It was in the stillness of the early stages of COVID-19 isolation that UNC alumna Sakari Milan began sharing unknown Black history through the eyes of a 10-year-old African American time traveler named Camelia B.
In Milan’s children’s book series, "The Tales of Camelia B.," readers learn about Black historical figures that have been hidden, altered or otherwise erased from history books.
“It is a guided journey that aims to inspire and empower children of all backgrounds focusing on K-5,” Milan said. “The series aims to correct the misrepresentations and hidden facts in history by celebrating the extraordinary contributions and achievements of Black heroes around the world.”
Her inspiration to launch the series came from a reflection of her frustrations with the narrow and altered teachings of Black history.
“I have always felt a growing need to learn more about my heritage and history due to the inadequate and inaccurate representation of Black history throughout my education,” Milan said. “Beginning in elementary school, I wanted to know more about my ancestors – the lack of information in the education curriculum saddened me and left me feeling void.”
Milan decided to retell this erased history of Black legends and heroes to impressionable children who are in the early stages of forming their identity and awareness of the world around them.
“I choose to put an end to the cycle through children’s eyes because that’s where we begin, by enlightening and awakening the children, Milan said. “I was very intentional about choosing the K-5 age group because my mission is to reach kids during their crucial developmental ages.”
Jamirious Mooney, a junior studying human development and family studies, and education, said from a childhood development perspective, this decision to start with children is imperative to their identity development.
“It allows Black children to start to imagine, it allows Black children to start to dream, especially at that young age, where imagination is a huge part of identity development,” Mooney said.