TAMPA, Fla. — Brenda Allen says for two weeks straight, she kept waking up at 2 a.m. 

What You Need To Know

  • Brenda Allen is creating a mobile classroom from a former school bus 

  • She wants the bus to be the forum to teach Black history 

  • Allen is retrofitting the bus to create an interactive learning environment

  • She plans to drive the bus to different venues in Tampa, where she'll deliver the lessosn

Finally, she says it became clear what the problem gnawing at her was that was leading to her sleepless nights.

“Our people are starving and dying from a lack of knowledge,” Allen said. “I must feed the people, feed the people that are starving.”

Allen, who moved to Tampa a few years ago from Los Angeles, said she talked to so many people who said they were not learning about Black history in school.

“They’re not getting the information,” Allen said. “On our Black history, African American history and our ancient history.”

Allen decided to do something about it: She bought a bus.

(Photo courtesy: Brenda Allen)

The yellow bus she found had been used to transport kids to school in Clermont, Fla. But Allen had a different idea: she was going to turn the bus into a mobile classroom.

“It’ll be so amazing. When it travels the street, people will wonder ‘What is that? What’s going on with that vehicle?’” Allen said.

She calls it the Ma’at Sankofa African Learning Temple. ‘Ma’at’ stands for ‘truth; ’ ‘Sankofa’ means ‘go back and get it.’

Her idea of retrieving Black history involves wrapping the outside of the bus in a façade of Queen Hatshepsut, a pharaoh from Ancient Egypt. Inside, she’s envisioning a museum of pyramids and hieroglyphics on the walls of the bus. Children can learn on laptops aboard the bus or check out a library in the back.

She’s currently raising enough money to begin retrofitting the bus. That will involve taking the seats out of the bus, then creating the mobile classroom on-board.

Eventually, she hopes to take the bus around Tampa Bay teaching lessons to kids about Black history.

“Bringing our history, our knowledge, our culture, our heritage around the world,” Allen said. “That is the long-term view for Ma’at Sankofa African Learning Temple.”

(Photo courtesy: Brenda Allen)