After the eye-opening events of 2020 spurring civil unrest and movement comparable to that of the 1960s, learning and celebrating Black History has never been more important. After realizing that the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic indirectly created a new space for virtual learning, Shy Averett, the Global Sr. Community Program and Events Manager for Microsoft, created The Legacy Project.
This initiative strives to lead the world in re-envisioning Black History’s narrative to shine a bright light on the outstanding accomplishments that African Americans have made in the past but are continuing to make right now. The Legacy Project honors 30 African Americans who have made history during the last century and the last few years. This game-changing virtual, digital museum includes people like Victor Glover, NASA astronaut, Nikole Hannah-Jones (1619 Project), Danita Johnson (First Black President in Major League Soccer) and Jason Wright(First African American President of an NFL team), to name a few.
Spearheading the project with the tech power and influence of Microsoft behind her, Shy managed to create an exhibit that’s the first of its kind, capable of highlighting and virtually transporting 13 of the world’s top Black History Museum exhibits into every student’s home or classroom across North America. This partnership with museums, historical landmarks, cultural centers, athletes, and civic influencers worldwide includes a month-long series of FREE immersive and interactive experiences for K-12 schools and their communities to celebrate and learn how extensive and rich Black History and culture truly is. Following Black History Month, the Legacy Project will remain up. Schools, youth programs, and families can click the link to enroll in the program.
“Black History month is a time for us to emphasize the rich heritage and culture of black people as well as spotlight historical events and figures in the black community, but it doesn’t have to stop there. The goal is to create something that will last forever, showing Black History lives every day. We plan on building on it, expanding it. I’m already talking to a designer about further development, so any student, even if they don’t get to look at it now, if it’s a month from now or even if it’s December, will have this resource”, says Shy when asked whether or not the exhibit will only be available for Black History Month.
With an interface designed to be user-friendly, Sky’s vision for the Legacy Project is an educational initiative for all ages, reminding users that Black History shouldn’t just be celebrated in February but all year long. Between 4,289 classes, schools, and organizations, the project has already amassed almost half a million users that will get to experience the struggle for life & liberty for all at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights while safely at home in front of their devices, as well as reading sessions of inspirational children’s stories about Black History like Hidden Figures & Let the Children March, with books read aloud by some of our favorite NBA & NFL players for K-2nd graders. Other key activities highlighted within the project experience include:
· Walking with MLK virtually & fighting for civil rights in the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches of 1965
· Stepping back into the Civil Rights Era to witness the struggle for life & liberty for all at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
· Learning about policies that impacted Black communities & Muhammad Ali’s fight against systemic racism at the Ali Center’s “Truth Be Told” exhibit
· Flying through the eyes of WWII’s Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black military aviators in the US Army Air Corps at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
· Hitting a home run with Satchel Paige & Jackie Robinson at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
· Retracing Slavery from Enslavement to Emancipation – Ft. Monroe, Whitney Plantation, and Milton House – Tour Fort Monroe where the first Africans entered the country, explore the Whitney Plantation & see how Slaves lived & walk through the Milton House’s secret passageways of the Underground Railroad
· Exploring the legacy of the African Americans in the US military at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
· Traveling back in time with a fireside chat with Freedom Rider Hezekiah Watkins to protest social injustice & racial inequality & tour the Freedom Rides Museum
· Taking a virtual scavenger hunt through George Washington Carver’s most noted inventions at the Carver Museum
· Celebrating today’s groundbreaking African American changemakers who are leading the world right now at Microsoft’s Current Day Black History Museum
· Listening to and learning about the origins of Black Music & Music of the Civil Rights Movement with the GRAMMY Museum & many more. For more information, visit www.aka.ms/BHM-legacy.