Blakfacts Educational Research, Inc., a 501 c3 corporation, will begin its 1st fundraising campaign on GoFundMe.com beginning on November 1st, 2017 through November 31st, 2017. Our goal is to raise $35,000 in order to take Ohio’s Black Athletes, our 1st multimedia production to the next level, which will include videotaping interviews of featured individuals, the creation of slideshows for those who cannot be interviewed, and the production and distribution of thousands of books to be distributed at no cost to children all over the state of Ohio.
This project began 10 years ago with a request from a local elementary school principal to create some original, culturally relevant materials for his school. Stewart Africentric was the only public school in Akron, Ohio with an African centered curriculum. At the time of the original request they had been in operation for about 7 years.
The idea was to create books for their annual Black Academic Challenge contest, which was held for about 4 years, during Black History Month, with schools from all over the district and even some outside of the district. We originally envisioned creating books on local African American religious leaders, athletes, business people, politicians and entertainers. I decided to start with athletes, because my initial research indicated there weren’t very many of them, so I could complete it in a couple of months and move on. This turned out to be very inaccurate.
After researching African American athletes from Akron and beyond I’ve learned a few things. Number one, there are a lot more notable athletes from Akron/NE Ohio than I could have imagined. Number two, an athletic career is typically not a lifelong avocation, therefore many politicians, religious leaders, business people, etc. are very likely to have played sports in their younger days. In documenting this one aspect of African American life I’ve been able to document much of the history of African Americans in the area.
My primary resources were Dr. Shirla McClain, the Akron Beacon Journal working library, as well as the libraries of Kent State, Summit County, Stow Munroe Falls and Case Western Reserve Historic Society Archives. Most people don’t usually credit Amazon.com as a resource, but they have been an invaluable resource in tracking down books that could not be found in local libraries or archival collections.
The project has been expanded, over the years, from focusing on elementary school books, to include a college edition. Our newest addition, is a series of collectible trading cards, featuring 15 athletes who made a name for themselves playing sports in Ohio; as well as Dr. Shirla McClain, who documented The Contributions of Blacks in Akron, 1825-1975. Featured athletes will include the likes of Paul Robeson, Moses Fleetwood Walker, LeBron James, Nate Thurmond, Rev. Ronald Fowler, William Suddeth, Gus Johnson, Renee Powell and Billy Ray Thunder.
Our goal is to inspire the youth to excel in sports, as they learn how to turn athletic success into success in life. Many of the youth of today are focused like a laser beam on athletics, while academic excellence is looked upon as something foreign. This project seeks to set the record straight by showing the connection between the two.
This project has been self-funded up to this point. Now we’re asking the public to chip in with charitable donations.