Celebrate Black History 365 with the I Am Black History Box

During the month of February people of color intentionally celebrate and learn about their rich story. However, the creators of The HBCU Summit series, decided that simply isn’t enough. Mr. Brandon Miller, a Howard University alum and elementary school educator in Englewood, California, curated the I AM Black History Box. This box was originally designed as a keepsake for participants of the HBCU Summit Series.  It entails items specifically to encourage children and adults of color to take pride in who they are as black people making history daily.

The box includes a long-sleeved black T-shirt with I Am Black History scribed boldly in the center of it, a stylish I Am Black History button, a pen, a copy of You Belong at a Black College book (more details about it below), and an I Am Black History calendar. Oh, did I mention that all items come in an all-black box with a vibrant picture of Mother Africa centered in the word BLACK? In an exclusive interview with Mr. Brandon Miller, we discussed the motivation behind the products and the importance of African-American children acquiring knowledge of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Take a look below at some of the fabulous information exchanged in this interview.

Chicago Defender: What prompted you to curate the “I Am Black History” Box?

Brandon Miller: My wife began having HBCU tours in 2010. When the pandemic started we found that we still needed ways to create awareness of and promote HBCU’s which led us to our first event in 2020, the HBCU Summit Series. We created the “I Am Black History Box” as a keepsake from the event. We sat down and concluded that a lot of kids don’t know what they don’t know. Being a teacher, I know that across the nation a lot of people give Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and on the occasion Ruby Bridges recognition, but what a lot of people don’t know how in-depth black history is. The connection between most of these historical figures that are important to black America and American history are also products of HBCU’s. So, we wanted to create a program that allowed us to highlight this and the box was just a way to give participants keepsakes that allowed them to take pride in who they are as a part of Black History and to feel more a part of the program.

Chicago Defender: One of the items in the “I Am Black History” box is the book, You Belong at an HBCU. Tell us a little about it.

Brandon Miller: The message of the book is that all black students should strive to go to an HBCU if they can. It’s also centered around information that people may not know about HBCU’s and it dispels a lot of the myths out there about them. It talks about how students of color truly belong at HBCU’s and how they prepare you for real world success.

Chicago Defender: What was your experience like while attending Howard University and did it have any influence for you creating the “I Am Black History Box?

Brandon Miller: Howard changed my entire life. I frequently tell my students the story of how I got accepted. I believe I got into Howard on accident. As a teenager I was cleaning my room, and I found an application and had no idea how it got there. I applied knowing I didn’t have the best GPA but somehow, I still got in. Honestly speaking, nothing better could have happened to my life than going to Howard. If I hadn’t gone there I wouldn’t have the drive to work with students to make sure they attend HBCU’s. Everything about Howard influenced the I Am Black History Box.

Chicago Defender: What prompted the HBCU Summit Series, and what all does it entail?

Brandon Miller: We host an HBCU college fair in the city of Long Beach. It was a free event where students could come and learn about HBCU’s. If seniors attended and brought their paperwork (transcripts) they would meet with recruiters and were accepted on the spot. We needed a way to continue spreading the news about HBCU’s and get students this information without the ability to meet in person, and that’s how the HBCU Summit Series came to be.  The virtual college fair was designed for four weekends where each weekend had a different set of schools for students to tour virtually. Instead of doing one event we decided to break it up into a series over multiple weekends because we realized that students can only talk to so many recruiters at a time. We wanted to make sure there were a variety of schools for students to learn about.

Chicago Defender: What is your overall mission?

Brandon Miller: The overall mission is to help improve the state of our young people. These last few years have been extremely hard on black communities, but no generation has ever had to deal with harsh realities up front due to the influence of social media. We wanted to create a feeling of protection through the different workshops we have. We want the youth to know that there are people who care about them and there are people willing to pour into them. Most importantly we want them to know that they are people who possess greatness.

To secure your own “I Am Black History Box” visit https://hbcusummitseries.com. The entire box or individual items can be purchased year-round.

Liz Lampkin is a Lifestyle, Love and Relationships writer. Follow her on social media @Liz_Lampkin.

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