A Message from Karyn

Summer is quickly approaching, and it's hard to grasp what the season will look like in this new normal. Continuing to distance ourselves socially doesn't mean that we can't find small ways to bring joy to our loved ones. Life still has meaning. While Sweet Blackberry continues to work on summertime content the family can enjoy, check out what we have in store for May.

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day this month, we have an activity highlighting African Americans' accomplishments in the military we'd love for you to share. In addition to this lesson and its accompanying quiz, our book of the month shares the lesser-known story of Cathay Williams (sometimes spelled 'Cathy'), the first and only female Buffalo Soldier.

Sweet Blackberry hosted its first and second live streams of the season earlier this month for our latest film, Flying Free: The Bessie Coleman Story. Throughout the summer, we will host a screening on our Facebook page once a month with a Q&A to follow. Each film includes accompanying activities that can be done at home, located on our website. In June, we will screen Garrett's Gift, sharing the story of inventor Garrett Morgan.

Wishing you all the best during this time,

African Americans 
In The Military

Throughout American history, African Americans have played an integral role in our armed forces. From the Buffalo Soldiers to the African American women serving in the WAC, there is a lot of unknown and unspoken history to be shared with younger and future generations. 

As we take the time to remember our loved ones this Memorial Day, take a loo k at this activity, walking you through the rich history  of African Americans in the military.  

In addition to this month's activity, check out animator David Heredia's amazing animated short sharing the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, one of the most celebrated African-American military units in U.S. history, as a part of his Heroes of Color series. 

Heroes of Color: The Harlem Hellfighters / 369th Infantry
Heroes of Color: The Harlem Hellfighters / 369th Infantry

Livestream Garrett's Gift 

Join us Saturday, June 6 at 2 pm ET/ 11 am PT for a live screening of Sweet Blackberry's Garrett's Gift on our Facebook page

Following the film, our founder, Karyn Parsons, will conduct a Q&A for viewers. We will also share a few at-home activities inspired by the film for the kids. 

Garrett's Gift tells the inspiring story of African American inventor Garrett Morgan.

As a young boy, Garrett doesn't know what he's good at. He always seems to be getting into trouble. Upon moving to the big city, Garrett witnesses a series of collisions. His creative thinking and imagination lead him to invent the traffic signal.

Garrett's Gift teaches us that we are all given a gift, but what's most important is that we give that gift back to the world.

Illustrated by Coretta Scott King award-winner R. Gregory Christie, and narrated by Queen Latifah, Garrett's Gift will encourage young and old alike to expand their imagination and creative mind.

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of screening our latest film, Flying Free: The Bessie Coleman Story. Moving forward, Sweet Blackberry will be hosting film screenings and publishing other cool video content. Stay tuned for more to come! 
Losing A Legend: Little Richard, The Architect of 
Rock & Roll 

Earlier this month, we learned that we lost beloved rock & roll pioneer Little Richard to bone cancer. 

Born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgie, Richard's work broke color barriers on music charts joining Chuck Berry and Fats Domino in bringing music, once labeled as "race music" into the mainstream.  His popularity shattered myths that black entertainers could not successfully perform at "white-only" venues. When speaking about his influence on rock and roll, Richard told The Rolling Stone,"When I first came along, I never heard any rock & roll. When I started singing [rock & roll], I sang it a long time before I presented it to the public because I was afraid they wouldn't like it. I never heard nobody do it, and I was scared." 

We all know his hits " Tutti Frutti," "Good Golly Miss Molly," and so many others, but Richard was a movement on his own. Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mick Jagger and many other artists have shared how Little Richard's style and musical components inspired them in countless ways. Many components of American culture wouldn't be the same without his influence. 
What We're Reading

Book of The Month
Cathy Williams: From Slave to Buffalo Soldier
By Phillip Thomas Tucker

Women in the United States military have received more recognition than ever in recent years, but women also played vital roles in battles and campaigns of previous generations. 
Cathy Williams served as Pvt. William Cathay from 1866 to 1868 with the famed Buffalo Soldiers who patrolled the 900-mile Santa Fe Trail. Tucker traces her life from her birth as a slave near Independence, Missouri, to her service in Company A, 38th U.S. Infantry, one of the six black units formed following the Civil War. Cathy Williams remains the only known African American woman to have served as a Buffalo Soldier in the Indian Wars. Her remarkable story continues to represent a triumph of the human spirit. 
Check it out on Amazon Smile  here. 
Remembering Andre Harrell 

Sweet Blackberry would like to extend its condolences to the family and friends of music industry pioneer Andre Harrell. 

Harrell was the founder of Uptown Records, home to many new-jack-swing creators of the 80s and 90s, served as president and CEO of the legendary Motown Records and also performed as half of of the hip hop duo Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. 

His list of influence in the entertainment industry is never-ending. Harrell helped build the careers of music icons Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Mary J. Blige. Uptown was also home to artists Al B. Sure!, Heavy D. and Teddy Riley. His impact on the black entertainment industry and Uptown's deal with MCA led to Halle Berry's first starring role in Strictly Business and the development of the television show  New York Undercover

You can read more on Andre Harrell's legacy here
I am the son of the army's first Black general 
During my time at West Point, I was the only Black cadet
I was the founder and served as the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen   

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