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 9: Moving Classroom

This episode, hosted by National Student Ambassadors Saniya Gay and Tybre Faw, includes highlights from visits to historic sites in Alabama as well as interviews with two women who were children when they participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March that ended at the Edmund Pettus Bridge that came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

Episode 7: African American Fallen Heroes

African Americans have participated in all wars in this country, starting with the American Revolution. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for a country that didn’t fully accept them. This program pays tributes to some unknown African American Fallen Heroes.

Episode 8: A Tribute to African Americans in the Military

In spite of the racism they faced at home and abroad, African Americans continued to answer the call to serve and protect this country. “A Tribute to African Americans in the Military” is a special History Matters presentation that honors those brave veterans.

Episode 5: Black Coal Miners of Appalachia

When you hear about Coal Miners, you seldom think about African Americans’ role working in the coal mines in the 1930s and up until today. You’ll hear about this from Dr. William Turner, whose father was a coal miner. He is the author of The Harlan Renaissance and introduces us to some former miners who are now struggling with Black Lung disease.

Episode 6: Take a Stand to Keep a Seat

Young people have always been at the forefront of movements for change, including during the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s and, of course, during the Black Lives Matter movement. This episode looks at the impact young people have and can have and includes interviews with Courland Cox, Chair of the SNCC Legacy Project.

Episode 3: STEMulating History and the Future

This program consists of interviews with African Americans who have played a role in STEM. Astronaut Jeanette Epps; General Charles Bolden, the first African American head of NASA; Dr. Rex Ellis, one of the founders of the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and Robert Stanton, the first African American Head of the National Park Service.

Episode 4: Juneteenth

Learn about the untold stories of the roles Black Freedom fighters played in their own liberation. Also meet 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, TX.

Episode 1: Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe, VA, is the site of the landing of the first kidnapped Africans in 1619 in the English colonies. It also became the site of Freedom Fortress when three young men were considered contraband after seeking asylum at the Fort during the Civil War, causing thousands of enslaved Africans to run to the Fort for their freedom.

Episode 2: Nicodemus, Kansas

Nicodemus, KS, is one of the first black settlements in the Midwest of the formerly enslaved. Descendants and others make an annual trek to celebrate this historic landmark, and National Student Ambassador and National Miss Juneteenth, Saniya Gay, participated in the celebration.