Sharing history to bridge racial divides
Founded by a senior in high school, BlackEd Perspective uses African American history and popular culture to connect communities
LearnServe International is a nonprofit organization that equips students with the entrepreneurial vision, tenacity, confidence, and leadership skills needed to tackle social challenges at home and abroad. The LearnServe Fellows program guides students as they design and launch social ventures, and this month, we are highlighting some of those projects.
We are taught that there are two sides to every story. Yet in school, we are only taught history from his perspective. So let me ask you, is his history more important than mine?
My name is Christopher Cole. I am a senior at School Without Walls High School in Washington, D.C., and I am the founder of BlackEd Perspective. Since America’s inception, the people of this country have been taught its history from a Eurocentric perspective. This focus prevents us from accurately understanding ourselves, each other, and our society. It also reinforces the racial divides in our communities.
BlackEd Perspective aims to address these issues by teaching African American history through social influence and popular culture. As an education/entertainment organization, BlackEd Perspective uses clothing, art, music, and movies to help viewers visualize the perspectives of African Americans. We use multi-media platforms to help viewers connect to the information being taught and keep them engaged in what they are learning. So far, I have launched a clothing line, hosted multiple workshops on different topics, and created several documentaries. I will continue to develop projects that connect to my audience through creative mediums.
I became a social entrepreneur when I joined the LearnServe International Fellows Program in 2015. Following the Fellows Program, I travelled to Zambia with LearnServe Abroad, teaching elementary school students, planting trees, camping, and learning about the many cultures I encountered. I came back from Zambia a different person because of the experiences I had there. My time in Zambia helped me understand the importance of using history to understand the present. The trip allowed me to see different aspects of my society and different aspects of my identity—in terms of my African history and culture—that I had never experienced before.
I want to connect people to each other, and most importantly, I want to connect others to the lessons of yesterday in order to understand today and build a brighter tomorrow.
When I created the BlackEd Perspective, I knew that I wanted to create something that helped people understand my perspective: that teaching African American history can have a positive impact on our educational institutions, communities, and in our society. I wanted to help people understand how important African American history is and how fun it can be to learn about it. After finding studies that showed the positive impact ethnic studies has on the education and socialization of students coming from diverse demographics, I knew how important and powerful this business venture would be.
The BlackEd Perspective can help people inside and outside of the black community understand African American history through different mediums of learning. I’ve noticed that people are able to connect to a subject when they can better relate to the lessons being taught. When people read the autobiography of Frederick Douglas, they get a better understanding of the harsh realities of slavery. When people see footage of the riots in Birmingham, Alabama, they can see up close the harsh realities of racism, segregation, and inequality in the United States. When people see videos or hear stories of African Americans brutalized and killed by police officers, they can begin to understand the issues of racism that are prevalent to some and subtle to others in today’s society.
I want to connect people to an important narrative of our history. I want to connect people to each other, and most importantly, I want to connect others to the lessons of yesterday in order to understand today and build a brighter tomorrow. Welcome to the BlackEd Perspective.
Visit BlackEd Perspective’s Youtube Channel.