The majority of responses to TikToker Taylor Cassidy’s video on Martin Luther King Jr. start with “I had no idea” or “I didn’t know that.”
Cassidy, who has over 2 million followers, hosts a Fast Black History series on the platform where they dive into Black historical figures and cultural moments that, as Cassidy put it in a caption, “you did NOT learn in school.”
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“I’ve always loved learning Black history, and all through my childhood, my family put a large focus on learning it because they knew it was minimally taught in schools,” Cassidy, 18, told In The Know. “I made the first ‘Fast Black History’ video on my bedroom floor in about half an hour and posted it the next day.”
Their video on King talks about his education, the fact that he’s won a Grammy and how he inspired Stevie Wonder to write “Happy Birthday.”
“Today, we honor King for all the work he did for social justice,” Cassidy said in the video.
“Yesss, this is the kind of content we love,” one of Cassidy’s followers wrote. “Always here for the stories that should make it to the mainstream but haven’t.”
“I receive messages all the time about how people wished more was taught in the classroom and how they learn more on TikTok than they do in school,” they said. “I also have received messages from students thanking me for inspiring them to fight for more Black history to be taught in their own school.”
“I have a large focus on Black history and uplifting Black creatives on my platform, but I still love having fun with my audience,” they explained. “It’s important to me that my followers and I have a connection and know I care about them in addition to the information I give them through the series I have.”
What Cassidy didn’t anticipate was how impactful their videos would be for some people. They said the majority of the feedback they get on their videos has been positive and supportive, which encouraged them to create more series on Black culture, including Black Girl Magic Minute.
“You were the first person that taught me Black history, and since then, I started doing my homework, and I’m glad I did,” one commenter wrote.
“When I saw this comment, I was immediately taken back to when I was starting to appreciate my mom’s lessons on Black History [for me] as a young girl,” Cassidy said. “I realized that I was in some ways someone else’s teacher, and I had the ability to share the fire I have for learning about the roots and foundations of Black history.”
It was comments like those that inspired Cassidy to also share their resources with their followers and emphasize the importance of voting.
“I think the easiest way to introduce yourself to learning more Black history is to start with mini-series, shows and movies that accurately show the lives of Black figures and historic events,” Cassidy added. “Podcasts like Uncivil, The Nod and 1619 are also extremely great places to start.”
But what Cassidy especially wants to instill in their audience is the ability to critically think about Black history and culture — especially when Cassidy has seen misinformation on TikTok before.
“ I’ve even had to correct myself in history videos I’ve uploaded in the past,” they said.
In another video, Cassidy breaks down in the simplest terms why educating yourself on Black history — outside of school — is so important.
“History may be in the past, but our strength is forever,” they wrote in the video. “I speak in past tense, but all these ideas are STILL happening. STILL present. And STILL are being fought against. Don’t be blind to that.”
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