This story originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
You may have heard of Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall and Coretta Scott King but what about Bessie Coleman, Matthew Henson or Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba? If these names don’t sound familiar that may be because these are not the names that often come up in history classes or as Black History facts. Award-Winning Storyteller Sofiya Ballin wants to shine a light on the characters and events of Black history that often get ignored.
“It was always the same four or five figures. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, are all prolific and important figures, I will never deny that. But there’s so much more to our history that has happened and is happening now. There are so many stories that go untold,” Ballin says.
Ballin was lucky enough to be exposed to different and uncommon sources for Black history growing up, and acknowledges that not every kid gets that same exposure.
“I lived in a household where Black history was a huge part of my background. And I knew a lot about my Black history, Black American history, and also Black world history. When I started going to that school that was predominantly white I began to realize how education, how Black history education was treated, and how it was taught. And I realized the consequences of not being taught your entire history, not having a comprehensive history and realizing that it impacted how a lot of Black kids saw themselves or, or their community,” says the storyteller.
Ballin’s “Black History Untold” explores the importance of a comprehensive Black history education through personal essays. Her latest installment, “Revolution” premieres at the Museum of the American Revolution’s “History After Hours” event on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
“We have always seen value within ourselves and always had pride in who we are as a people and as a community. We have to refer to that in these times and refer to that again. That’s why I wanted to do this project,” Ballin says. “People are dying for a revolution, in theory, in this series, we tackle some of those consequences. The consequences that come with revolution, whether it’s literally dying, whether it’s losing a job, the pain that comes with it, but also the joy that comes with it, the love that comes along with revolution. We tackle all of those things, and we tackle whether or not it’s worth it, and why it’s worth it. So I’m really excited for people just to see it and come out.”