BlackFacts: Ken Granderson’s Ongoing Mission To Preserve Black History Through Utilizing Technology
"At BlackFacts, we say we are on a mission from our ancestors to protect the future of Black history by using technology that we created, control, and own,” said Granderson.
Ken Granderson, the CEO of BlackFacts.com, recently spoke at this year’s FUTURE:ADY Conference in Harlem, an annual event that prepares and strengthens future ready communities through technology and innovation. Founded in 1997 by MIT alumnus Granderson, BlackFacts became the world’s first Black history search engine. 25 years later, the monumental website now houses over 700,000 historical and news articles, and features more than 800 original black history videos.
Much of Black history has been buried and silenced since the beginning of civilization due to factors such as colonization, slavery, and racial oppression. Today’s current climate has resulted in a damaging push to cease the teaching of Black history and marginalized groups within academic settings, with important books on critical race theory being wrongfully banned. However, Granderson knows that a solution and reversal of this censorship is available through BlackFacts, which sits powerfully in the palm of our hands.
In the late nineties, Granderson created BlackFacts as a way to make the new and emerging World Wide Web more relevant for Black audiences. In 2017, Granderson and his business partner Dale Dowdie enhanced BlackFacts by building a custom content management engine that automates, organizes, and pushes out relevant material to multiple audiences through the use of AI. Called Timbuktu, the AI engine can also create other sites like BlackFacts based on ethnicity, profession, religion, or any other identity element that connects people.
On Juneteenth in 2020, Wakanda News was implemented on the site. This significant feature pulls global news headlines from 200 predominately Black online publications and 35 countries, and sends visitors to the original source to receive the full story. For Kwanzaa 2020, Granderson and Dowdie began making original Black history videos, with series such as Black Women in Herstory, Caribbean Revolutionaries, Legends in Black Music, and more. With the Black Facts Minute series, for instance, daily automated videos highlight a Black history event that occurred on that specific day. Underneath the featured video are fact cards, which reveal a collection of other Black history events that also happened on that day. “That’s the power of Timbuktu,” said Granderson.”It weaves a tapestry of linked Black history articles that provide a literally endless web of information about the events and achievements of Black people across the time and the world.”
As the largest online Black history resource, BlackFacts is now expanding to cover other marginalized communities. Episodes for a new series have recently been produced in dedication to Native American icons, and research is being done for a future series about history makers with disabilities. More future plans include adding the ability for BlackFacts subscribers to submit and write their own articles.
“This is not a job, a project, or a venture. We know that the doors of opportunity that we strolled through to develop the skills we had today were forced open by those who came before us, often at an ultimate price. So we feel this is our sacred duty to do our part to keep those doors open,” said Granderson. “At Blackfacts, we say we are on a mission from our ancestors to protect the future of Black history by using technology that we created, control, and own.”
Learn more by visiting BlackFacts.com. Below, watch Granderson’s full speech at Harlem’s FUTURE:ADY Conference.