In the mid-1990s, at the dawn of the Information Age, when many were concerned that the lack of awareness and participation in this new world by communities of color would create a Digital Divide, Ken Granderson had an idea. He was one of a handful of black entrepreneurs in the industry, and was committed to helping make this new reality more accessible to communities of color by creating computer technologies that featured people of color, created by people of color.
So for Black History Month 1997, following previous Black History Month technology projects that digitized the Boston Public Library’s book chronicling 350 years of Black Boston History, and launched web sites for Boston’s predominantly black communities, in 1997, Ken collaborated with his friend and fellow black technology entrepreneur Dale Dowdie, and starting with a small public domain listing of about 3 thousand entries, launched BlackFacts.com as the Internet’s first data-driven Black History web site, which was powered by technology built by black engineers, and populated by teachers and history buffs throughout the US and several other countries.
Today, BlackFacts.com has been online continuously for over 20 years, and through the web and email, has served millions and millions of Black Facts to millions of visitors and subscribers. The original 3,000 Black Facts has grown to over 26,000, and using natural language processing technology, Black Facts are linked to each other based on their subject matter. By leveraging social media, today BlackFacts is sharing its Black Fact Of The Day™ to a growing audience of Facebook likers and Twitter followers of 80,000 (and another 30,000 email followers) and growing. The current social media reach of our Black Fact-of-the-day posts is in the 100s of Millions with 150-250k reached each week.
Originally, our primary demographic has been students looking to research facts and information for Black History month. In fact, Black History Month remains one of our busiest times of the year where we have hundreds of thousands of visitors. We recognized the value that we have been able to provide to education and planned to expand that knowledge to a broader audience. We hope that by making the information accessible and providing a “one-stop” place for knowledge, we can Inform, Engage and Inspire the next generations of youth to follow.
However, while BlackFacts.com originally highlighted the heroes of our past, for 2018 we want to focus on highlighting the talented professionals of our present – Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Authors, etc. The evolution of the site has moved it towards being a platform to showcase diversity and the skills and talents of a diverse community. We have plans to showcase and to recommend products, services, books, scholarships, jobs, internships, museums and schools – all topics and content that would be of interest to our diverse demographic and the corporations that want to highlight their diversity and share their programs and jobs/Internships that target a diverse market.
On Feb 1st, 2018 we are rolling out the #BlackFacts365 campaign with Twitter and the Twitter @BlackBirds. The tagline for this campaign is “Because Black History is not just in February”. We are extremely excited about this collaboration as we think it will expand our Fact-Of-The-Day reach to 2-5 million people per week and further our mission exponentially.
In addition we are partnering with the Museum of African American History in Boston to publish their content on our site and working with a few school districts to kick of our Student Black History Fact Instagram Video contest. Expansion plans are in the works for radio, podcasts and an addition of a diversity training series. In addition, we hope to continue to add challenging and engaging content to give our visitors something to take with them when they leave.
Ultimately, we would like BlackFacts.com to evolve into a platform for organizations and individuals to learn more about diversity and the values of diversity. Our dream is to empower minorities at all levels to highlight their skills and abilities alongside the achievements and heroes of the past. We believe that only through knowledge of our past can we successfully plan and achieve greatness in the future.
Learn Black History. Teach Black History.
Our social media identities are as follows:.
- www.facebook.com/blackfacts (@blackfacts)
- www.twitter.com/blackfacts (@blackfacts)
- www.instagram.com/blackfactsonline (@blackfactsonline)
- Black History Month: Building a Legacy – by Dale Dowdie - February 1, 2018