After coming to Temple and noticing a divide between students and local residents, Andrew Ankamah Jr. felt he had to take action to help “bridge the gap” between the communities.
“Even at the end of last semester, I walked past a block and there was people’s trash from students moving out and I’m like ‘This is not how we should be taking care of our community,’” said Ankamah, a senior political science major and director and founder of The Accountability Initiative. “I think the problem is we don’t see it, well I don’t want to generalize, but some people don’t see it as their community.”
Ankamah decided to establish TAI, dedicated to cultivating activism and community service, at Temple on Jan. 9, the organization’s first official chapter. The group’s first action was a protest against gun violence after the fatal shooting of Samuel Collington, a senior political science major in 2021. After the protest, the organization, which was founded in Ankamah’s home state of New Jersey in 2020, continued to grow and Ankamah worked to solidify the official Temple chapter.
In the Spring, the organization hopes to host community service events, like college information fairs at local high schools. TAI also wants to pursue projects, like the #100StoriesCampaign, that aims to highlight community members’ experiences with gun violence. The campaign would include a series of interviews with local residents who have dealt with gun violence to raise awareness of the issue within North Philadelphia.
“We’re looking to, at the end of the semester, hopefully bring those 100 stories to the city leadership and university leadership to, you know, to push to push the need for change,” Ankamah said.
After creating a constitution, forming an executive board and signing on 10 members, Ankamah submitted and received approval from Student Activities on an application to start an official chapter at Temple.
Sierra Kamara, a senior political science major and president of TAI, wanted to change the relationship between Temple and the North Philadelphia community after working with Philadelphia political leaders at an internship in Harrisburg.
“Just talking to them about the different issues like gun violence, education, housing insecurity, food insecurity and having this feeling that I wanted to make a change on campus,” Kamara said.
Kamara wanted to be more involved with the community and joined TAI after meeting Ankamah at a town hall meeting with a local community leader about the gun violence prevalent in North Philadelphia. She enjoyed small group conversations with the intention of creating change.
“I feel like joining that conversation is what really sparked our professional relationship with working together and bringing his organization, The Accountability Initiative, from his hometown in North Brunswick, New Jersey, to Temple University,” Kamara said.
Zoë Singleton, a senior chemistry major, joined TAI because she has always wanted to participate in social activism but was unsure where to start.
“I’ve always felt that activism was important, but I didn’t really know how to go about that, so seeing like that another student put this type of organization together, it felt like something I wanted to do,” Singleton said.
Singleton believes TAI is an important organization because she thinks it can help students and faculty hold themselves accountable for their responses to situations that occur on and around campus.
Ankamah looks forward to the continued growth of the organization and hopes for TAI to become a place for any student interested in activism.
“I want this organization to be a place where those individuals are able to build themselves as student activists, and also a place where if there’s a problem in the community, you go to The Accountability Initiative and we will, we’re going to do what has to be done,” Ankamah said.
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