History Matters

History Matters is a series of on-going episodes that highlight and depict moments, places and events of historical significance in the African American experience over the last 400 years. It is hosted by Saniya Gay, the National Student Ambassador for the 400 Years of African American History Commission and former inaugural National Ms. Juneteenth.

Episode 1: Fort Monroe

Coastal Virginia’s Fort Monroe is where the first enslaved Africans landed in what would later become the United States of America. The Fort is also where they later found refuge after escaping from their captors. The region is also where emancipated freed people established schools and where several Historical Black Colleges and Universities were founded. This episode of History Matters takes us through the legacy of this remarkable center of African American history.

Episode 2: Nicodemus, Kansas

Nicodemus, Kansas was founded by newly freed enslaved people in 1877. It was the first black settlement west of the Mississippi River, and is the only predominant black community west of the Mississippi that remains a living community. 

Episode 3: STEMulating History and the Future

Taped on location at the Frederick Douglass National Historic site in Washington DC, this film connects the journey of Freedom seekers who escaped enslavement and used the stars to navigate their path to freedom with the journey of those whose pursuits led them to careers that undoubtedly surpassed the dreams of those early freedom seekers. General Charles Bolden, former Director Of NASA; Robert Stanton, the First African American Director of the National Park Service; Dr. Rex Ellis, Assoc. Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and Dr. Jeannette Epps NASA Astronaut.

Episode 4: Juneteenth

 On Monday, June 19, join us and learn about the untold stories of the roles Black freedom fighters played in their own liberation in this special episode of History Matters on Juneteenth, “Freedom Forward Trail.” We’ll take you through underground railroad sites protected by the National Park Service, including Maryland’s B&O Railroad museum and Virginia’s Fort Monroe, both pivotal locations for enslaved people fighting for their freedom. Hosted by National Student Ambassador Saniya Gay, the episode features Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” who successfully advocated for the national federal Juneteenth holiday and spearheads efforts to build a national Juneteenth museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Episode 5: Take a Stand to Keep a Seat


“Take a Stand to Keep a Seat” is about young people’s involvement in the civil rights movement, to educate and encourage them to take a stand and fight for what they believe in. This episode of History Matters looks at the 1958 Dockum Sit-ins to protest the segregation policies at the Dockum drug store in Wichita, KS which not only succeeded, but also started a chain of similar acts. We also discuss the Morgan Stage College (today University) led protests in Baltimore, MD for equitable funding and desegregation in theaters and lunch counters. The episode features interviews with Dr. V.P. Franklin, author of the Young Crusaders, Courtland Cox, SNCC Legacy Project, the The McDonough 3 (Leona Tate, Gail Etienne and Tessie Prevost) that integrated New Orleans schools, Tre Murphy, Baltimore activist and organizer during the Freddie Gray protests and today with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and D’atra Jackson National Director of BYP100.