I know we normally start off Black History Month with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X with references to a few select historic moments in time and a clarion call to never forget the sacrifices of those who fought for what we now enjoy.
All of that is important.
However, this year is special for me because for the first time in my life I am truly excited about the actions I see taking place across the African Diaspora by people of African descent to take back control of our own narrative through the celebration of our collective heritage and share all of this rich legacy with anyone who is willing to receive it.
So here are a few celebrations of Black Excellence I’m starting with right out of the gate. Rest assured, there will be more as I look to share more of the “hidden stories” of Africans and their descendants during BHM 2017.
Queen Amina of Zaria
I am beyond excited to see more online listings of real figures from African history. I use that term intentionally in reference to the continent because Africa has been home to numerous kingdoms and now nations who each have their own unique cultures and customs and I wish to celebrate them all.
Creating Teachable Moments
I also made a decision to stop waiting for other people to recognize the accomplishments of black people and to make the sharing of this knowledge and pride in the people who came before me a personal aspiration. I created the first of what I hope will be many teaser quizzes to entice people into exploring histories that are often left out of many standard history books and curricula.
What makes me feel even more hopeful is that I am not alone in this work and many of us can now see one another and encourage one another through the use of social media. Each of these teams is striving to show all people that black people have a proud heritage full of accomplishments and every reason to hold our head high. This work is important for the sake of our children who rely on us to pass down our stories since they are edited out if most mainstream sources.
I plan to profile each of these comrades and others as we progress through BHM but I want to list a few of them now so that you can hopefully make them a part of your Black History Month celebrations this year.
Ask Dr. Marta
At Marta Collier Educational Systems and Services (MCESS), we are dedicated educators with over 30 years of experience in working with early learners and school-aged children. We focus on providing culturally-competent early literacy resources that reflect the heritages of all children from around the world. The site contains hundreds of children’s book recommendations for early learners, videos and other resources for parents and educators.
Although superheroes are more popular than ever, there’s little diversity amongst their ranks, so we decided to introduce some. We strongly believe it’s time we had a more eclectic selection of superhero stories and characters in pop culture. People don’t necessarily connect with the current slate of popular superheroes (which we love and are absolutely hooked on) because of their origin, but because they can relate to those characters.
YouNeek Studios is a hub for “YouNeek” and creative character-based storytelling and entertainment. Through the use of animation, digital comics (as well as print), graphic novels, film and other popular media, we aim to build a library of eclectic characters that appeal to a broad audience. Simply put, we focus on telling extraordinary stories about extraordinary characters.
African Girl Brands
African Girl Brands, was born from the need to cater to people with ties to Africa all around the World. Our story is simple, we are African, some of us live on the continent, some of us do not, but we want our culture and traditions to live through us and generations to come. We are proud people.
Bino and Fino
The idea for the Bino & Fino cartoon series came about around 2007. The creator of the show, Adamu Waziri, realised that there was a massive lack of true African made children’s educational cartoon shows. In Nigeria at the time there were no indigenous cartoon shows that showed children a reflection of themselves. All the cartoon shows were imported and had no link to Africa in anyway.
Children are highly impressionable and the human brains learning capacity is the most between 0-6 years. Children’s media is one of the most powerful when it comes to shaping minds. So the fact that children across the world had no cartoon they could watch that genuinely taught them about Africa or represented the continent in a proper way was a worrying one.
The show was created to help rectify this imbalance and to create much needed family friendly genuine educational children’s programming that isn’t afraid to assume that children are a lot smarter than we think they are.
Bino & Fino is made by EVCL which is an animation studio based in Abuja, Nigeria.
Queens of Africa Dolls
We are FICO Solutions Nigeria LTD, the creators of first ever Nigerian Fashion dolls: The Queens of Africa & Naija Princesses. The Queens of Africa program is dedicated, through the use of books, dolls, comics, music and animation series, to help empower children of African descent and their counterparts to be confident and matured ethically. The dolls and materials are designed, through fun and engaging materials, to subconsciously promote African heritage. Developed by entrepreneur and philanthropist Taofick Okoya, the program has reached tens of thousands of children across Africa contributing significantly to education programs, particularly in Nigeria. Queens of Africa celebrates being an African girl in the 21st century by drawing on the strengths and achievements of our ancestors and bring them up to date to empower and inspire today’s generation of African girls.
Please help spread the word about these resources by liking and sharing the links with your social networks.
~ Marta C. Youngblood