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About

True First Series

Legends of African Descent and Their Untold Stories.

A people’s history that leaves no person of African descent behind.

History is the weaving of stories into the fabric of who we are as a people and a nation. We like to mark our journey with books, monuments, awards and commemorative plaques, setting in stone and ink the list of our collective achievements. Yet history is also written in the spaces between the mortar, the gaps that are left by those who decide how to structure the past. Until very recently, the gatekeepers who chose what to memorialize were almost exclusively men. And they were invariably white.

The True First project is a rescue effort. It is a passionate attempt to resurrect the men and women of African descent who were swept aside by the broad brush of history. These are the innovators, visionaries and creative minds that came before the people now credited with their accomplishments. They are also the leaders who were the first to break through the color barrier or reach milestones that had always been the exclusive domain of white privilege. The first African-American to be hired by the postal service, the mother of rock ‘n roll, the first Black man to run for President of the United States, the first Black Deputy Marshall. True leaders. True firsts.

This docudrama series sets the record straight. We’ve looked at what everyone else has taken for granted and turned it on it’s head. We’re finding people of African descent who have been erased from the historic record and what we’ve uncovered is genuinely fascinating.

True First is itself a true first. Each episode explores the life of a forgotten trailblazer of African descent who made an early and significant contribution to their craft or profession. Athletes, entertainers, pioneers and politicians all feature in a historical saga that spans from the birth of nations to the firsts of the new millennium. From the Wild West to Washington, their untold stories are at times heartbreaking, often astonishing, and always inspirational.

Mission

The True First series brings the achievements of men and women of African descent into the mainstream of our historical narrative. Its mission is to inspire, motivate and engage viewers in the untold stories of Black lives that changed the course of history. By setting the record straight, True First restores a more inclusive chronicle of the women and men who built our social, political and cultural institutions.

Vision

True First envisions a comprehensive accounting of the contribution that pioneers of African descent have made to the panoply of human achievement. Former slaves, political leaders, philanthropists and musicians are showcased in stories as varied as the lives they recount. By reviving these often-forgotten True Firsts, we can imagine a world where all innovators can claim their rightful place among the dreamers, artists and singular minds who have made us who we are – regardless of race, ancestry, gender or creed.

Food for thought...

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

Rosa Parks

A few of our episodes...

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin Like many African American performers, the Queen of Soul began her singing career in church where her father was a Baptist minister. Over...READ MORE

Season Six
Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman As the child of Texas sharecroppers, Bessie Coleman had to walk four miles to her segregated school every day, never dreaming of the...READ MORE

Season Two
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano This former slave was sold to European slave-traders when he was 11 years old and shipped to Barbados before ending up on a...READ MORE

Season Six
Sir William Arthur Lewis
Sir William Arthur Lewis

Sir William Arthur Lewis This prominent economist was born in Saint Lucia when it was still part of what were known as the British Windward...READ MORE

Season Seven
View our entire list of episodes.

Crew

Meet the creative minds behind the scenes of True First

Paul Wilson Jr
Producer & Director
Darryl Tookes
Composer & Music Director
Julie Arnold
Field Director
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Talent

Meet the faces that tell the stories of True First

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