A Message from Karyn

It's hard to believe we've been adjusting to the pandemic since March. Now, school is back in session, we're approaching a monumental election (please make sure you're registered to vote) and it all seems so hard to witness how fast and slow 2020 is moving.  

While the pandemic is always at the top of our minds, this month's newsletter is focusing on education and Black educators. Be sure to check out the below for a word search on this topic, information about Sweet Blackberry's fall programming, our book of the month and of course...Black educator trivia. If you are interested in more at-home activities please, check them out on our website here

Wishing you all the best during this time, 

Historic Emmy Wins! 

Last weekend, many of us gathered around our streaming devices to tune in to this year's virtual Emmy awards. Out of the 18 acting awards announced, nine (50%) went to Black actors. This is a big change compared to last year, where only 11 percent of awards in this category went to Black actors and 2013 when the number was zero for all minorities. 

History was also made when 26-year-old entertainer Zendaya became the youngest woman to win for lead in a drama. It was only the second time in the award's history when a Black woman won the category following Viola Davis's win in 2015. 

Check out this write up in the Hollywood Reporter of last weekend's winners here
Celebrating Black Educators 
Whereas last month, we celebrated the importance of HBCUs, this  month, we're focusing on Black educators in American history. While many know of Aristotle, Socrates and even the life and accomplishments of Hellen Keller, less know of Cornell West, Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune. These prominent Americans played their part in elevating the American education system. Why does this matter? 

Teachers of color only represent 18 percent of the teaching population. Even worse, Black educators are 7 percent of this same group. Studies have also found that having one Black teacher in elementary school increases the chances that low-income Black students graduate high school and consider attending college.  

Is your school system diverse? If not, are there steps your community is taking to diversify? This month, take time to read up on your school system and learn about trailblazers in the teaching community. We challenge you and your little ones to complete our Black educator word search that can be printed and discussed at home. Once completed, go back and research each individual in the puzzle. 

Fall Programming 
with Sweet Blackberry 

While schools across the country are divided on whether to hold classes in-person, Sweet Blackberry is altering our community visit programming this fall to accommodate all students. 

Programming is tailored to each audience, be that elementary, middle or high school students. Themes addressed include surmounting odds, African American history, inventors and their innovations, as well as storytelling, creative writing, and filmmaking. Each presentation includes a screening of a Sweet Blackberry film and Q&A with founder, Karyn Parsons. Curriculum lessons are available to elementary school students, while older students will be tasked with creating their own version of a Sweet Blackberry film. 

If interested in bringing Sweet Blackberry to a virtual classroom near you, please email admin@sweetblackberry.org. 

Addie May Collins
Carole Denise McNair
Cynthia Wesley
Carole Rosamond Robertson 
On September 15, 1963, eleven days after a federal court mandated the integration of Alabama's school system, members of the Klu Klux Klan planted dynamite under the front steps of the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. It exploded as five girls were playing in the basement bathroom, changing into their choir robes. Four of them didn't survive. 

This historical nightmare, much like many others that we still see today, shows a small piece of the dangers people of color face each day. We hope that you continue to let your children know how these events fit in American history, and, for many, the chance at an equal education will continue to be something we fight for. 

I was cofounder of the African American Education Leadership Group
I am a graduate of Hampton University 
I was the first woman to serve as vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of American 

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

Chadwick Boseman

Last month, we learned of actor Chadwick Boseman's passing. Known best for his role as Black Panther, Boseman's career first exploded with his portrayals of Black American icons Thurgood Marshall (in 2017's "Marshall"), Jackie Robinson (in 2013's "42") and James Brown (in 2014's "Get on Up"). It's more than being able to transform into these icons on screen, Chadwick's portrayal of these characters were applauded by many. His role as T'Challa in Black Panther showed children everywhere that superheroes come from all backgrounds. Here is someone to look up to. Here's a character and a man to aspire to be.

While the entertainment community and Boseman's fans have been greatly set aback by this loss, nothing can compare to the amount of heartbreak his family and loved ones are currently facing. 

If you're interested in reading more on Chadwick's legacy, click here

The Teacher's March!: How Selma's Teachers Changed History  

By Sandra Neil Wallace & Rich Wallace 

Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs--and perhaps their lives--by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the Black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this story, which is especially important today.
Check out this book on Amazon Smile here. 
What We're Reading!