Building Our Own Table: Michael Jefferson
Meet the founder of Gravy Design L.L.C and the creator of theUNSEEYN.
Hello friends, one of the things I most enjoy about this newsletter - and this series in particular - is meeting people doing great things. Michael Jefferson is one of those people, bringing Black history and Black heroes to life through his company Gravy Design and theUNSEEYN project. Please meet Michael…
Michael, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Gravy Design and creating theUNSEEYN.
I am an award-winning motion graphic designer and I initially started my company for additional income as a freelance designer. One of my clients (a church) wanted to spotlight several Black heroes during Black History Month. It took off and I ended up creating these spotlights for several years for that client.
Later, I decided that the idea of spotlighting these individuals was a great learning resource but also they provided great benefits in DEI and leadership training. So I decided to upgrade the effort into a digital downloadable product that could be seen in churches, schools, libraries, workplaces and trainings. Being a digital product allows for it to be visible on phones, tablets and computers as well. Now it is time to get this product in the hands of those that need it and can use it.
How do you promote theUNSEEYN?
I first ask someone how they feel about diversity, equity, inclusion and if they believe that these factors add to the value, culture, and morale of a workspace, classroom or leadership management style. Secondly, I state that my product is a step in that direction. I propose that Black representation and historical education is key to DEI in all areas. Lastly, I ask if they plan to take action to switch from symbolic and performative actions toward DEI to real action that centers around the actual work of spotlighting Black heroes and what could be learned from their life experiences and leadership styles.
Tell me about theUNSEEYN in more detail?
Spotlighting Black historical heroes is only the beginning but was the initial focus due to the recent and significant events of racial inequity that we witnessed in the past three years. Once profitable, funds will be used to expand the offerings into the multiple race, class and intersectionality that need representation. Expanding content and paying those in the know to initiate their own representation will become first priority and the funds will pay to hire professional writers, educators, marketing and etc.
My company will continue to create the motion graphic design while bringing in freelancers and specialists to help create the visuals but with different directors and storytellers from representatives from different nationalities, cultures and intersections to tell their stories.
What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?
First, I want to spotlight Black heroes. There is a lack of education on what contributions that have been made by Black people in America and a level of resistance to the telling of this history.
That resistance permeates every room including the classroom, boardroom and the courtroom where each room represents every area of a life. The classroom represents the learning age of adolescents, while the boardroom represents the professional life of a successful educational path. Finally, the courtroom exist to protect or to guard against those who have rights and those who have no rights.
My aim is to use a product like this to educate, uplift and inspire those that see it. To empower with truth and to motivate the powerless to know that there has always been an uphill battle but the answers and tools have been laid out for use by those who came before us.
How’s it going? What has the response been?
The support and encouragement has been amazing. I have had plenty of motivation to continue this great work. I continue to make partnerships with the aim of DEI cultural celebrations, classroom curriculums and leadership training.
What’s next for your Gravy Design and theUNSEEYN?
February 2023 is coming and I am gearing up for a marketing push starting the second half of November 2022 until 2023. My hope is to get this in the hands of every church service, classroom educator and DEI specialists for Black History Month.
In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
I don’t believe racism is going anywhere because it is engraved in the history of America. What I do envision is economic power and growth for the Black community. While creating this digital product I have been able to learn about Madam C. J. Walker and her entrepreneurial spirit and what she was able to accomplish, but not just her, many other Black heroes that established a name for themselves in the sciences and arts. They have created amazing inventions and patents that have changed not just their lives but the lives of everyone in America.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.
I am an anti-racism writer, educator and activist, Co-Founder of Diverse Leaders Group, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast. If you value my perspective, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription.