I grew up watching Beulah, Amos and Andy, The Nat King Cole Show, I Spy, and Julia. The first television program's main character was an African-American cook; the second program mentioned contained less than mature-acting African-American characters; the third program had a talented African American whose show could not garner a single sponsor. The 4th and 5th programs were the only ones with African-American major characters.
So, it was not until the mid-60s that many African-American children saw TV programs with characters that looked like them and showed characters who were in professions they may wish to pursue. At least I know this applied to me.
"Didn't black folks do anything?"
Then, to add to my experience growing up, there were no books that had any mention about African-American poets, writers, inventors, or educators. There was only one picture and one paragraph in a thick history book that showed children slaves, who "happily played" as the book had written.
I recalled returning home from school lamenting, "Mommy, didn't black folks do anything??" She assured me they did. She took me to a local library where I found a book that had pictures and biographies of African Americans like George Washington Carver, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Hank Aaron, to name a few. Wow! I was enlightened. If it had not been for that book, my ignorance would have remained if I had depended on the books provided in school.
At a young age, I knew I would do all I could to make certain that there would be many books available for African-American students, as a matter of fact, for all students. Just as many fellow African-American students, as well as students of different races in grade school and high school, grew up with books that only showed one race, Caucasian. The TV programs reflected pretty much the same racial content. In some way, I was determined to make things different for all children and adults.
And many years later, I began a traditional textbook publishing company (Robbie Dean Press, L.L.C. in 1991) and a non-traditional publishing (MarketingNewAuthors.com [MANA] in 2002). The beginnings of both companies are stories in themselves, one that I may share some time in the future.
Diverse Publications By Diverse Writers
I have been able to fulfill my desire to make it possible for many to experience the words of African-American and other Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow peoples. Now, authors of Robbie Dean Press provide texts that have writers of different racial backgrounds and have content that reflects the diversity of its readers.
Books on the MANA site represent writers of different ethnicities. My companies do not focus on one race; they provide publications that represent a wide audience of readers.
I have the ability to showcase writers of different races and "disAbilities." And it is during Black History Month that MANA makes a call for writers of different ethnicities and physical and mental challenges.
MANA encourages readers of this post to visit the MANA website (www.marketingnewauthors.com) and answer the call for minority and marginalized writers and poets to submit their work. My desire is that no child, teen, or adult will ever have to ask a parent, "Have we done anything?"
The diverse publications by a diverse number of authors can answer to all readers, "Yes, we all have! And MANA has the books on its site to prove it!"