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Anthony Darnell Sparrow


Sunrise: July 5, 1965

Sunset: August 1, 2022

Anthony Darnell Sparrow, later known as Askia, the son of Robena Holley-Mangum and Elijah Holloman Jr., was born on July 5, 1965, in the city of Norfolk, Virginia. Throughout his childhood, Anthony spent most of his time playing basketball, football, and track for local youth sports teams and was one of the few Black children in his area to also play baseball. He was known for using his wit to outsmart the competition. His love, skill, and versatility in sports would become the launching pad for his ability to challenge himself and others, as well as his resilience and sense of pride in his community. He would go on to graduate from Norview Highschool in 1983.

Anthony began his collegiate years at the University of Houston, where he mentored and provided support to under-served and represented children. He later transferred to Norfolk State University. With the help of local civil rights activists, Anthony assisted in the reorganization and resurgence of the student chapter of the NAACP. As the chapter’s President, he led the charge to demand the University increase the curriculum surrounding the socio-cultural-economic development of African Americans and brought many programs and initiatives to the University surrounding cultural self-awareness. During his collegiate tenure, he was also a part of the Student Government Association, where he served as Senior Class President, and was initiated into the Pi Gamma chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. serving as the chapter Basileus. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology in 1990.

In response to the escalating crime, violence, racial injustices, and police brutality that ensued at the ’89 Greekfest and within the Hampton Roads community, Askia would go on to write many published articles, lead protests, and work with several organizations and dignitaries up-and-down the eastern seaboard, developing events and festivals to promote the economic empowerment of African Americans. A community leader and visionary was born.

In the course of his cultural and spiritual transition and effort to live the principles of Kujichagulia [self determination], Anthony decided to take on a name in harmony with his purpose and serve as a compass in directing his life. He chose the name Askia. He and several friends began to hold meetings with others in the community on how they could make an impact, which led to research of successful intervention and prevention programs that would be culturally relevant to their communities. It was found that the philosophy and practice of African socialization traditions of manhood development called “rites of passage” was the most proven cultural process of personal enhancement for young males and in December 1990 the M.T.U. (Manhood Through Uplift) Rites of Passage program was formally introduced to Hampton Roads. Initially run out of the oldest African American YMCA in the country, The Hunton YMCA, the program was the first rites of passage for adolescent males and manhood development training process for adults in Southside Hampton Roads, and the second in the state of Virginia. Due to community demand, the program had to be moved to Norfolk State University to accommodate participants.

In the coming years, he would take this program throughout the state of Virginia, Northeastern North Carolina, and other collegiate campuses such as James Madison University. M.T.U. was also known for its annual Kwanzaa programming. Shortly after, Womanhood Thru Uplift was introduced as a similar rites of passage program aimed at leading young women through various evolutionary stages of life. After making an impact on the African National Rites of Passage United Kollective (ANROPUK), Askia was able to bring their National convention to the city of Norfolk and in the next year was installed as their National Co-Chair. During this timeframe, he also served as the first President of the Imani Foundation. Due to his influence, he was asked to serve as a committee member for the local organizing committee, to assist in organizing over 50 buses, vans, and cars to participate in the Million Man March in 1995.

In the following years, he would also work with the Urban League of Hampton Roads in the creation of programming around cultural awareness and appreciation, the International Black Women’s Congress, in the evaluation and data analytics of HIV/AIDS information, and other organizations and initiatives such as The International Black Summit Network, The M.A.A.T program, Sisters Preserving the Kulture, Black Studies Movement, The Broad Creek Digital Community Advisory Board, and many more

Askia combined his love of technology and mentorship to direct a grant entitled “Techno-Scholars of Norfolk State University,” a technology-based mentorship program for Black male youth between the ages of 12 and 14.

Askia later returned to his love of sports, coaching the Fairlawn Tigers youth basketball team from 2001-2003 and went on to serve as the President of the Fairlawn Athletic Association from 2003-2014, while simultaneously coaching the Hampton Roads Greys baseball team and serving as the Hampton Roads Commissioner for the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League-VA. In reward for his outstanding community service in the Hampton Roads area, Askia was honored by the Norfolk Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. during their Annual May Week celebration.

Outside of all his community endeavors, he worked as an Information Technology Analyst for over 20 years and used this same skill set to assist many minority-owned businesses and organizations through his consulting company, Sparrow and Associates.

Askia was predeceased by his parents, Robena and Elijah, as well as his Grand- Parents Emmitt and Lillie Pearl Holley.

He leaves to cherish his memory, his beloved wife Valrose “Joy” Mills-Sparrow of 28 years; his children Nicole Jernigan, Lamar Gilchrist, Arkia Brown, Imani Steven, ZiJazo Smith, Jelani Sparrow, and Malik Sparrow. Grandchildren, I’zayah Law-Jernigan, Kamille Gilchrist, and Kylah Gilchrist; Siblings, David Sparrow, William Sparrow (Messheila), Yvonne Fife, Andre Jones (Joyce), Virginia Dozier (Ronnie), Timothy Holloman, and Tremaine Holloman (Lisa); and a host of nieces and nephews.

There are simply not enough words to describe the man we lost: Husband. Father. Grandfather. Brother. Vanguard. Servant. While we will all make our transition to the ancestral realm, the impact we make determines our legacy. Though he is gone physically, Askia’s impact while he was with us lives forever.

Viewing Tuesday, August 9, 2022 2:00pm - 6:00pm Metropolitan Funeral Service 120 W. Berkley Avenue Norfolk, VA 23523 Omega Ceremony Tuesday, August 9, 2022 5:00 PM Metropolitan Funeral Service Berkley Chapel Service COME IN PERSON OR WATCH SERVICE LIVE ONLINE Wednesday, 10, 2022 11:00am Metropolitan Funeral Service Berkley Chapel Interment Woodlawn Memorial Gardens 6329 E Virginia Beach Blvd. Norfolk, VA 23502

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Condolences(12)

  1. reply
    Shannon Hills says

    I attended the University of Houston with Sparrow. He smile, personality and laughter were infectious and light up the room. For the longest I didn’t know his first name because he exclusively referred to himself as Sparrow. His light will be missed.

  2. reply
    Calivn White says

    Anthony Sparrow I know him for years he was a smart loving caring person well respected in the neighborhood. I will never forget the day Dave brought you over to my parents house and we had dinner together we laughed and joke talk about the old memories that memory will always stay with me love you brother

  3. reply
    Brandon Davis says

    I was a part of the African American Male Academy at James Madison University from summers 1998 to 2001. I knew him as “Babba Askia”. He was integral to my development as a man and as a Black man here in America. I’m grateful for the lessons he taught me and his leadership. His leadership and wisdom has contributed to where I am now in life. My condolences to the Sparrow family. We lost a Black diamond. Rest In Power Babba Askia.

    – Brandon Davis

  4. reply
    Dessadra Lomax says

    For a period of time I thought we’d change the world…and maybe we affected it a bit. The mid 90s were a time. We put in a lot of miles on those HBCU road trips. Rest in heaven brother, you have put in work!

    Peace,
    Dessadra and Tandu-La

  5. reply
    Mia Meschell-Johnson says

    I attended NSU with Sparrow circa 1986. He was influential in my introduction and walk with Black Consciousness. He will be sorely missed. I am not surprised by the impact and impression he made on our communities. May he Rest in Power.

    Mia Meschell-Johnson.

  6. reply
    Shelton K Muhammad says

    May Allah be pleased with our brother. I attended NSU with brother. I knew him as a fighter and warrior for black people. I loved our brother

  7. reply
    Diana F. Chappell says

    Sending love and heart felt sympathy to Joy, and each of the children. Those of us who have lost loved ones know and share your pain because Askia was special – he was sweet, gentle, kind, loving, intelligent, humble, honest, giving, motivated, driven, courageous, ambitious, . I could fill up a page with accolade about his character because he was truly Special. As a leader special, as a servant special, as an intellect special, trainer, a teacher, a mentor special, as a son special, as a husband, a father, a brother a friend, as a Black Man Special.! Askia you will be missed, but you fulfilled your purpose, and you made your mark , so well done! Love you, your big sister, Urra Kessa/Diana Chappell

  8. reply
    Franita Rollins Delk says

    Sending prayers of comfort, strength and peace to the Sparrow Family. I had the pleasure of meeting Askia when we worked at DBHS in Portsmouth and like everyone said he had a humble, kind spirit. Your job was complete on earth now its time to receive your reward in heaven.

  9. reply
    John R. Hairston, Jr says

    To my brother truly, you are missed beyond comprehension. I will always cherish our wild teenage days and those when we all grew up to become Husbands to fathers. It may appear late, but thank you my brother for all the encouragement via late-night conversations and the unjudgmental spirit.

    Your example I believe will certainly continue on in the legacy of your children and your grandchildren.

    To your family, Thank you for sharing one of the greatest dudes I know. John R. Hairston ( Juice)

  10. reply
    Wesley & Carolyn Whitfield and Family says

    Sending our condolences and prayers to the Sparrow Family.

  11. reply
    Earl Robinson says

    My condolences goes out to the entire Sparrow family. I will always have you’ll in my prayers. Stay strong and keep the faith. Rest In Peace and Heaven.
    Earl Robinson

  12. reply
    Ernest Muhammad says

    We lost a great one! When an elder goes into the ground it’s as though we lost a library. He was very wise! May he Rest In Peace.

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