A tireless advocate who was deeply committed to the education of the children of Oakland, educator Nabeehah Sabree Shakir passed away on March 14. She was 67.
Born Corliss Marie Scott Jan. 17,1948 to David and Viola Scott, she later embraced Islam and adopted the name Nabeehah, meaning “intelligent.”
Sister Nabeehah, as she was commonly known, dedicated her life to education. She earned her bachelor’s of science degree in 1970 from California State University in Hayward and an elementary teaching credential from UC Berkeley in 1971.
She received a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from CSU Hayward in 1998.
Shakir’s worked at Sister Clara Mohammed Schools, as well as schools in Ghana and Sudan. But most of her work was for the Oakland Unified School District.
Besides teaching pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade students in English and language arts, she designed and coordinated programs and was also an administrator.
From 1994 to 1999, Shakir designed and implemented Oakland Unified’s Standard English Proficiency (SEP) Program and was program manager of the district’s Taskforce on the Education of African American Children.
Shakir found herself in the national spotlight when the school district’s SEP program, dedicated to teaching English to African American students, became embroiled the media firestorm, the so-called Ebonics controversy.
She testified at a congressional hearing on the matter, struggling to overcome what many viewed as a mountain of misrepresentation and ignorance about the education of African American children.
After the dust settled one of several books that eventually set the record straight was written by Lisa Delpit, “The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language and the Education of African American Children.”
Shakir was an active member of the Oakland Alliance of Black Educators. She also co-founded an educational consultant firm, Culture Intervention Strategies, which she led until her untimely passing and educating African American children.”
“She was the most sincere person. She gave her time and love to her family, Muslim community and educating African American children,” said Naeemah Sabree, Shakir’s daughter.
Shakir is survived by her three children: Naeemah, Hakim II, and Dawud Sabree; and11 grandchildren: Raeesah, Surayyah, Ibrahim, Khalil and Waqia Bukhari, Qadirriya Muhammad, Sakeynah, Ali-David and Suhaylah Abdullah, Elijah Blacksher and Zuri Zubree.