Black History Beats

February 25, 2019

Black History Beats: Now is the Time!
Every child who grew up singing the songs from Schoolhouse Rock knows the power of music to teach history. Now change the genre to hip hop and add some fresh animations, and you can envision the idea for Black History Beats. Better yet, you can find this new video animation airing nationally on PBS and playing on both Youtube and Vimeo.

Created by Animation alumni, Josh Bullock, Black History Beats is a project aimed to educate about black history subjects that many may not have known about. “I was volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in Fort Wayne on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and asked the kids to raise their hands if they knew the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. Nobody raised their hands,” shared Josh. “These were middle school and high school kids! That experience is really what launched the idea for this project.”

The animation begins with two African American children watching a video with their classmates, when they are taken back in time to 1963 on a bus headed to see the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. The two children witness the segregation and protest marches first hand, following directly behind MLK. The phrase “Now is the Time!” jumps out as Dr. King walks us through the adversity ahead of him.

The Music
“Hip hop was envisioned from the original idea, because it would resonates with kids, especially kids in the black community,” shared Josh. Once he mapped out the storyline for Black History Beats, Josh put a call out on Facebook to create powerful music that would resonate with kids. Music Technology alumni, Kibwe Cooper, was one of the first to respond. “Kibwe and I had previously worked on projects together at Saint Francis, and I knew he was the perfect person to partner with.”

Working with USF Students
“The USF students were amazing!” exclaimed Bullock, without hesitation. There were seven current USF animation students who helped rolled out the final Black History Beats project, in just under a year. They worked all summer and had meetings every Monday.

Matt White, Program Director of Animation at USF, had reached out to Josh when he first started freelance work to see if he had any ideas about internship opportunities for his students.

“Josh is an example of what USF alumni are all about,” shared Matt. “He thinks and acts big, yet keeps his heart in the community. Of course I would call him right away! As a role model and artist, he is who my students should inspire to be. This animation program has been blessed with a committed community of students and alumni. Black History Beats shows this and I look forward to working with Josh in the future.”