A Message from Karyn  

Can you believe summer is coming to a close? As many of us begin to plan our fall schedules including prepping the kids for another year of school, we wanted to highlight a few big items that have happened since summer began.

As we all know, August marks the end of summer, our days are starting to get shorter and we're still trying to make the most of each moment we get. News of legend Aretha Franklin's passing came last week following news coverage of a second "Alt-Right" gathering in our nation's capital following last year's devastating Charlottesville event leaving many injured and one woman fighting for equality dead. Noting that most of us are more often than not glued to our mobile devices, it's important to fully understand the issues our country is faced with and better educate ourselves on all issues. Aretha Franklin projected her voice during a time of racial oppression of this country and while we all may not have her talent, we, too are able to speak up. For example, this month's newsletter highlights Mari Copeny who is more widely known as Little Miss Flint. While Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended the city's free water program, Mari is using her voice and encouraging those to donate money to purchase bottled water for Flint's residents. 

Check out this month's newsletter below focusing on these trail blazers as well as Black Educators, art and many things currently happening around the world. 

All the best,
Celebrating  Black Educators
School is officially in session! This month, Sweet Blackberry is recognizing Black educators who made their mark in American history and created opportunities for people of color when there weren't any. 

Remembering Aretha Franklin
This month, the world lost a legendary voice known as the Queen of Soul -- Aretha Franklin. 

A symbol of Black pride to many, Franklin's songs such as "RESPECT," "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman," and "Think" became anthems reflecting the growing militancy of African Americans in challenging  racial oppression  in the late-60s and early-70s. 

Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and has the largest number of Top 40 singles of any female performer. She was the youngest recipient of the John F. Kennedy Center Honors in 1994, the first Black entertainer to grace to cover of TIME magazine in 1968 and  the recipient of 17 Grammy awards. More than just a singer, Aretha Franklin will always have a place in our hearts and souls as a prime example of an individual who was able to use her celebrity for the good of all people. She offered a realness by projecting blackness to the world in all of its nuanced beauty by being assertive, strong and never letting anyone make her feel less of herself. 

Sweet Blackberry would like to extend its condolences to the family and friends of Aretha Franklin. May we all grace through life with the strength and passion she showed us all. 

Respect - Aretha Franklin
Respect - Aretha Franklin

The Flint Water Crisis Continues 

The Flint Water Crisis began four years ago when the drinking water source for the city of Flint, Michigan was changed from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the cheaper Flint River. 

Due to insufficient water treatment, lead leached from lead water piped into the drinking water exposing over 100,000 residents. The water is dangerous to drink. Supported by scientific studies and declared a federal state of emergency in 2016, Flint residents were instructed to only use bottled or filtered water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing. While work has been done, 6,000 - 12,000 children have been exposed to lead and water quality will not return to acceptable levels until all of the lead pipes have been replaced (expected 2020). 

If you have been following this crisis, you may have noticed 10 year old Mari Copeny (Little Miss Flint) has been using her voice to raise attention to Flint's crisis as well as gather donated water to provide to Flint's citizens. 

If you are interested in supporting this cause, check out Mari's latest GoFundMe to offer free bottled water to Flint residents after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended the city's free water program. 
Bessie Coleman Update

We're almost there! As you know, we're working hard to complete our Bessie Coleman film and tackle to remaining Kickstarter awards. We truly appreciate all of your help throughout this journey. This summer we've completed interviews with Bessie Coleman's great niece Gigi, pilot Kimberly Anyadike and our narrator Laurence Fishburne!

Please be sure to keep a lookout for additional information on the premiere of this film in coming months and encourage your friends and family to follow this project, too! 
What  We're R eading 
News Alert: Karyn Parsons Announces Debut Novel

Earlier this month our founder Karyn Parsons announced that she has a brand new project underway. 

In Spring 2019 Karyn is expected to release  "How High Is The Moon," her debut novel set in the Jim Crow south. 

Check out this Karyn's recent interview with ESSENCE Magazine discussing her novel and her work with Sweet Blackberry. 
August: Art Appreciation Month
Source: Kara Walker
Gordon Parks. Kara Walker. Jean-Michel Basqiat. Though you may not realize it at first glance, masterpieces created by African-American artists have rightfully made their mark in United States art history. As we celebrate art this August, check out this cool list of art exhibitions around the country you should definitely see for yourself
Book of The Month
What Color Is My World?  
Did you know that James West invented the microphone in your cell phone? That Fred Jones invented the refrigerated truck that makes supermarkets possible? Or that Dr. Percy Julian synthesized cortisone from soy, easing untold people's pain? 

These are just some of the black inventors and innovators scoring big points in this dynamic look at several unsung heroes who shared a desire to improve people's lives. Offering profiles with fast facts on flaps and framed by a funny contemporary story featuring two feisty twins, here is a nod to the minds behind the gamma electric cell and the ice-cream scoop, improvements to traffic lights, open-heart surgery, and more - inventors whose ingenuity and perseverance against great odds made our world safer, better, and brighter.

Find the book on Amazon Smile, here
I'm known for painting grand portraits of young African American males in historical poses of power and privilege.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. 
I studied at San Francisco Art Institute.

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