The Challenge. In 2013, almost 6,000 hate crimes were reported, out of biases against gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity; almost half were racially motivated (2013 FBI Hate Crimes Statistics report). Also that year, nearly 1 in 3 students (27.8%) reported being bullied during the school year for their looks, body shape or race (National Center for Educational Statistics). Social media compounds the problem, sparking international rage among racial and cultural groups. Different generations and cultures see each other’s speech, music, dress, and demeanor not as expression but as insult—or even threat. Can we transform this divisiveness into inclusion? Can we value and celebrate these differences? Can America’s youth be empowered to become agents of change?

Yes, They Can!


Stories of Change.

From bedtime stories to Aesop’s Fables, stories have the power to teach, guide and inspire changes in our society. America is made up of storytellers and they all have something to contribute. From Sojourner Truth, who believed that women should have a voice and a vote, to the students who changed the world using nonviolent protest during the Civil Rights Movement, stories are the fabric of our nation’s history. And stories that are inclusive help children see themselves as being part of the greater American story.

The Black Quilted Narratives: Diverse Voices Transforming American Culture, History and Values (BQN) is a program created by the National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) to foster understanding and acceptance, inclusion, and racial healing through culturally responsive teaching. This multifaceted Culturally Responsive Instruction program is targeted to 5th – 12 grade teachers. BQN includes professional development and diversity training for teachers, curriculum support materials and external support to help teachers build skills in culturally responsive teaching and civil rights history. Teachers learn how to connect the stories of the Civil Rights Movement with culturally responsive teaching to foster conversations about social justice and racial healing.

The BQN curriculum support resources for teachers include lesson plans, mini-documentary style “webisodes” and other oral history video clips, books, articles, photos and other primary resources, and teacher supports. These resources are designed to enable teachers to help their students see the relevance of the Civil Rights Movement—and other African American history stories—in their own lives. After viewing excerpts from NVLP’s collection of video oral histories with African American elders, and other primary sources, students will see a more holistic picture of American history, a picture that values the contributions of African Americans, and a world in which leaders used nonviolence to achieve social justice. With this foundation, students can begin to envision themselves as leaders in making positive change—personally and socially.

BQN is based on the rich tradition of oral storytelling that has been an intricate part of the African American community. These stories are central to shaping our worldview and values we hold sacred. NVLP creates programs like BQN to strengthen young people’s resiliency and openness towards the capacity for change. Our vision is to inspire, engage and educate a society where all people thrive and contribute. Our mission is to develop the next generation of leaders by recording, preserving and sharing the stories of extraordinary African-American elders—Visionaries—who have transcended barriers, shaped American history and influenced the world through the rich African-American tradition of social change.