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This is Forest, today I want to share a little about how I came to work with Freddie, the CEO of Urban Intellectuals and what a privilege it is for me to be a part of this family.
Urban Intellectuals has been around in some form for many many years, as Freddie told you all last week, Urban Intellectuals as a website took shape in 2009, now 9 years on and Urban Intellectuals’ journey is only just beginning.
I met Freddie around 2008, we crossed paths on a small skype group of people working online, trying to figure out this internet thing!
My background was in graphic design and although I was also fairly new to the online world, I was working on the technical side, learning code, building sites, helping new clients build their dreams.
Freddie and I started working together on various projects, he gave me advice and vice versa. Over the years we developed a mutual working relationship.
Then in 2015 Freddie asked me for a little-paid help with the UI site, there were a bunch of small things that needed fixing. Little-by-little I became more involved in the technical running of the site, the community too, and I helped Freddie keep on his mission to empower the Black community by providing spaces for open conversation.
Urban Intellectuals boomed, the community grew and grew, the website got more and more traffic, but it was chaotic, there was no real form or gathering of the community to one cause. Freddie knew that something was needed, that Urban Intellectuals needed to do something to make an impact. It needed a more concise mission and a product.
When Freddie first floated the idea of the Black History Flashcards and asked for my graphic design experience and input help to produce them, I was a little skeptical… “Kids, after all, are glued to screens, adults probably won’t be that interested either”, I thought.
But if any of you have met Freddie you will know, he is PASSIONATE and committed to helping the Black community. The flashcards were a simple realization that easy to digest, easy to share empowering physical products were missing.
We started work on the first deck of 52 cards, researching, considering who should be in the first general deck, how to present the info. We tested designs on direct family and friends in the community, we added and took profiles away, trying to represent a relatively good spread in all areas of Black history.
Then we put in cash, from our pockets, took a risk and sent to print! We ordered 500 decks, a HUGE amount that would take forever to sell (or so I thought, Freddie was more optimistic).
We decided we’d run a pre-order promotion to the Urban Intellectuals community.
50 decks old instantly, I was stunned! Then 60-70-100…… 500 went within a day! We needed to order more, the cards were a hit, Freddie was right, my cynicism was crushed.
It took a while to get the cards to people, by September 2016 the first decks were going out and that’s when the real realization of what we had produced hit home.
The feedback from parents, photos of smiling kids, stories of children going to school standing tall and challenging their teachers, challenging the mainstream narrative, fighting the status quo.
Stories of adults too, carrying the cards in their bag, ready to lay them down and lay down the knowledge at any point.
The cards were more than just a deck of pictures and info, they were and are a way to make the Black community know that no matter what the mainstream narrative says, no matter how White supremacy tries to push Black people down that Black people have and always will be great. That every Black child can stand tall knowing their ancestors are carrying them on their shoulders.
The Black community stands on the shoulders of giants.
Being a part of this journey is my privilege and my honor. I know Urban Intellectuals, led by Freddie Taylor, will NOT lay down and will NOT relent on its mission to empower the global Black community.
Stand tall fam and make this and every day count.
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.