Karyn Parsons Is Telling The Stories Of Little-Known Black Icons

By Zahara Hill, huffingtonpost.com

Karen Parsons. Photo by Santiago Felipe via Getty Images

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” actress Karyn Parsons has come quite a ways since she was pardoning herself for being so attractive as a self-obsessed Hilary Banks.

But these days, she has a thing or two to teach us about black history.

In 2005, Parsons founded Sweet Blackberry, an organization that creates short animated films that present the stories of lesser-known black history figures. The films are played in libraries and schools nationwide, and can be streamed on Netflix….

She said the idea for Sweet Blackberry stemmed from learning about Henry “Box” Brown from her mother. Brown was a former slave who mailed his way to freedom by hiding in a box to be shipped from Virginia to Philadelphia.

“I couldn’t get over the fact that I never heard that story,” she said.

Parsons said in addition to not being able to get Brown’s legacy off her mind, she was pregnant with her first child and began to think about the knowledge she’d pass on to her daughter….

Of course, Sweet Blackberry’s first animated short would be “The Journey of Henry ‘Box’ Brown,” narrated by Alfre Woodard. The film was met with rave reviews and even earned a Parent’s Choice award….

″[Black history] gives you a sense of strength ― knowing what people were able to do before you. I think of people like Bessie Coleman and it makes me feel stronger. I think of [Bessie’s] perseverance and what she was able to do,” Parsons said.

“A lot of us don’t have too many generations that we know about to go back to and call upon for the strength that we might be able to benefit from. And these people can be that,” she said.

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