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Animated short on Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to become a pilot.
Animated short on Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to become a pilot.
Animated short on Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to become a pilot.
641 backers pledged $60,144 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

The Bessie Coleman Story, presented by Sweet Blackberry project video thumbnail
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The Bessie Coleman Story, presented by Sweet Blackberry

$60,144

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Hi! I'm Karyn Parsons. I played Hilary Banks on the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I am the founder of Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning organization whose mission is to bring little-known stories of African-American achievement to kids. 

Sweet Blackberry's mission is to share stories that empower and instill a sense of pride in children. Previous films by Sweet Blackberry have received the prestigious Parent’s Choice Award and Learning Magazine’s Teacher’s Choice Awards, among others. They were narrated by noted actors Chris Rock, Alfre Woodard and Queen Latifah. All films are currently available to stream on Netflix and have been distributed to libraries and schools all over the world and have made a difference!

 

 Sweet Blackberry is currently developing its fourth animated short sharing the inspiring story of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot. 

 

Bessie grew up during a time where aviation schools in the United States would not let her learn to fly because she was a woman and she was Black. Without letting this prevent her from accomplishing her dream, Bessie taught herself, French, moved to France and earned her license from the renowned Caudron Brothers School of Aviation. 

 

Bessie Coleman's story shows children that despite what odds may be stacked against them, they can be anything. Bessie broke a glass ceiling in the United States that limited individuals wanting to be a pilot to one race and gender. It is our duty at Sweet Blackberry to share her story with the world. 

 

Bessie's story belongs to all of us. We need collaborators to create a 20-minute, animated film bringing Bessie's inspiring story to screens everywhere. Together, we will make a 20-minute, animated film, to be narrated by award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne.  This inspiring story will be distributed to libraries and schools, broadcast to a wide audience, and enjoyed in homes across the country. 

 

Celebrated children's book illustrator R. Gregory Christie (who has worked with the New Yorker and New York Times, as well as in over 50 books) has signed on to create the look of the film (including the great illustrations above).

In addition, there are the important touches: title design; sound, mixing and music clearances; an actor, extras, equipment and all the other things needed to shoot a live action sequence; post production and an editor; as well as digital mastery so the project is ready to land in a classroom, on TV or in a home.

Sweet Blackberry is a 501c3, non-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible. We hope you, too, will become a part of the Sweet Blackberry family, and help get these stories out!

Thanks so much for taking the time, and thanks in advance for your support.            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                

 

  

 

Spend the afternoon with Hilary and Ashley Banks! Pledge items include the opportunity to spend an afternoon shopping and having lunch with Karyn and Tatyana! 

http://www.sweetblackberry.org

Risks and challenges

The only real risk is NOT making our goal. In that event, we will be unable to produce this important story and get it in schools, libraries, and homes across the country. We really need to harness all the enthusiasm and support for Sweet Blackberry and its mission that we’ve received over the years, and channel it into funding to make this film!

There really are no foreseeable risks once we have attained funding, except perhaps, our narrator’s schedule changing on us, but as we are not a studio with loads of other productions lined up, we have a lot of flexibility.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Social Supporter (Pledge $5+)

    Be Featured On Our Thank You Wall! Thank you so much for your support. Your name will be featured on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall.

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    Heart Supporter (Pledge $10+)

    Watch The Bessie Coleman Story! Thanks, so much for your support. Receive a thank you postcard, a digital download and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall.

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    Community Supporter (Pledge $20+)

    Receive The Bessie Coleman Tote Bag!
    In addition to this reward, you will receive a digital download of the Bessie Coleman film, a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Kickstarter Gold Supporter ($25+)

    This special reward level is for our community members who also supported our Janet Collins project!* You will receive a copy of the Janet Collins DVD and Bessie Coleman digital download along with one (1) Janet Collins tote, a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

    *Backers will be verified through our previous Kickstarter campaign.

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    Bring Bessie To You! (Schools & Parents)

    Receive the Bessie Coleman digital download and curriculum lesson as well as cool activities for school-aged children (crossword puzzle, diy project, coloring page)

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    Rainbow Me Kids Subscription!

    RECEIVE 5-MONTHS of RAINBOW ME KIDS AND A BESSIE COLEMAN DIGITAL DOWNLOAD! Rainbow Me Kids is a digital platform that allows parents to pick from a wide variety of cartoons and shows that represent kids of ALL COLOR! Check out their site at rainbowmekids.com

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    Auntie Reading by R. Gregory Christie

    16x20 print with archival inks on museum quality paper. This comes with a digital download of the Bessie Coleman animation.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Young Janet Print By R. Gregory Christie

    16x20 print with archival inks on museum quality paper. This comes with a digital download of the Bessie Coleman animation.

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    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Rosa Print By R. Gregory Christie

    16x20 print with archival inks on museum quality paper. This comes with a digital download of the Bessie Coleman animation.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Boy & Girl Print By R. Gregory Christie

    16x20 print with archival inks on museum quality paper. This comes with a digital download of the Bessie Coleman animation.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    California Playtime Print

    By R. Gregory Christie. 16x20 print with archival inks on museum quality paper. This comes with a digital download of the Bessie Coleman animation.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Janet Wind Print By R. Gregory Christie

    16x20 print with archival inks on museum quality paper. This comes with a digital download of the Bessie Coleman animation.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Bessie Coleman Tote (Pledge $45)

    BESSIE COLEMAN STORY TOTE BAG! Receive the DVD as well as a tote bag with an illustration from the Bessie Coleman Sweet Blackberry video. Also get the thank you postcard, Janet Collins DVD and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Star Supporter (Pledge $50+)

    Sweet Blackberry T-SHIRT!
    Get a beautiful t-shirt featuring an illustration by R. Gregory Christie as well as a copy of the Bessie Coleman DVD. You will also receive a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Netflix & Chill w/The Cast

    BE A PART OF IT! Vote on your Fav Fresh Prince episode and get access a live feed of an exclusive screening in Los Angeles where the winning episode will be screened and Cast members will answer ALL YOUR TRIVIA QUESTIONS AND PUT TO REST ANY BEHIND THE SCENES RUMORS YOU MAY HAVE STARTED!

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    Autographed Poster of Karyn Parsons!

    YOUR NAME, YOUR CHOICE ON A POSTER! Receive a custom-signed by KARYN PARSONS poster and a digital download of the Bessie Coleman animation. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Sweet Blackberry Series! (Pledge $75)

    DVD ANTHOLOGY! Get DVDs for all four Sweet Blackberry videos including the one featuring Bessie Coleman. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Autographed Bessie T-Shirt & Movie

    CUSTOM SIGNED Bessie Coleman T-SHIRT! Get a beautiful t-shirt featuring an R. Gregory Christie illustration, signed by Karyn Parsons with the message of your choice as well as a copy of the Bessie Coleman DVD. Receive a thank you postcard, a digital download and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall

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    Bronze Supporter (Pledge $100+)

    Autographed DVD! Receive the DVD for The Bessie Coleman Story signed by Karyn Parsons. You will also receive one (1) ticket to the Bessie Coleman screening, one (1) Sweet Blackberry t-shirt and your name featured on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall.

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    The Hilary Package!

    HILARY MAKES GOOD! SIGNED KARYN PARSONS PHOTO AND DVD ANTHOLOGY! Get DVDs for all four Sweet Blackberry videos including the one featuring Bessie Coleman as well as a signed photograph from founder Karyn Parsons. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    SIGNED COPY OF MISTY COPELAND'S BOOK

    SIGNED COPY OF MISTY COPELAND'S LATEST BOOK, BALLERINA BODY. Get the inspirational book, signed by Misty herself as well as a DVD of the Bessie Coleman story!

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    Day at Dance Theatre of Harlem!

    Invitation to come watch the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company rehearse live in studio, along with a tour of Dance Theatre of Harlem’s historic facility and a bag of goodies!
    (Transportation/accommodation to NYC not included)

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    DVD Anthology & Signed Tote Bag!

    DVD ANTHOLOGY AND CUSTOM KARYN PARSONS SIGNED TOTE BAG! Get DVDs for all three Sweet Blackberry videos including the one featuring Bessie Coleman as well as the tote bag with an R. Gregory Christie illustration of Bessie signed by founder Karyn Parsons with your choice of message (up to 150 characters!). You also receive the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Carlton Voicemail Message!

    CARLTON VOICEMAIL MESSAGE! Have the coolest "Hello you've reached…" message around. Alfonso Ribeiro (aka Carlton on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) will record up to a 15 second long message for you—within good taste and reason. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Black History Lessons For Educators

    Receive the digital download to all four Sweet Blackberry films for your CLASSROOM, COMMUNITY CENTER or HOME! Each film will accompany a lesson plan and fun projects to do with your students! You also receive the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Questlove Autographer Drumsticks

    QUESTLOVE'S DRUMSTICKS! Get a pair of drumsticks signed by the Roots band member and Sweet Blackberry supporter Questlove. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Premiere Screening Invitation

    PREMIERE SCREENING INVITATION! Pair of tickets to the premiere screening for the Bessie Coleman animation--a celebration with plenty of Sweet Blackberry family and friends! (Transportation/accommodation to NYC not included)

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    Silver Supporter (Pledge $200+)

    See You at the Screening! You will receive two (2) tickets to the Bessie Coleman screening, DVDs for The Bessie Coleman Story and Dancing In The Light: The Janet Collins Story signed by Karyn Parsons, two (2) Sweet Blackberry t-shirts and your name featured on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Fresh Prince Loves You (Pledge $200+)

    Signed Photo Of Will Smith and The Cast of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!" The cast will come together to sign a custom 8x10 photograph to you or someone you love. You will also receive a digital download of The Bessie Coleman Story!

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    Misty Copeland Pointe Shoes!

    MISTY COPELAND SIGNED POINTE SHOES !!! Misty is the first African-American soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and a longtime supporter of Sweet Blackberry. Get a pair of pointe shoes she has signed and the Bessie Coleman DVD! Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Put Hilary To Work!

    PUT HILARY TO WORK!
    I'll record your personalized, outgoing voicemail message! Your choice: as Hilary, or myself!

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    Tickets To America's Funniest Home Video

    Join Alfonso Ribeiro (AKA CARLTON) in the audience of his latest show, America's Funniest Home Video! Two (2) tickets! You will also receive a DVD of our Bessie Coleman Film! (Transportation/accommodation not included)

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    Animation Workshop w/Pixar Animator!

    Frank Abney has worked on Pixar's latest film, "Coco," and Academy Award winning films, "Frozen," and "Big Hero 6." Get a walk through of how to animate through this live online workshop which includes a 4 hr demonstration and lecture. Or, if you're already animating, get your work reviewed!

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    VIP Tickets to Dance Theatre of Harlem!

    Receive two VIP tickets to Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Season Performance at New York City Center. VIP tickets include exclusive access to City Center’s VIP lounge and the opportunity to meet Dance Theatre of Harlem Company dancers backstage!
    (Transportation/accommodation to NYC not included)

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    Janet Collins Gold Supporter ($300+)

    Receive an autographed pair of ballet shoes once belonging to American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland! This special reward level is for our community members who also supported our Janet Collins project!* You will also receive a copy of the Janet Collins DVD and Bessie Coleman digital download along with one (1) Janet Collins tote, a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

    *Backers will be verified through our previous Kickstarter campaign.

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    Premiere Screening & After Party

    PREMIERE SCREENING AND AFTER-PARTY!
    Get a pair (2) of tickets to the premiere screening for the Bessie Coleman animation as well as two invites to our after-party--a celebration with plenty of Sweet Blackberry family and friends! (Transportation/accommodation to event not included)

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    Questlove Ludwig Pocket Kit Drum Set

    Questlove did it again! Our favorite musician donated a drum kit from his latest line. You will also receive a thank you postcard and your name on our donor wall!

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    Will Smith Voicemail (Pledge $400)

    Will Smith Outgoing Voicemail - WILL SMITH VOICEMAILS! Hello, you've reached the Prince of Bel-Air! Will Smith will record you a 15 second voicemail message. You choose what he says, within reason, of course. Also get a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Platinum Supporter (Pledge $500+)

    Your Name In The Credits of Bessie's Film! You will receive the DVD of all four (4) Sweet Blackberry films including The Bessie Coleman Story signed by Karyn Parsons, four (4) tickets to the Bessie Coleman screening, two (2) Sweet Blackberry t-shirts and your name featured in the "thank you" credits for the film and on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Watch The Fresh Prince & Chill w/Cast

    " DADDY CAN I HAVE $500 DOLLARS?"
    WATCH THE FRESH PRINCE, WITH THE FRESH PRINCE CAST! Vote on favorite episode of the Fresh Prince and GET TWO TICKETS to attend a screening plus Q&A with at least THREE members of the Fresh Prince cast. Have your FP trivia questions answered in person! (Transportation and accommodations not included)

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    Moderate A Fresh Prince Panel

    Be a guest moderator, you and a guest watch the winning Fresh Prince episode at an exclusive screening in Los Angeles then, co-moderate the cast in a Q&A and get a question or two of your own answered. Immortalize the moment with a signed photo of you and members of the cast to boot! (Transportation and accommodations not included)

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    Diamond Supporter (Pledge $1,000+)

    Be featured in the film! Our animator will draw a cartoon version of you or a loved one to be featured in the film. You will also receive the DVD of all four (4) Sweet Blackberry films including The Bessie Coleman Story signed by Karyn Parsons, four (4) tickets to the Bessie Coleman screening, two (2) Sweet Blackberry t-shirts and your name featured in the "thank you" credits for the film and on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Have Karyn Visit Your School

    VISIT FROM KARYN PARSONS! Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons will drop by your classroom, birthday party, or event of your choice and lead a DVD viewing, discussion and hands-on project. Choose between the inspirational stories of Henry Box Brown, Garrett Morgan, Janet Collins or Bessie Coleman. (Must provide transportation and accommodations)

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    Young Bessie Original Art

    Receive original artwork from the film by award winning artist, R. Gregory Christie! This 8x8 illustration of young Bessie Coleman will also come with a digital download of the Bessie film and second film of YOUR choice! Acryla gouache on acid-free illustration board.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Flapper Auntie Original Art

    Receive original artwork from the Sweet Blackberry's Garrett's Gift by award winning artist, R. Gregory Christie! This 6x6.5 illustration of Garrett's "Flapper Auntie" will also come with a digital download or DVD (supporter's choice) of both the Garrett and Bessie films! Acryla gouache on acid-free illustration board.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Chill in Bel-Air!

    "CHILL IN BEL AIR", WATCH THE FRESH PRINCE, WITH THE FRESH PRINCE CAST IN A PRIVATE SETTING! Choose an episode of the Fresh Prince and we'll host a screening for you and up to 8 guests in Los Angeles. At least 3 members of the cast will attend! (Does not include travel and accommodations)

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    Bessie's Plane Original Art

    Receive original artwork from the film by award winning artist, R. Gregory Christie! This 9x12 illustration of Bessie's plane will also come with a digital download of the Bessie film! Acryla gouache on acid-free illustration board.

    Includes:
    • Name on Sweet Blackberry Thank You Wall!
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    Shopping Spree w/Hilary and Ashley

    ALWAYS WANTED HILARY BANKS'S MAD STYLE? Take a shopping trip with Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons and Fresh Prince actress Tatyana Ali on a shopping trip. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall! (Only available in LA or NYC, transportation, accommodation and shopping money not included.)

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    Blackberry Supporter (Pledge $3,000+)

    Be listed as an Associate Producer! You will also receive the DVD of all four (4) Sweet Blackberry films including The Bessie Coleman Story signed by Karyn Parsons, four (4) tickets to the Bessie Coleman screening, two (2) Sweet Blackberry t-shirts and you will be listed as an associate producer of the Bessie Colman film! You'll also join sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    Garrett's Lesson Original Art

    Receive original artwork from the Sweet Blackberry's Garrett's Gift by award winning artist, R. Gregory Christie! This 12.75x10.25 illustration of Garrett's lesson will also come with a digital download or DVD (supporter's choice) of both the Garrett and Bessie films! Acryla gouache on acid-free illustration board.

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    Dine w/Will Smith and Cast!

    LUNCH WITH WILL SMITH AND THE FRESH PRINCE CAST AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT! Join Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons, Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Tatyana Ali for lunch in Los Angeles! (Transportation and accommodations not included) You'll also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    All In Package!

    TOP BANANA
    Be the one who does it all. Get all of the T-shirts, DVD's, posters, premiere screenings, signage and after parties your heart desires (within reason)!
    AND be the VERY FIRST "PRESENTS" credit at the top of the film.

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Funding period

- (30 days)