Today marks the first day of Black History Month. Instead of highlighting the usual amazing people who’ve made a difference in our world - we love you, Harriet Tubman! - we’ve decided to look at those who’ve made an impact on the 20th and 21st centuries.
Whether you’re a member of the Black community or not, the following people should be an inspiration for your kiddo.
Jean-Michel Basquiat: Artist
Although he passed away in 1988 at the age of 27, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s contributions to the art world remain a major influence on young artists to this day. The Brooklyn-born Basquiat - say that five times fast! - took his everyday experiences and turned them into brilliant works of art. Whenever he touched a canvas, Basquiat was able to create a meaningful expression that made the art world gasp in awe. He also collaborated with Andy Warhol while inspiring a generation of Black kids to pick up a paintbrush, spray can, and other media to become artists themselves.
Quinta Brunson: Writer, Producer, Actress, Comedian
Abbott Elementary is one of the best shows around. Told from the perspective of the teachers at an underfunded public school in Philadelphia, the show is the brainchild of Quinta Brunson, a former BuzzFeed producer. Brunson stars in, produces, and writes the show along with a cast of the funniest performers and legends - we see you, Sheryl Lee Ralph! Brunson has won multiple awards for the show, including an Emmy. Our hope is that Abbott Elementary does an episode about our interactive smart companion for children, Snorble®. But, until then, we hope everyone everywhere can be inspired as we are by each episode of Abbott.
Chadwick Boseman: Wakanda’s Forever King
Children need superheroes that look like them because representation matters. When Chadwick Boseman was cast as the titular T’Challa in Black Panther, Black children everywhere had someone that looked like them saving the world from evil. Boseman wasn’t the first Black Marvel movie superhero - Anthony Mackie kicked things off with his portrayal as The Falcon - but it was Black Panther that really made the industry take notice. Even the most critical comic book fans were enamored with Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa and those people are never happy with casting choices. Unfortunately, Boseman’s life was cut short by cancer in 2020 but his legacy and compassion live on.
Laverne Cox: Actress, Producer, Activist
We don’t like to throw around the word “trailblazer” lightly unless someone is an actual trailblazer like Laverne Cox. Besides being the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy, Cox has led the way for transpeople to be themselves without scrutiny - kind of, we still have a long way to go to ensure the LGBTQ+ community enjoys the same rights as others. But children everywhere can look up to Cox and see how one person’s advocacy can change the world.
Viola Desmond: Activist, Icon
Canada may not be on your radar when it comes to civil rights icons, but Viola Desmond is not only an icon, she was a businesswoman and the first Canadian woman to be featured alone on a unit of currency (the $10 bill). In 1946, Desmond challenged racial segregation at a theater in Nova Scotia by refusing to leave the whites-only area. Her ordeal became one of the most publicized racial discrimination cases in Canada and paved the way for the country’s civil rights movement. In 2018, the government named her a National Historic Person which is pretty much like being knighted.
- Stylist to the stars, Law Roach - he’s the reason Zendaya looks so phenomenal on red carpets
- Solange - yes, she’s Beyoncé’s sister but she’s also got a set of pipes on her
- Garrett Morris - original SNL cast member who had everyone in stitches on a recurring Weekend Update segment as a translator
- Willie O’Ree - first Black NHL player
We’ll be posting more later this month so stay tuned for more people who’ve made an impact!