As Black History month comes to an end, Black History 365, an educational entity that is using a combination of African-American history and music, is making it their mission to create inclusive conversations about American history all-year-long.
Although February has been recognized by the United States as an annual celebration of African American’s achievements throughout the nation, the shortest month of the year isn’t nearly long enough to capture the essence of everything that we are. This is why BH 365 created a U.S. history textbook and curriculum, developed by Dr. Walter Milton Jr. and Dr. Joel Freeman, to document the unique stories of Black persons, groups, and cultures in North America, beginning in Ancient Africa continuing to modern events and movements. Dr. Milton Jr., who previously served as a teacher and school principal, said it was important for them to begin the book in Ancient Africa because they want people to know that Black history doesn’t start at slavery.
“We have history that people have never heard of before. We don’t talk about Africa in the current geopolitical situations that the oppressor or those who colonized us talk about.” said Dr. Milton Jr. “We talk about the kingdoms and made the connection, how we are truly connected to kings and queens.”
In addition to telling the rich history of African Americans, the co-authors wanted to find a creative way to make the book more engaging. In an effort to artfully evoke images that challenge the mind, awake the soul, and chronicle the history of Black people from ancient Africa through modern times, they reached out to Grammy-nominated producer Dr. Kevin “Khao” Cates to produce Black History 365 The Album. Khao, who also has an educational non-profit organization of his own said the most challenging part of creating the album was finding a way to take a painful part of Black history and create a beat that offsets and balances the pain so you can still jam and learn the information at the same time.
“Out of 42 records and two volumes, I wanted it to be where nothing sounded the same. So you could just go through and jam through a variety of different feels that also fit what we’re talking about,” said Khao.
Both the two-volume album and the textbook have seen positive feedback from school systems and families. BH 365 The Album debuted at the top 10 on iTunes and Amazon Music in the U.S. They’ve also created a campaign called #BetOnBlack365Challenge, where listeners are posting that they’ve “bet on black” and have been listening to the album.
“It’s really been cool seeing people coming together. Because our goal was definitely to be able to have one of the top-selling albums and top the charts during black history month, with the themes of our African American culture and history,” said Khao.
The textbook, which comes in a Texas version (to follow the state’s “TEKS” standards) and a U.S. version is currently in schools across the nation. According to Dr. Milton, the book is being used in cities throughout Texas; and some cities in Illinois, Kentucky, Colorado, and some universities, including Moorehouse. Although the book is designed to be taught in school, BHM 365, said the book is for adults too.
“Our goal is to touch every school district across the nation, with the textbook and the music. As well as, every home, especially black homes throughout this country,” said Dr. Milton.