Our Mentor, Our Inspiration, Aminah Jahi
Aminah A. Jahi was born in Lafayette, Louisiana on November 4, 1947. She was born under the birth name of Sandra A. Dugas. She was the oldest of seven children, four sisters, and two brothers. Aminah’s early years growing up were in the state of Louisiana with her grandparents. Her grandparents owned a local Juke Joint (Night Club) it was there where she learned to love dancing to all types of music. Her favorite music was the Blues. During her childhood years, Aminah was fluent in French and English. She was then reunited with her mother who was a single parent at the time. Her family moved to Port Arthur, TX, for a few years. They later moved to Houston, TX in the early 1960’s. During the summer of 1963, Aminah’s family moved from Houston, TX to Galveston, TX and she started school in Galveston.
While attending Central High School in Galveston, TX, Aminah met her high school sweetheart Haymon Gilbert in the 10th grade. Both Haymon and Aminah lived and grew up in the city projects known as Cedar Terrace located on 33rd & H Street. Aminah was a fun loving person, who love to tell jokes and dance. She was always the center of attention in a group setting. She was never afraid to speak up or ask questions. Aminah’s family believed in supporting each other and her mother always provided a place for the family to stay in their home. Aminah always had a passion for helping other families who live in the projects like her family.
Aminah’s family moved and lived in different areas of the South. She witness segregation first hand. She wanted to make a difference in the world as she grew older. On May 27, 1966, Aminah graduated from Central High School and was accepted into Prairie View A & M University majoring in Sociology and minored in Secondary Education. She attended Prairie View for two years and in August of 1968, she married her High School sweetheart Haymon Gilbert (Jahi). She started her new family life and career working in social services at Galveston Texas Community College.
In 1969 Aminah gave birth to her first child, Monique H. Jahi, also in the same year, her husband Haymon was drafted into the United States Army. While living and working in Galveston for three years waiting for her husband to return home from the Army Aminah decided to continue her education. She enrolled at Galveston College to pursue an Associate Degree in Social Services. In 1972 her husband returned home from the Army and relocated the family to Houston, TX. from 1972 to 1976. During this time, Aminah worked for the State of Texas, as a Social Worker in Houston. In 1976 her husband accepted a job in Oak Grove, Pennsylvania and moved the family there for two years. Aminah was accustom to moving around from state to state and city to city, this was an experience she had during her younger years living in the South.
In 1978 Haymon and Aminah moved to San Jose, Ca. and purchase their first home. She and Haymon decided San Jose would be their permanent place of residence. In 1979 she gave birth to their second child, Haymon A. Jahi Jr. and became a stay at home mom. She started participating in community service work with the aid of Mrs. Inez C. Jackson at the African American Community Service Organization. Bored with being at home, Aminah accepted employment with the San Jose Evergreen School District on September 5, 1979. While working at Evergreen, she enrolled into Evergreen Valley Community College and was awarded another Associate Degree in Liberal Arts on December 23, 1982. During the year of 1982, Aminah and her family decided to change their family name from Gilbert to Jahi. Aminah continued working with the Evergreen School District until June 30, 1988. On July 1, 1988, she became the Administrative Assistant for the Martin Luther King Jr. San Jose Christian Academy unit December 30, 1988.
Aminah’s life passion was volunteering, connecting with her community and serving others. She leaves a legacy of love, compassion and serving others throughout the lives she touched. Aminah was a visionary for community organizations. In 1989 she reached one of her primary objectives. She was hired as the Executive Director of the African American Community Services Agency (AACSA). In this position, she interacted very well with her diverse staff and clientele with a high degree of professionalism and personal integrity. She recruited people from community-based backgrounds through volunteerism and work experience.
Aminah and her staff pulled the San Jose African American Juneteenth Festival under the control of AACSA in 1993. She worked for the Service Agency until 1994. The County of Santa Clara Department of Social Service in San Jose, Ca. offered her a Social Worker position in 1994 and she moved back into the Social Work field, leaving the AACSA. This position was Aminah’s passion, assisting families with completing and the submitting of application to obtain funding for rental deposits and payments. She conducted drug testing for clients and scheduled supervised home visits. Aminah worked for the County of Santa Clara until 2000, also during this time at Santa Clara she opened her own African American Book Store, “Jahi Books & Things “from 1999 to 2001.
In 1996 Aminah was voted in as the San Jose, Ca. President of the NAACP, she held this office until 2000. Her primary responsibility was maintaining community-wide access to options for the prevention, investigation, and resolution of complaints of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991, as amended. She assisted in the coordination of the legal defense of multi-diverse individuals filing complaints under Title VII Act when other options had been exhausted.
In the year 2000, Aminah became the Founder of the Positive Action to School Suspension Program. Her program acquired contracts with school districts for the first two years. The Program enrolled students from K-12 grade. One year after her program started, data showed that 92% of the students attending her program did not repeat suspension. In addition, 85% of the students attending the program 15 or more days increased their academic skill level. Aminah’s program produced the first Parent Survival Handbook. Her program ended in 2005 because the Santa Clara County or San Jose School District cut the budget, which funded her program.
For the next three years, Aminah continued to work and volunteer in the San Jose Community. From 2006 to 2008, she was President of Garden City Women Social Club, in San Jose, Ca. Also, in the same year, she became ill and was hospitalized for three months. After being released from Kaiser Permanente Hospital she decided to move back to Houston, Texas. She spent the later years of her life around her immediate family. After moving back to Texas in 2009 she started a new job with WorkForce 2000 and started volunteering at Shape Community Center, where she had been a volunteer worker in the prior years from 1974 to 1976. Throughout her life, Aminah loved giving back to her community through service.
Her honors include the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Santa Clara –“Good Neighbor Award” in 2000. The NAACP Award San Jose Brach from 1996-2000. The Award of Excellence for Dedication to the African American Community in 1993. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Eta Sigma Lambda –Award Aminah A. Jahi for Volunteer Services rendered to the 42nd Western Regional Convention April 15, 1990. The Frank Sypert Afro-American Community Service Agency award Aminah A. Jahi for Dedicated Service as Board Member – 1988. The Super Volunteer Service Award from the A.A.C.C and numerous other awards from the San Jose community and organizations.
On August 25, 2017, Aminah A. Jahi passed away at her home in Houston, Texas surrounded by her loving husband, children, and family members. Aminah dedicated her life to family, helping others, participating in and supporting community services projects while being a voice for her community.
AWARDS RECEIVED BY AMINAH A. JAHI
1 – The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Santa Clara – “Good Neighbor Award” January 17, 2000.
2– NAACP Award San Jose Branch – To Aminah A. Jahi – Branch President – 1996 - 2000.
3 - Award of Excellence for Dedication to the African American Community – 1993
4 – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Eta Sigma Lambda –Award Aminah A. Jahi for Volunteer Services render to the 42nd Western Regional Convention April 15, 1990.
5 – Frank Sypert Afro-American Community Service Agency award Aminah A. Jahi for Dedicated Service as Board Member – 1988.
6 – Super Volunteer Service Presented by the A.A.C.C.
7 – Evergreen Little League Team Mom T- Ball, the Blue Jays – 1987
8 – Outstanding Service & Dedication to Students Evergreen Valley College Presented by Assoc. Students 1986 -1987
9 – The Board of Supervisors of the County of Santa Clara Present Certificate to Aminah A. Jahi for her services to keep a “Hate Free Community”.
10 – For Inspirational Courage and Leadership – A BAYMEC HERO WE HONOR – Aminah A. Jahi
11 – In Sisterhood We Trust – Aminah A. Jahi – The Evergreen Valley College, Black Faculty Happy Retirement – 1988.
12 – CAHRO – California Association of Human Relations Organization – Present this 1999 Civil Rights Leadership Award for Promoting Civil Rights to Aminah A. Jahi.
13 – In Appreciation for Outstanding Service on 1984 Black College Information Day to Aminah A. Jahi form the E.O.P.S. Program.
14 – Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. XI ZETA ZETA Chapter, Presents Outstanding Community Service Award to Aminah A. Jahi march 21, 1999.2