A Message from Karyn
We want to start by extending our deepest condolences to the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille and members of the Dallas police of last week's tragic events. During this time of devastation and heartbreak, many are feeling angry, frustrated, helpless and overwhelmed. This month, we have started a new section of the newsletter dedicated to highlighting must-read articles circulating online covering news such as this and even some articles to brighten your day.

July's curation includes must-reads from Jesse Williams inspirational speech at this year's BET Awards and the #BlackLivesMatter movement to Frederick Douglass' speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July to people of color. We have also included an op-ed by writer Roxane Gay on the death of Alton Sterling and what it means to the importance of black lives in American society. During this trying time, Sweet Blackberry would like to remind you of these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." We hope that despite this, you have still found time to create new memories with loved ones this summer. 

Speaking of summer, can you believe we're halfway through July already? With the ESPY's and Summer Olympics approaching, it looks like the second half of summer will be filled with exciting sporting events the whole family can take part in including this month's printable activity dedicated to highlighting little-known facts about this year's most distinguished athletes. Be sure to print it out and quiz each other on a few of the inspirational members of Team USA!  

All the best,
African Americans Athletes 

With ESPN's ESPY Awards right around the corner, Serena Williams' recent win at Wimbledon and the summer Olympics beginning in August, it's a better time than ever to celebrate athletes of color who are setting milestones and breaking barriers within the sporting industry. 

Here is this month's activity sharing the stories of some of today's amazing athletes. 
Jumping The Broom

Have you ever attended a wedding ceremony where the bride and groom jumped over a broom?"Did you know that "jumping the broom" originated in the West African country of Ghana? Though recognized on July 15, it signifies the consummation of a marriage all year round!  During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, most of Ghana in th e 18th century was ruled by the Asante of Ashanti Confederacy. They Asante's urban areas and roads were kept conspicuously clean according to visiting British and Dutch traders with the use of locally made brooms. These same brooms were used by wives or servants to clean the courtyards of palaces or homes. It also held spiritual value and symbolized sweeping away past wrongs or removing evil spirits. 

Brooms were waved over the heads of marrying couples to ward off spirits. The couple would often but not always jump over the broom at the end of the ceremony to symbolize the wife's commitment or willingness to clean the courtyard of the new home she had joined. 

Ironically enough, the act of jumping the broom was not a custom of slavery, but part of African culture that was able to survive American slavery. Once slavery ended, and African Americans began to have European-style weddings with rings that symbolized their bond, this ceremonious act decreased. It was not until the publication of Alex Haley's Roots that it began to resurge. To learn more about the practice of jumping the broom, click here
What  We're R eading
Support Sweet Blackberry's New Bessie Coleman Story

We are currently fundraising for our latest project sharing the story of the first African American female pilot, Bessie Coleman. This animated short will surround Coleman's journey and determination to defy odds by moving to France from Atlanta, Texas to learn to fly. 

This Bessie Coleman project will join our collection of short films teaching children little known black history stories such as the stories of Henry "Box" Brown, Janet Collins and Garrett Morgan. Each of these films is currently available on Netflix. 

#BlackLivesMatter, Too

With the recent untimely deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and Dallas Police officers Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith and Lorne Ahrens, it's important to discuss what the #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement is and is not. BLM began in 2013 with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. The movement became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, New York. Since the movement began Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and Freddie Gray also faced their deaths during a confrontation with police. However, despite many misconceptions being pro-BlackLivesMatter does not in any way mean that supporters are anti-police. 
Source: Erik Washington

BLM Founder Alicia Garza put their mission this way: "When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgment that Black poverty and genocide is [an act of] state violence. It is an acknowledgement that 1 million Black people are locked in cages in this country - one half of all people in prisons or jails- is an act of state violence. It is an acknowledgement that Black women continue to bear the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families and that assault is an act of state violence." 

This month we recognize the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment adopted on July 9, 1868 which addressed citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. With this mark and BLM's recent protests we encourage our supports to be sure to stay up to date with recent news and take action where they see just and fit. Here are some links that may be helpful. 

  • To find your local congressman, click here
  • To learn more about #BlackLivesMatter, click here
  • To learn more about the Fourteenth Amendment, click here
I am the first woman to win my third consecutive world all-around title in gymnastics.  
I have my own signature floor routine called "The Biles." 
I am the front runner in gymnastics for this year's Olympics. 
Who am I? 
Tweet your answer to  @SwtBlackberry  for a shout out in next month's newsletter! 

The answer to last month's trivia question was James Earl Jones! Congrats @reshats for answering last month's trivia correctly.