This February, as Black History Month is celebrated across the United States, the Disney|ABC Television Group (DATG) is using the power of storytelling to cultivate kids’ deeper interest in history and inspire them to feel their own significance in the present and future. Through a series of interstitials presented as part of DATG’s “Be Inspired” initiative, a range of programs built on the belief that everyone can make a difference, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior are sharing stories about distinguished men and women—trailblazers—who may serve as inspiration for the next generation.
“As television programmers, we work every day to better serve our kid viewers by reflecting the diverse and varied world they live in, and our ‘Be Inspired’ programming is designed to give them access to stories that can spark their deeper exploration into the rich and celebrated history of African Americans,” Paul DeBenedittis, senior vice president, Programming Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide, said.
The initiative kicked off with the February 1 debut of “True Heroes are Timeless,” an interstitial geared toward kids ages 6–14, which tells the story of African American pilot Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson, Sr., who served as the Chief Civilian Flight Instructor for the Tuskegee Airman and is revered as the “Father of Black Aviation.” Taye Shuayb, director of production, Digital and Client Services, Disney Corporate Creative Resources, and Communications Committee Lead for Disney’s Black Employee Resource Group, discovered Chief Anderson’s story and knew it would resonate with Disney audiences. Shuayb said, “I was inspired by Chief Anderson’s strength and determination. He didn’t consider himself a hero, nor did he aspire to be ‘The First…’ Chief Anderson followed his passion and didn’t let others put limits on what he knew he could achieve.”
Billy Hicks, writer and producer, Disney XD Marketing and Creative, shared, “As a writer/producer, it’s always rewarding when I can tell stories that are culturally relevant and can not only entertain, but can inspire and enlighten audiences. It was an honor to produce the Chief Anderson interstitial because his journey, along with the Tuskegee Airmen, is truly an amazing story and it embodies the kind of values that audiences can learn and grow from, for years to come.”
Doc McStuffins, the beloved title character from Disney Junior’s animated series, is introducing younger viewers (ages 2–7) to notable women and men in a series of interstitials airing on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Pilot Stephanie R. Grant, who led the first all-female African-American flight crew to operate a commercial airliner; Disney Legend Floyd Norman, one of the first African-American animators at Walt Disney Studios during the 1950s; and Dr. Myiesha Taylor, an emergency doctor and founder of the Artemis Medical Society, an organization comprised of more than 4,700 women physicians of color from around the world—and which was inspired by Doc McStuffins—will be profiled during the initiative.
When Black History Month concludes, the spots—and their inspiring messages—will live on. “Doc McStuffins is a character who has touched so many kids’ lives and made an impact on how they see the world, so we loved the idea of having Doc introduce these notable women and men who are pioneers in their respective fields,” Stephanie Long, creative director, Disney Junior Marketing & Creative, said. “We are hoping our young viewers will be inspired by seeing these everyday heroes who are making a difference in their world. These timeless, real-life stories will premiere during Black History Month and we are excited that they will then continue to air on Disney Channel and Disney Junior all year long.”