Sweet Blackberry

Sweet Blackberry


After finding the Black History being taught in schools to be very narrow, actor Karyn Parsons founded Sweet Blackberry to create books and films about lesser-known, remarkable Black Americans for all children (that she writes and produces!) That's why she's on our list of 25 game-changers in kids' media.
Today, our library received a donation of three books from an alumni parent who is a fan of the author and the work of her organization, Sweet Blackberry, that brings little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere.

The author, Karyn Parsons, is best known as the character “Hilary Banks” on the long-running television show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Karyn created Sweet Blackberry after being inspired by the true tale of a determined enslaved man and the remarkable lengths he travelled to find his freedom. While growing up, Karyn’s mother, a librarian in the Black Resource Center of a library in South Central Los Angeles, would share stories of African American accomplishment with her daughter.
Previously on The Swag please support Sweet Blackberry
My intention is to confuse you in a good way. This is Black History Month and I want you to support Black owed businesses and owners 365 days a year like Seegers Promotional Products Janika Tippytoes Cute-icles Giving With A Golden Hand B'Dazzled Ladies Boutique Letitia Council Deborah Harris Turquoise’s School of Dance J&K Style Grill Sheri Johnson Mood Changers Candle Company Yvette Brooks Kiara Montgomery &Sweet Blackberry EF J Hutchison to name a few
Previously on The Swag Media Network podcast The Swag celebrating Black History 365 days with Sweet Blackberry
Tune in next Thursday as me and Lady Dee sit down with the amazing Karyn Parsons aka Cousin Hilary (Fresh Prince) she is speaking on his incredible non profit org Sweet Blackberry you don’t want to miss this.
Here’s what to expect in November on The Swag Media Network podcast The Swag with Prince Cree & Lady Dee. Karyn Parsons isn’t just an Actress you know her as cousin Hilary on The Fresh Prince but she is an incredible writer and founder of The Sweet Blackberry organization. Please follow us on The Swag Media Network for the notification on this and other live episodes and shows.

This episode is powered by Seegers Promotional Products B'Dazzled Ladies Boutique Linda Jenkins
We have the honor of welcoming author and actress Karyn Parsons back to CPL! She's following up her story time with a reading from her middle grade book How High the Moon. The book, which is based on her mother's experiences in the Jim Crow south, has been described as To Kill a Mockingbird meets One Crazy Summer.

Tune in at 4 PM Friday to see her read, and go back now to watch her read her children's book Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman's Dreams Took Flight. https://fb.watch/3PYO08nyA0/
Sweet Blackberry
Flying Free: How Bessy Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight by Karyn Parsons, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Read with permission from Sweet Blackberry.
Karyn Parsons spent much of the nineties charming audiences as Hilary on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but since then she created Sweet Blackberry, a line of animated films that bring stories of unsung African American heroes to children everywhere, and established herself as a children's book author! Watch Karyn on reading her latest book, Flying Free, tells the story of Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to hold a pilots license.

To help us kick off and celebrate Bessie Coleman, her great-niece Gigi joins to talk more about her groundbreaking great-aunt. Did you know CPL has a branch named in honor of Bessie Coleman? The Coleman branch in West Woodlawn has been serving the community since 1993. Tune in Monday to honor Bessie with us and kick off the month (more events at https://chipublib.bibliocommons.com/events/search/fq=program:(52ec52e0cb8b1e0000000014)
Little, Brown and Company Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Major Payne
*By the way, Karyn will be coming out with a new book in the next few months about Garrett Morgan, inventor of the Traffic Signal! 🚦 Maybe she'll come back and read us the new book as well!
Why are the stories of our BiPOC ancestry erased from the histories we learn? Often, we must seek and find these gems on our own. Which stories are considered important? And who decides that? When author, founder of Sweet Blackberry and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actress, Karyn Parsons uncovered one of these buried treasures it sparked her own journey into Transformative Storytelling. Representation (or a lack thereof) affects the way we see ourselves. It is up to us to tell the tales of the past to ensure we are seen in the present and are empowered to shape the future.

What hidden histories have you uncovered from your lineage? Let us know in the comments!
Thank you for your patience today. We had a little delay, but had a wonderful time with Sweet Blackberry and Karyn Parsons! Make sure to check out more at www.sweetblackberry.org
Next week, we have a special treat for you all!!

Our "Take A Break" Series is going Live with Sweet Blackberry and Karyn Parsons to watch "Flying Free: the Bessie Coleman Story" right here on Facebook.

Join us on Monday, May 4 at 2:00pm EST to hang out, let loose, and take a break! Enjoy the video, and then hang out for a LIVE Q&A with Karyn right here!

Activity sheets for the kids accompanying the video will be available soon. See you Monday!

Karyn Parsons founded Sweet Blackberry to preserve stories of lesser-known heroes for all kids

Operating as usual

Timeline photos 04/29/2023

Sweet Blackberry Trivia:
I am the first African American to gain recognition as an artist.

I often advertised myself as a "self-taught genius."

I was enslaved for my entire adolescence.

In addition to my work painting wealthy local families, I painted many Black subjects, including Daniel Coker, a founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Who am I?

Timeline photos 04/27/2023

Check out our Sweet Blackberry Book of the Quarter - by

This middle-grade novel tells the story of a 12-year-old girl named Candice Miller who moves with her mother to the small town of Lambert, South Carolina. While exploring the town, Candice discovers a mysterious letter that leads her on a scavenger hunt to uncover the truth behind an old segregation-era lawsuit.

Along the way, Candice learns about the town's history of racial injustice and discovers the inspiring story of an African American tennis player named Carson Tucker. With its engaging mystery, relatable protagonist, and themes of social justice and perseverance, "The Parker Inheritance" is a powerful and inspiring book that is sure to captivate young readers.

Timeline photos 04/25/2023

Do you often wonder why things are the way they are? Why do streets have specific names, or why is that church somehow catercorner to everything else on the block? Designing a city is a complex and multi-disciplinary task involving fields such as urban planning, architecture, landscape design, transportation planning, engineering and more. The main goal is to create a functional, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing environment for its residents. For our nation's capitol, one of the people behind its design is Benjamin Banneker, an African American mathematician, astronomer and surveyor.

In 1791, President George Washington appointed Pierre Charles L'Enfant, a French-born architect and urban planner, to design the new federal capital city.

L'Enfant relied heavily on Banneker's skills as a surveyor to map out the layout of the city's streets, buildings, and public spaces. Banneker's expertise in astronomy also proved useful in determining the precise location of key landmarks such as the Capitol Building and the White House. Despite Banneker's contributions, L'Enfant and other white officials often marginalized him due to his race. For example, L'Enfant tried to exclude Banneker from a meeting with President Washington to discuss the progress of the city's design.

Nonetheless, Banneker's legacy endures as a reminder of the important role that African Americans played in creating Washington, D.C. and other American cities.

Photos from Sweet Blackberry's post 04/24/2023

Joseph Bologne, also known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), was a French composer, violinist, conductor, and military leader. He was born on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to a French plantation owner and a slave of Senegalese descent.

Despite facing racial discrimination, Joseph Bologne was recognized for his musical talents at a young age and trained as a classical violinist in France. He quickly gained fame as a virtuoso performer and composer and was often referred to as the "Black Mozart" due to his musical prowess.

In addition to his musical career, Joseph Bologne was also a skilled swordsman and athlete. He became the first Black man to lead a French regiment during the French Revolution, earning the title of colonel and leading his troops in battle.

Despite his success and contributions to French society, Joseph Bologne faced significant racial prejudice throughout his life, and was often excluded from certain social circles and opportunities due to his race. Nonetheless, he persevered and left a lasting impact on classical music and French history.

See the story of his life on the big screen!

🌸 Spring Greetings From Sweet Blackberry 🌸 04/24/2023

Spring is in the air! Check out our quarterly newsletter to get up-to-date on all things Sweet Blackberry. https://conta.cc/41G1Hqc

🌸 Spring Greetings From Sweet Blackberry 🌸 A Message from Karyn As spring blossoms around us, we're sharing an overdue update to all things Sweet Blackberry. This season, as we reflect on the rich legacy of Black culture, we invite you to expl

Timeline photos 02/28/2023

Before Elvis and Johnny Cash, there was —affectionately dubbed “The Godmother Of Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Tharpe—best known for her gospel vocals and unique electric guitar playing—paved the way for new artists and genres. Her distinctive voice and style, which fused Delta blues, New Orleans jazz, and gospel music, attracted fans across races during a time when it was a rarity to see a female guitarist and vocal artist that explored, in tandem, religious and secular genres.

Timeline photos 02/27/2023

Between 1930 and 1954, had a hand in nearly every major civil rights case that was brought to the Supreme Court. One by one, he planned to dismantle the system of Jim Crow laws.

"This fight for equality of educational opportunity (was) not an isolated struggle. All our struggles must tie in together and support one another. ... We must remain on the alert and push the struggle farther with all our might," Houston once said.

Timeline photos 02/26/2023

began her career as an activist in the early '60s when she was first denied the right to vote because of literacy tests, which prevented Black people from voting. In 1963, she sat in a whites-only bus station and was beaten, leaving her with life-long injuries including a blood clot in her eye.

She entered the national spotlight when she co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which fought the local democrats on voting rights. She also organized Freedom Summer, which was an event that brought students of all races together to help African-American students in the South register to vote.
Hamer was known for her eloquent and powerful speeches. Her most famous line, however, is, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Timeline photos 02/25/2023

Performer and choreographer changed the world of modern dance and of minority dancers through his contributions. Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. The multiracial dance troupe performed modern pieces, with the most notable ones being Ailey's "Blues Suite" and "Revelations," which touched on his Southern-grown childhood.

Timeline photos 02/24/2023

In 1939, became the first African American to win an Oscar for her role in Gone With the Wind.

She was banned from attending the film’s movie premiere because she was Black. In her acceptance speech, McDaniel said, ”…I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and the motion picture industry.”

Timeline photos 02/23/2023

was a postal employee who, after moving to Harlem, New York, in the 1930s, started compiling information on New York City establishments that safely served Black travelers.

In the introduction of the first 1936 edition, Green wrote, "There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal rights and privileges in the United States," according to The African American Registry.

Timeline photos 02/22/2023

Cycling is viewed mostly as a White sport. But one of the fastest men ever to race on two wheels was Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, an American who dominated sprint cycling in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

A hugely gifted rider, Taylor won the first amateur race he entered, at 14. He turned professional four years later and continued winning races, most of them sprints around oval tracks at Madison Square Garden and other arenas in the eastern US. Soon Taylor was competing in races across Europe and Australia, becoming the second Black athlete to win a world championship in any sport.

Timeline photos 02/21/2023

helped develop America’s first large-scale blood banking program in the 1940s, earning him accolades as “the father of the blood bank.”

Racial segregation limited the options for medical training for African Americans, leading Drew to attend med school at McGill University in Montréal. He then became the first Black student to earn a medical doctorate from Columbia University, where his interest in the science of blood transfusions led to groundbreaking work separating plasma from blood. This made it possible to store blood for a week – a huge breakthrough for doctors treating wounded soldiers in World War II.

Timeline photos 02/20/2023

is a pioneer in LGBTQIA+ rights and a self-identified drag queen.

Johnson played a major role in the historic Stonewall riots in 1969 that jump-started the gay liberation movement. Johnson was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and co-founded the radical activist group STAR.

Timeline photos 02/19/2023

was one of the first Black American women to be appointed as a police officer in the United States. A former governess, Robinson was a suffragette who worked tirelessly to make the world a better place for women and people of color.

During World War I, there was a shortage of men and she was recruited to work as a police officer in Los Angeles. Though she initially worked on a volunteer basis, three years later she was promoted to the rank of a full-time officer.

Timeline photos 02/18/2023

was the founder of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and co-anchored the ABC World News Tonight which made him the first African American news anchor for a broadcast network. Throughout his career, he was vocal about racism and the need to create more other opportunities for Black journalists, even at his own network.

Timeline photos 02/17/2023

was a brilliant young Black man who taught himself drafting while working in a law patent office. His talent was noted and he was promoted to draftsman. He subsequently worked on several of his own inventions including an air conditioner. He eventually helped patent the telephone for Bell and worked with Edison on the light bulb.

Timeline photos 02/16/2023

broke color barriers in the 1950s when she became the first African American prima ballerina with the Metropolitan Opera. This marked the first time a black artist had joined the permanent company.

At age of 15, Janet Collins was prepared to audition for Lèonide Massine and the De Basil Ballet Russe Company. Although she was accepted into the company, she declined the offer after being told that she would either need special roles created for her or dance in white face to disguise the fact that she was black. An upset Collins left the audition in tears and vowed to perfect her art so that race would not be an issue.

Timeline photos 02/15/2023

was a brilliant inventor credited for such inventions as a hair straightener, a “safety hood” that became the precursor of the gas masks used by soldiers in WWI and the stop light.

Morgan sold his traffic signal’s patent in 1923 to General Electric.

Timeline photos 02/14/2023

is the first Black and Cherokee woman to earn her pilot’s license. Two years before Amelia Earhart became a pilot, Coleman found a way to learn to fly even when flight schools in the U.S. wouldn’t accept her.

Coleman learned French, moved to Paris and enrolled in a prestigious aviation school.

Timeline photos 02/13/2023

is the first Black woman in the world to win a gold medal in the 1948 Summer Olympics in England.
King George VI personally presented her with her winning medal and her hometown of Albany, Georgia, threw a parade in her honor when she returned home. Still, racism marred that happy day when the event was segregated, and the mayor refused to shake her hand.

Coachman went on to become a teacher and established a foundation to give back to those in need.

Timeline photos 02/12/2023

was the founder of the Chicago Defender. The publication reported on issues important to the Black community including riots and lynchings and encouraged African Americans living under the Jim Crow laws of the South to make their way up north.

Many credit the Chicago Defender for paving the way for other prominent Black-focused publications such as Ebony and Essence.

Timeline photos 02/11/2023

was a brilliant and creative entrepreneur and despite the barriers in place for African Americans and women in general, managed to become one of the first female African-American self-made millionaires in our nation’s history.

She moved to California during the gold rush and found employment as a domestic worker where she was generally disregarded and treated like she was invisible by her employers. She used this to her advantage, listening in on their conversations and gathering tips on stocks and investments in real estate and gold and silver mines.

Timeline photos 02/10/2023

Expeditions tried to reach the North Pole for 18 years but were always unsuccessful due to the brutal cold and untamed conditions. , an African American explorer born to free sharecroppers accompanied Navy Lt Robert Peary on the first successful expedition.

In 1912, Henson published a book about his adventures, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, and went on to receive a Congressional medal and a Presidential Citation in 1950.

Timeline photos 02/09/2023

is the first Black American professional football player. Follis was a gifted athlete who played football in high school and joined an amateur league in college. In 1904, he signed on with the Shelby Athletic Club in Ohio to become the first professional Black football player.

Opposing players frequently went out of their way to injure him with excessively rough play and he was subjected by taunts and racial slurs from fans of other teams. An injury ended his football career and joined the Cuban Giants, a black baseball team.

Timeline photos 02/08/2023

was raised in poverty but went onto become one of the wealthiest and most influential women of her era. One of her first steps on her way to success was finding work as a sales agent for a product that was formulated to restore hair growth, this was important to Walker since she was experiencing hair loss herself. She believed black women should be financially independent and provided training and sales jobs for over 40,000 African American individuals. She eventually became a millionaire and paid if forward with contributions to the YMCA, scholarships for African American students, the NAACP, and more.

Timeline photos 02/07/2023

was the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Bunche was valedictorian of his class in both high school and college and went on to earn a doctorate in political science at Harvard University. He was a key participant in drafting and adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights alongside Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1947, his work with the United Nations led him to the daunting role of working on a team tasked with alleviating the Arab-Israeli conflict in Palestine. It was for this work he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.

Timeline photos 02/06/2023

In 1992, became the first Black woman in space as an astronaut on the second launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Jemison was successful at an early age, starting Stanford University when she was just 16 years old.

In 1981 she earned her Doctorate of Medicine from Cornell University. Afterward, she served two years in the Peace Corps.

Timeline photos 02/05/2023

was one of the most important and inspiring leaders in education, women’s rights and civil rights. Mcleod Bethune is known for creating Bethune Cookman College in 1929.

Timeline photos 02/04/2023

In 1939, was named the first Black woman judge in America. She’s also the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School and the first to gain admission to the New York City Bar.

Timeline photos 02/03/2023

was a photojournalist, musician, writer and film director known for breaking the “color line” in professional photography.

Timeline photos 02/02/2023

began her activism in the 1930s when she started advocating for voting rights after becoming one of the few African-American women registered to vote in Selma, Alabama.

Timeline photos 02/01/2023

, the “father of Black history,” set out in 1926 to designate a time to promote and educate people about Black history and culture.

Timeline photos 01/31/2023

In honor of Black History Month, Sweet Blackberry is highlighting 27 lesser-known historical figures and moments of African American achievement.
| Illustration Source: The Lily

Timeline photos 01/31/2023

Join Northern Kentucky University () and Founder, on Feb 27! Register now – NKU students register free!

Bessie Coleman Barbie inspires youth to look to the skies 01/31/2023

Celebrating ! This month, our founder had the pleasure of joining at an event in Brooklyn, honoring Bessie's legacy. Bessie Coleman's story of becoming the first Black and Cherokee woman to earn her pilot's license is just one of many untold stories in American history. Check out more here -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfP-xWuG7rI

Bessie Coleman Barbie inspires youth to look to the skies American Airlines and ® partnered together to honor the legacy of Bessie Coleman, the first Black and Native American woman to earn a pilot's license ...


Sweet Blackberry would like to send its condolences to the loved ones of former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw. Shaw was 82.

Shaw was CNN's first chief anchor and was with the network when it launched on June 1, 1980. He retired from CNN after more than 20 years on February 28, 2001.

During his storied career, Shaw reported on some of the biggest stories of that time -- including the student revolt in Tiananmen Square in May 1989, the First Gulf war live from Baghdad in 1991, and the 2000 presidential election.


This Sunday, join and as we continue to celebrate ‘s legacy.

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Videos (show all)

Watch the full clip of our author and actress @karynparsons discussing her latest children’s book #SavingTheDay on @abcg...
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Sweet Blackberry Founder  Karyn Parsons introduces her latest ...




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