A Message from Karyn

As we make our way into November, Sweet Blackberry would like to encourage all of our supporters to please take a part and exercise your right to vote in local, state, and national elections. Research all candidates to learn more about each of their platforms, and encourage your loved ones to do so as well.

While this month's newsletter puts great focus on the upcoming elections, key politicians, and the importance of being well-informed, it also highlights key news and updates, including the latest on our Bessie Coleman film, a tribute to writer Ntozake Shange, and much more.

Feel free to pass along any of the below content to your own friends and family, and encourage them to subscribe to the latest Sweet Blackberry news. As a reminder, Sweet Blackberry content is available to stream on AfroLife, and if you are an educator, you can access our films through the Kanopy platform.

All the best,
Celebrating  Black Politicians

Imagine living in a world where one simply couldn't register to vote solely because of the color of their skin. Imagine finally earning your right to vote and having to experience wrongful measures to do so including intimidation by local officials and having to take an impossible test. These are hurdles many Black Americans had to cross prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This law outlawed these discriminatory practices that were adopted by many southern states after the civil war.

It's not just the Voting Rights Act that changed the way voices were able to be heard. Many people of color and African Americans as it relates to American history have had to fight and make hard choices that have led to many of the measures we have in place today.

With Election Week just around the corner, please keep in mind the individuals behind the fight for voter rights and read up on each candidate prior to going to the polls to vote.

Following Sweet Blackberry's mission, to to share lesser known triumphs by African Americans throughout history, check out this month's activity highlighting the men and woman who became the "first" of many to hold public office at the local, state and national levels.
Remembering Ntozake Shange

"Sing a black girl's song/bring her out/to know herself/to know you..."

When the first trailer for the Tyler Perry's directed film For Colored Girls (2010) came out, news of the original choreopoem (1975), For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf (1976), turned off-Broadway play circulated. It wasn't the first time the the words of Ntozake Shange were brought to life but it showed that her timeless masterpiece showcasing the stories of the Ladies in Red, Blue, Purple, Yellow, Brown, Green and Orange still had meaning and could still make its mark on Black women, regardless of their age. It could bond family members regardless of generations

Last week, we learned of the passing of Shange and with this news, many began to reflect on how her work has affected their lives its impact on Black womanhood. 

While Shange is best known for For Colored Girls, her life and life's work is profound. She authored several novels including Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo (1982), Liliane (1994) and Betsey Brown (1985). She achieved a wide range of honors and awards including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund as well as a Pushcart Prize. Growing up, Shange's family had a strong interest for the arts with the likes of Miles Davis, Chuck Berry and W.E.B. Du Bois known to be guests in her family's home. 

Sweet Blackberry would like to extend its condolences to the loved ones of Ntozake Shange. May her words continue to enlighten and her path continue to inspire generations to come.  

Who is Stacey Abrams? 

It's hard to believe that America has yet to have a Black woman governor. There's a chance Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will change that.  

The second of six children, Abrams grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi. Her mother was a school librarian and her father was a shipyard worker. Her family later moved to Atlanta where Abrams went on to graduate as valedictorian of her class at Spelman. 

Abrams, a notable story teller, shared that she found her footing in working in community oriented affairs after the Rodney King verdict sparked violent protests in Black communities across the country. Mother Jones reported that Abrams grew angry with how the media characterized young people in the streets as "angry vandals rather than complex human beings who had seen in a single verdict an indictment of our humanity." She called local news stations to complain about their coverage and eventually went on to earn her master's degree from the University of Texas and her law degree from Yale. In 2003, at 29 years old, Abrams was appointed Atlanta's deputy city attorney, she was elected to the state Assembly in 2006 and became Georgia's House first African American minority leader in 2010. 

While Abrams' run is indeed historic, Sweet Blackberry encourages you to read up on all candidate information prior to making any decision in the voting booth. Be sure to exercise your right to vote this upcoming Election Tuesday. 
Bessie Coleman Update

We have a few exciting updates to share (especially for those awaiting Kickstarter items)! 
Our illustrator R. Gregory Christie and animator Katherine Bianca Clark have been hard at work putting together our film. The two of them have collectively put together their magic to create beautiful imagery (you can preview below) in order to bring Bessie's story to life. With this work and Sweet Blackberry's oversight, our story will be ready for everyone to see (or stream) February 2019 -- just in time for Black History Month! 

Additionally, we wanted to share that we are holding off sending a few additional rewards until the film is completed. This includes any rewards that include any of the Sweet Blackberry films. On the Sweet Blackberry side of things, we want to make sure you get the full Sweet Blackberry experience with one mailing, especially those across the world. We've reached out to many of you to confirm how you would like the film and will deliver the complete package as soon as everything is finished. 

We have a few more plans underway to distribute the film once completed that we will update you with as soon as everything is set in stone. In the meantime, please enjoy the below images and feel free to reach out with any questions.

What  We're R eading 
Book of The Month:
Lillian's Right To Vote

An elderly African American woman, en route to vote, remembers her family's tumultuous voting history in this picture book publishing in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a "long haul up a steep hill" to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky-she sees her family's history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time. She sees her parents trying to register to vote. And she sees herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery. Veteran bestselling picture-book author Jonah Winter and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner Shane W. Evans vividly recall America's battle for civil rights in this lyrical, poignant account of one woman's fierce determination to make it up the hill and make her voice heard.

Find the book on Amazon Smile, here

#GivingTuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving aimed at creating an international day of giving and mark the beginning of December's holiday season.
This year, Sweet Blackberry is asking our supporters to voice their support by introducing the organization to a loved one or choosing Sweet Blackberry as your organization of choice for Amazon Smile. 

When you purchase items through Amazon.com, Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charity organization.Simply register here: 
Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities. We invite you to join the movement and to help get out and give this November 27th.  We also ask that you support Sweet Blackberry by sharing news of our organization to five loved one's this holiday season. 

In addition, Sweet Blackberry also recognizes the need to support various organization's that align with your passion, morals and ethics. Visit https://www.givingtuesday.org/ to learn more about giving this holiday season. 

I am the first Black senator from New Jersey.

I played football for Stanford University. 

I was played myself in an episode of 'Parks and Recreation' and 'Being Mary Jane.'

Who am I? 
Tweet your answer to  @SwtBlackberry  for a shout out in next month's newsletter!