top of page


In 1997, the Griots’ Circle of Maryland, Inc. an affiliate of the National Association of Black Storytellers, (NABS) organized and implemented a youth component known as the Growing Griots. The intent of this group was to develop “African Oral Tradition” Youth Tellers. The original Growing Griots were children of Griots’ Circle of Maryland and National Association of Black Storytellers adult members. The youngsters shared in the African Oral Traditional locally, statewide, and nationally. Their first national performance was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1999.

Other notable performances were rendered locally at the Walters Art Gallery and the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum; statewide at the Maryland Library Association Conference in Ocean City and at the Wicomico Public Library in Salisbury Md. Nationally, the Growing Griots have performed at multiple Annual Festival and Conference of the National Association of Black Storytellers. In fact, at the 2004 Festival and Conference in New Orleans, (the year before hurricane Katrina), the “Outstanding Youth Group Achievement Award” was presented to the Growing Griots of Maryland.

By 2007, however, most of the group members of the Growing Griots were graduating from high school and entering college. It was at this juncture that the Co-Directors, S. Bunjo Butler and Mama Deborah Pierce-Fakunle, decided to put a different structure around the program. Because they knew and understood that in the 21st century, what continues to be an undisputed truth is – many urban public education systems around the country have not been effective in educating and preparing African American children. They understood that schools on all levels, especially on the primary levels, fail to present the kinds of programs and experiences that maximize African American children’s ability to learn to read, write, do basic math, to listen, to follow directions, speak in public, and to think critically.


A truth that is hidden deep in this scenario is the fact that most of these youngsters are innately very quick minded, creative, sensitive, eager, and able to learn individuals whose natural God given potentials are never realized because they are not in learning environments that allow them to grow educationally, culturally, spiritually, socially, and emotionally. What constitutes a positive learning environment for African American children? “It is an environment that recognizes their strengths, abilities, and their culture; and incorporates the same into the learning process so that African American children can achieve competency and confidence in mastering the tools / skills they need to survive in this society and to be able to contribute to its creative development.” (Hale-Benson 1982)


The positive learning for African American youth philosophy is the motivating force behind the creation of the Growing Griots Literacy Learning Program. (GGLLP) 


Currently, student’s 6th through 11th grades participates in a program consisting of (3) three (6) six-week sessions beginning in October and ending in May that includes (1) one Cultural Program between each session. The program is  

being held in the Walbrook Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Successful completion of the (3) three sessions would earn the student 45 Service-Learning Hours towards graduation from High School. (Each (6) week session earns a student 15 Service- Learning Hours) 


Community / Partners:

  • Enoch Pratt Free Library

  • The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum

  • DiscoverME/RecoverME

  • Chesapeake Employers' Insurance Company 

bottom of page