We must know our past
to build our future.
Sandhills Family Heritage Association (SFHA) strives to improve the quality of life for underserved communities in the Sandhills region of North Carolina through economic self-sufficiency, protection of land and livelihoods, preservation of African American cultural heritage and promotion of health and wellness.
Sandhills Family Heritage Association carries out its mission through our programs of H.O.P.E.:
Preservation of Land
SFHA is a volunteer-driven, community-based organization that provides the table around which people gather to work toward common goals.
SFHA has more than 100 non-voting members who pay a small annual membership fee.
SFHA programs include Sankofa Youth, Friends of SFHA, Know2Grow, HealthWise, The Promised Land and the Youth Farmers Apprentice Project.
SFHA holds an Annual Sankofa Festival and an Annual Heritage Tasting Festival.
SFHA Outreach programs include food distributions following weather disasters and other crises.
SFHA partners with community and government organizations to carry out our mission and make a difference in our communities
Accepted Gift of the Civic Center Building and charge to renovate and reopen this important community resource.
Launched Historic Civic Center Renovation Project
Continuing decades of work in the community to carry out our mission and to engage with our neighbors where they are.
The concept of “Sankofa” is derived from the Akan people of West Africa.
“Sankofa” is expressed in the Akan language as “se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki.” Literally translated, this means “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.
"Sankofa” teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.
"Visually and symbolically, “Sankofa” is expressed as a mythic bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth. This ties with our motto: “In order to understand our present and ensure our future, we must know our past.”
University of Springfield, Illinois - African-American Studies
Ammie McRae Jenkins
Ammie Jenkins is a community leader and social entrepreneur. While her work is local, Jenkins has gained wide recognition for her approach to community development, using shared history as the foundation for building consensus and working on issues important to families and to the African-American community.
Impacted by the loss of her family farm in 1954, Jenkins believes strongly in the importance of preserving and protecting land for future generations.
In 1962, Jenkins, the great-granddaughter of a former slave, was the first African-American student admitted to High Point University in NC.
In 1970, armed with many unanswered questions about her own family history and loss of land, Jenkins began genealogical research to understand her family's experience and how it mirrored that of other African-Americans.
Following many "round-table research sessions," Jenkins and other community members resolved to continue and expand their efforts to preserve and share the history of African-Americans in the Sandhills Region of North Carolina.
In 2001, at 60 years of age, Jenkins founded the Sandhills Family Heritage Association to address the issues of loss of land and livelihoods, and cultural heritage.
Jenkins chose the Sankofa Bird as the SFHA logo to encourage communities to research, collect, preserve and share their history to understand the past and inform future -
In 2008, Jenkins was nominated and selected as one of 55 Purpose Prize Fellows, a program of Civic Ventures. CLICK HERE to learn about the Purpose Prize and how Jenkins' work as a social innovator earned her a place among the 1,200 nominees.
Jenkins served as Executive Director of SFHA for nearly 20 years and retired in 2014. However, Jenkins returned in 2017 to lead the organization to increased stability and to spearhead efforts to renovate the Historic Civic Center Building.
The City of High Point recognized Ammie Jenkins on its Facebook page during the 2019 Black History Month.
CLICK HERE to see Ammie Jenkins speak about SFHA, land preservation and her passion for understanding the past:
Click the links below to learn more about our stories and our work.
Organization Helps Preserve African-American Family Land
Purpose Prize: Ammie Jenkins, 2007
Ammie Jenkins: Where the Cool Waters Run in Her Memory
News & Observer 2008
Ammie McRae Jenkins: NC Heritage Calendar Honoree, April 2013
Resourceful Communities: Prioritizing Community Land Preservation 2013
Coady Institute: Citizen-Led Sustainable Change Innovations in North American Community Development forum 2013
Case Study: Sandhills Family Heritage Association - Community Asset Mapping
Looking Back to Move Forward: The Story of the Sandhills Family Heritage Association (Canadian CED Network 2014)
Poke Salad and Pine Tea, David Cecelski 2017 (Originally appeared Cecelski's NC Folklife Institute blog, 2008)
IUCN World Conservation Congress, Hawaii, 2016
Sandhills Family Heritage Association: Practicing the Art of Culture-Based Philanthropy
In "Healing From the Land," Ammie Jenkins collects stories and recipes from community elders about their medicinal and curative use of plants and herbs. Support SFHA efforts to reprint this wonderful little piece of Sandhills history.
Reaching back to reclaim and preserve