly are spelling it incorrectly. Fast-forward years later, I have the same issue with my daughter. I named her Shakeshey’a (Sha-Key-She-Ya). People said she’ll never learn her name and asked why would you do that child like that? I went on a mission to ensure she knew it and then some. By 18 months she knew colors, sight words, could spell purple, etc. Over the years, I have noticed the dropout rates and I wanted to, not only reverse that, but to exceed what was considered excellence for children.
Crystal: What are the ages of the children you mentor?
Skekinah: 4 and up
Crystal: Do you have any advice for parents of young readers?
Skekinah: I sure do, #1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. #2. Get down on the floor with your child and allow them to enjoy their age. #3. Make those goofy noises and faces. Make the book come alive! Allow their mind to explode with imagination and creativity. #4. Let them see you reading! Take time out to read one of your favorite authors or if you don’t have one check out some of our AAALAC authors’ books. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Crystal: How many children in your community lack access to books?
Skekinah: I would say 75 to 80% of our children lack the ability to obtain books.
Crystal: Tell the audience about your organization, AAALAC (African American Author Literacy Awareness Campaign).
Skekinah: I am extremely proud of this campaign. It has become its own entity. It was started when we were looking for books by our facilitators that came to volunteer for our Summer Enrichment Institute. During all this, my business partner, Angela, authored three books. We have found so many authors that are amazing, but no one knows about them. We tour the US and abroad with the mission to showcase African-American authors, bring those books to the forefront, and promote literacy. It’s all inclusive. We highlight African-Americans, but we welcome all authors, genres, ages, and walks of life! We are also compiling two books: one for women who have overcome any obstacle and one for youth.
Crystal: What’s been your most memorable moment during the AAALAC tour?
Skekinah: Our mentor, Dr. Ruben West, and our advisor, Ms. Nancy Smith Mattox, came all the way to South Carolina to meet us and take us under their wings. I still get teary eyed because I know only God did it.
Crystal: Tell the audience about your networking group, Pushing Grace.
Skekinah: Pushing Grace is our baby that started it all. It was created to be a united foundation where individuals who need help becoming a nonprofit. We have abstinence training, child abuse prevention, community involvement, educational enrichment, entrepreneurship, social and spiritual development. We also have parenting classes. The list goes on, but our mission is to build strong and healthy families. We want to heal the whole family holistically.
Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?
Skekinah: I did not. I am so proud! Those are the things we promote “Research history don’t recite it”. Which simply means don’t only learn and relearn about the African-Americans that are always talked about. There are some that even we missed, but I am honored to now know and the attention the movie has gotten.
Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?
Skekinah: Gwen “Coach Gwen” Cunningham. She is not aware of this status because we have the same internationally known mentor, Dr. Ruben West. Her presence alone empowers me.
Crystal: What is your favorite quote?
Skekinah: ” Speak those things that are not as though they were”
Crystal: What is your favorite book?
Skekinah: You’re going to think I’m crazy, but it is the Bible. I have the Bible experience and it is so amazing. I honestly experience it differently and more amazingly every time I listen to it.
Crystal: What is the last book you read?
Skekinah: I am trying to go through our library to read all the books that we are receiving for the African-American Museum! I am reading my mentors’ book, Destination Mastery: Seven steps to in extraordinary life.
Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?
Skekinah: Find a reason to smile every single day and thank God for that day. He created all of this just for you! If you were the only one, he still would have done everything again as well as died for you. OUR FATHER LOVES YOU, BEYOND YOU!