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Kwame Nkrumah
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

In January of 1950, Kwame Nkrumah sat in a dark and dirty jail cell in Accra, Ghana. His cell was inside Fort James prison, a place where only one hundred years before, slaves were held before being sent to the Americas. It was a place filled with untold sorrow, where the walls seemed to echo with voices from its dark history.

Nkrumah had been sentenced to three years in prison for helping to organize protests again the government. He had been fighting to free his west African country of Ghana from British control. The British had ruled Ghana for nearly a century. Nkrumah believed that his people had the right to rule themselves.

Nkrumah ran for president of Ghana from inside his prison cell in Fort James. The British did not allow him to work on his campaign. Instead, he smuggled notes to his friends and supporters on pieces of toilet paper. Nkrumah won the presidency from inside that tiny cell. He was released in 1951 to the roar of cheering crowds.

In 1953, Nkrumah made a speech in which he said, “Action without thought is empty. Thought without action is blind.” Nkrumah lived by those words. He was both a thinker and a man of action. He risked his life for his country, and in doing so, earned the right to lead it in the eyes of his people. As president, he inspired the people of Ghana to continue to fight for freedom across all of Africa. That is why to this day, he is remembered as a hero in Ghana and across the continent of Africa.


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