Dedicated to Sister Jacquelyn Lee

Growing up in Brooklyn, I attended Saint Ann’s, a small independent school in Brooklyn Heights.  Like most small independent schools, Saint Ann’s had a predominantly white student body, and in addition to a predominately white student body, it had just two black teachers. Mrs. Lee was one of them.

Mrs. Jacquelyn (Jackie) Lee, had three children in St Ann’s, and she created a black studies course that pretty much all of the black students attended.

My home life was totally apolitical.  While the adults I came into contact with through my parents were almost exclusively black, as was my neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, at home, blackness was never discussed, but simply taken for granted as a core aspect of our identity, and other than going to see plays when I was about 6 or 8, at home I was rarely exposed to black literature, history or other culture.

It was Mrs. Lee who introduced me to Ralph Ellison, Maya Angelou and Malcolm X.  It was Mrs. Lee who took us to see ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’  It was Mrs. Lee who introduced me to the world of black cultural artistry.  Tragically, Mrs. Lee left us far too soon in 1976, but those who knew her know that the seeds of black excellence she planted in her children and students have sprouted outstanding fruits that have surely earned her a special place among the Ancestors. 

Black Facts Online is another fruit of the seeds she planted, although it did not sprout until twenty years after her transition.  When I conceived the idea of using the Internet to help young people of color and others discover more about our history and cultures, I was hoping to be able to do for others what Mrs. Lee did for me - to hear our stories from our own hands and lips, to see our histories presented in this new media, to learn more about the richness and the struggle, the diversity and the universality of the black experience, and to do it in a way that would be easy to consume and freely available to anyone, anywhere, if they could just make it to the Internet.

So in the names of all of our great griots and teachers across the centuries and the seas,  but most notably  in appreciation of the seeds of black knowledge planted in a young mind, and watered by a committed, sincere and unassuming teacher, I dedicate this work, my personal contribution to the ongoing work to help ‘uplift the race,’ to Sister Jackie Lee, my  Black Studies teacher, who had no idea of the good she did during her time here on Earth, nor the many ways the good she did would pay itself forward across the years since left us, and forward into the years to come.

Thank you Sister Jackie, for sparking an interest in history in this nerdy little black boy by introducing me to heroes and sheroes who looked like me. Yes, it worked.

– Ken Granderson

“I know that the freedoms and opportunities I take for granted were paid for by the blood of millions who have preceded me, and that I am just one link in a chain that stretches into forever in both directions.

I have benefited greatly from this chain, and I have no right to break it.”

– Ken Granderson

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