Tendai Kumire – Black History, and it’s Excellence

Tendai ‘Loretta’ Kumire

Project Summary

My communication senior project topic is near and dear to me because it is apart of who I am. I was intentional in making sure I highlight more on this subject. The material below will be a window into learning more about African American history and why I am proud of all the achievements Black people have made over the decades.

African American History has been a part of this great nation, undoubtedly some would argue what makes this nation wonderful is its diversity. However, what does diversity mean when it comes to Black History?. What are some parts of Black History that resonate with us?


Project Introduction

It could be the music, art, sports, civil rights, and many more examples of the excellence that is Black history and its people. Black people have been making history throughout the decades, and this project was to highlight a portion of the richness of Black excellence.

Goal and Intention

History is about learning the past, and how it can affect the future. It allows us to make better decisions. I am fascinated by stories of anyone and everyone I meet.

I am a believer in storytelling, and how the experiences of others are what society and the world. One of my mentors once said, “Until you hear someone’s story, only then can you love them.” That can be said about the historical figures we hold in reverence.

I live by the principle of always doing nothing without intention. This project was a joy to work on, and more so gave me an appreciation of the versatility of Blackness, its excellence, joy and power.

Nina Simone and James Baldwin (circa 1960)

If you could ask me to name one book by Mr. Baldwin, I will give you at least 10. James Baldwin was an African American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet and activist.

His words though penned during the heart of the civil rights era, seem to this day, ahead of their time.

In numerous essays, novels, plays and public speeches, the eloquent voice of James Baldwin spoke of the pain and struggle of black Americans and the saving power of brotherhood.

James Baldwin created works of literary beauty and depth that will remain essential parts of the American canon. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/james-baldwin-about-the-author/59/

There is a quote I love from one of James Baldwin’s books ‘The Fire Next Time’, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”

James Baldwin book, ‘The Fire Next Time’ (photo taken by Tendai)

Often times, I read this book again as a reminder of how love can truly help us to take off the masks, whichever they are, to give space for vulnerability and service to others.

I spent time visiting the museums showcasing African American history. One such is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, located in Washington D.C. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/national-museum-of-african-american-history-and-culture

This museum holds over hundreds of different kinds of Black history from decade to decade. It is large in stature, overlooking the National Monument, and is always a hive of activity. I could safely say, this museum is one of my favorites.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (photo by Tendai Kumire)
Tendai, standing in front of former first lady ‘Michelle Obama’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery’

The National Portrait gallery is a close second, spending time inside those walls helped me understand some important people who have contributed to American history.

What does Black History and its Excellence, mean to you?

I interviewed a few friends from different walks of life on what Black History means to them, as well as what they would like to see change in terms of society learning from African American history.

“What I love about Black history is that it recognizes the unique stories of Black Americans. The best picture is a complete picture and Black history works to contribute important voices to the collective historical narrative. I love Black history because it celebrates my Black brothers and sisters and their role in history.

The biggest thing I think the country can do to celebrate Black history is recognize that Black history is everyone’s history. It’s something that should unite every American we should approach it as such.”

Evan Dean 24 (North Carolina)

Rosa Parks and Shirley Chisolm, (photo by Tendai)

“What I love about Black history is reading about Black people’s resilience. I love knowing that individually and collectively we inspire. Black excellence looks like love, it looks like patience, it looks like healthy self-care, it looks like putting yourself first.

Fredericka Thomas 24 (Richmond, Virginia)

Rosa Parks with Girl Scouts (photo by Tendai)

“Black history is all about embracing our culture and everything that makes us unique. It is about remembering where we came from, the struggles our ancestors faced and the power we hold. I feel that Black history should be celebrated every single day and not only in February. Black history should be incorporated into the school curriculum every where in the world so that the rising generation can be educated.”

Comfort Azuonwu 22, (Nigeria)

“Won’t it be wonderful when Black history and native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou in her home. (photo taken by Tendai in museum)

“The civil rights movement need to be taught in schools as being as important as the American revolution. Black History must be taught as its own genre but also naturally incorporated into traditionally ‘white-washed history’ such as the world wars, economic. Social religious histories etc. It needs to overlap.”

I remember learning about Steve Biko as a child and I remembered being affected deeply.

“I think Black music is fascinating. All the different genres developed and how they reflect social history. It’s a way you can hear the emotion, anguish and soul of what it means to be Black in the America.”

Elizabeth Mawlam 39, (England)

Mural of Marvin Gaye, Washington D.C. (photo by Tendai)

“I have always felt like Black history should play a more important role in my life. A few years ago we used to have celebrations with friends on the day Nelson Mandela’s release date or on Nigerian Independence day. However, recently I actually didn’t know that much about Black History, like it had never been a serious part of my life until I started becoming a bit more proactive in my education.

I guess I would like to see a more proactive approach in education and see more inclusion in history GCSE’s levels, because it is something that I think is incredible and I wish I had the chance to learn about it sooner.

One of my favourite people from Black History is Madam CJ Walker, who despite facing so much opposition, still continued to do amazing things and she helped so many people in the face of horrendous racial bias.”

Miah Angir 18, (England)

Tendai, standing by the former first lady Michelle Obama’s portrait. ‘National Portrait Gallery’

“Black history is important and when its celebrated I feel seen, heard, and acknowledged. It makes me feel like Black people have equally contributed to this country’s success despite the challenges we had to overcome. It makes me feel proud when I see Black excellence and makes me want to do more, so I too can experience Black excellence. It makes me hopeful for the future and for my future kids.”

Adhieu Arok 26, (America/South Sudan)

“I love seeing the creativity that’s been brought to life by our people. I love that it shows the positives and accomplishments rather than just the pains and afflictions Black people had to endure.”

Gbemisola Latifa 26, (Nigerian American)

“I’m interested in the lives of Black folk as the subject. Not the predicate, not the tangent. These stories deserve to be told — not as sociology, not as spectacle, not as a singular event that happens every so often – but regularly and purposefully as truth and as art on an ongoing basis.”

Ava DuVernay, (American Filmmaker)
BYU-Idaho students at Rexburg Juneteenth Celebration, circa 2020. (photo taken by Tendai)

“Black Americans have shaped and perfected the course of American history and it has always been them who have been responsible for when America has ever lived up to ideas.”

Peter Lopez 26, (Latino American)

Black Author books, (photo taken by Tendai)

Where to Start

When I look at the achievements of Black people in this country, I continue to be amazed. Black history brought with it, food, Jazz, Hip Hop, Poetry, Sports, Film, and so many more influences surrounding us.

However, there is a lot of information to go through, and that can be overwhelming. I started with just reading books by Black authors. Their stories, perspectives and experiences allowed me to look beyond the pain and heartache, despite it being part of that history.

I welcomed the uncomfortable parts of history, and chose to see how those circumstances brought with it a sense of pride, resilience, and excellence that is Black History.


Racial and Economic topics: https://eji.org/

Arts and Culture: https://artsandculture.google.com/project/black-history-and-culture

Film and Documentaries: http://www.arraynow.com/

In conclusion, Black History is our history, the African American experience has become my experience.

I am privileged to be living at a time were there is so much Black excellence, from Simone Biles, Bryan Stevenson, Amanda Gorman, Ava DuVernay, and so many more.

Living in this wonderful country reminds me of Langston Hughes poem, ‘I too Sing, America’. I too, am part of something excellent, and I hope my light will continue to shine, so those behind me can feel of its brilliance.


Project Timeline


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