Ibidun Sundiata (308244)

On September 6, 1946 Dorothy Banks was born to Allen and Jessie Banks, a farmer and school teacher in Granville Oxford, North Carolina. She was the 11th of 12 brothers and sisters. As a young child, Dorothy was smart, inquisitive and known to be a Daddy’s girl. As she entered grade school, she often shied away from others because of her speech impediment and was afraid to speak in public. With the support of her older siblings and mother, Dorothy worked on overcoming this challenge and her voice would become one of her greatest strengths later in life.

In the 1950s, Jessie relocated with her younger children to New York to further her career as an educator. They settled and made roots in Brooklyn, N.Y. Dorothy continued her education and developed a love for writing. She attended Eastern District high school and during her teenage years noticed the many injustices faced by people of color. In 1963, Dorothy alongside her older brother Carlyle formed Bed-Stuy Youth in Action and from there her story began. In March 1964, Dorothy birthed her first born son whom she adored. He was her pride and joy and lovingly called PJ. In 1965, Dorothy married her husband and gave birth to her second son William Malcolm, whom she named after her husband and Malcolm X.

As a mother and wife, Dorothy aspired to be a part of something greater than herself. She dedicated her time and presence to the Black Liberation Movement at a very early age. In the early 1960s she took her place as an activist and soon thereafter, only answered to the name Ibidun Sundiata. She established herself as a Civil Rights activist and community leader. Being involved in her community, monitoring education, economics, and the rearing of the younger generations. It was here where they asserted the school system was not effective for children of color. In 1969, Ibidun was a key advocate in organizing and developing local community school boards and promoting parent input into the school curriculum in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Community. Ibidun and others relieved 19 teachers and taught in Brooklyn schools for 36 days before teachers returned to the classrooms.

On March 29, 1969, Ibidun was present at New Bethel Baptist Church with members of RNA (Republic of New Afrika) when tragedy struck the church. She recently returned to Detroit for the 50th anniversary of this tragic event. Ibidun was the editor and later Minister of Information for RNA where she published “The New Afrika” monthly. She was also a consulting editor and departmental secretary for C.O.R.E (Congress for Racial Equality). On March 30, 1973, Ibidun and members of the RNA were in Mississippi where she was a workshop leader at the Pan African Skills Center. In March 1975, Ibidun gave birth to her first daughter who would carry the name Bibi Ibidun. In 1979, Ibidun accepted a job at Community League Management where she became a certified 7-A administrator and local superintendent. By 1980, she and lifelong friend Al Bass founded BNIA (Brooklyn Neighborhood Improvement Association). In June 1984 she gave birth to twin baby girls Bahiyjah and Bashiyra. Soon after their birth in September 1984, she with her twin daughters were featured on the television show “Like It Is” with Gil Noble.

With all of her accomplishments, this did not come without hard times. In the mid 1980s Ibidun lost her way and by 1996 made a decision to be better for herself and her children. She prayed to GOD and asked, “Lord please don’t let me die like this” and he answered her call. She worked hard for her sobriety and rebuilding her life. Ibidun reconnected with her family, the movement and went on to become a substance abuse counselor at Daytop Village while receiving other state certifications. She worked with Sonny Carson and many others for the Committee to Honor Black Heroes, and Supported Black Veterans for Social Justice. In 2005, she received her bachelor degree of arts at the College of New Rochelle, inspiring her twin girls who then went to do that same in 2008 and 2009. Throughout the years until current, she channeled her energy into the youth and community especially those on her beloved Chauncey Street who referred to her as Momma D, Miss D and Gma. She served as a Mother of Christ at Gideon Outreach Ministries for 13 years, and continued to be present in the movement and for those in need. Her most recent endeavor was Read Out Loud Summer Pop Up with NYS Assembly Woman Stephanie Zinerman. Her personality was commanding, fun, loving and inviting. Dorothy lived a full selfless life and was a phenomenal woman.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her siblings Odia Byrd, Glennie Best, Luerena Pierce, Mary Banks, Ida Bell-High, Jessie Mae Curtle, Andrew Anderson Banks, Richard Anderson Banks, George Banks, Allen Banks and Charlie Banks.

Dorothy also loved as Ibidun leaves to cherish her loving memories, son Leander Yarrell III (PJ/Kwanzaa), daughters Bibi Ogburn-Suares (Bibop), Bahiyah Morrow-Rogers and Bashiyra Morrow. Her son William Malcolm Morrow (Red love) preceded her in death. She is also survived by her brother Carlyle and his wife Joyce Banks, son-in-laws David Rogers and Kevin Suares, 20 grandchildren and a host of great grandchildren with two on the way, nieces, nephews, great nieces/nephews and friends.

“I’m grateful, thankful and blessed to be a part of this family, your life is my life and my life is your life. We compliment each other. We will always have part of each other in our hearts and in our spirits and hopefully in our works.” —Ma

“A Luta Continua—The Struggle Continues”