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Project aims to make Black history more accessible

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new project in New Mexico aims to provide more in-depth, accessible information about Blacks who shaped American history and other culturally significant historical events.

The project, “Black Story//Black Song: History Through the African American Lens,” provides eight short online video courses that delve into the topics of ancestry, art, civil rights, poetry, hip hop, literature, New Mexico history and science.

The videos were created by Earthseed Black Arts Alliance, a group in northern New Mexico that works to increase Black representation in arts and cultural programs.

Raashan Ahmad, a founding member of Earthseed Black Arts Alliance, was the project’s producer.

“There are more stories out there than I got when growing up,” he said. “We wanted to tell more history of Black folks. We have a history here and everywhere that’s real beautiful.”

Grants and donations from local businesses helped pay for the project.

Each approximately 5-minute video features a different African American speaker who is an expert in the field they are presenting.

The segment by Nikesha Breeze, a STEM teacher in Taos who specializes in African American history, discusses important Black figures in New Mexico history. Writer, poet and performer Oriana Lee talks about the origins and rise of Hip Hop.

The videos are accompanied by a full lesson plan that can be downloaded and saved. The lesson plans include a vocabulary index, an activity, guiding questions and a list of further resources. There is also a short bio on the presenter.

The materials can be found at earthseedblackarts.org/black-story-black-song.

Ahmad said the project is for everyone, but it was put together with teachers in mind. It’s organized in a way that can supplement their existing lesson plans or so that they can direct their students to access the material online at home.

Black history, he said, is relevant all year but Black History Month, which is held every February, heightens the awareness.

“It’s really bizarre it’s not learned year round,” he said. “But we understand February is an easy launch.”

Ahmad said much of the history related to Blacks that is learned in school, focuses on their suffering, not their triumphs or ordinary, everyday life.

“We wanted to show something beyond trauma,” he said. “There is also joy in our history.”

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