When artist David Heredia couldn’t find any comic books for his kids with superheroes that were either Black or Latino, he decided to bring some real life superheroes to life by creating an animated series for kids to learn about real people of color who had amazing stories in his Heroes of Color animated series.
Heredia says,”You see the artwork coming to life as you watch the video. And so while you’re captivated with the artwork, you’re actually learning something about this individual or their achievements.”
Heroes of Color promotes inclusion and diversity through art, animation, and professional development. The video below describes how Heroes of Color started, as well as a sample of some of the stories they tell. For your convenience, the video is transcribed below (transcript lightly edited for clarity).
0:04 Heroes of Color is an animated series that I created to help give my children a little bit more cultural education. I felt as a parent, in their schooling, they weren’t really including enough of Latino heroes, African American heroes, you know, Indigenous. So I sort of created this series to first help my children. And as a result, I saw the impact that it was actually having on other kids and adults. I’m a huge comic book collector. And you know, several times I’ll come to the office with my kids. And you know, we’ll look through the comic books, and my son just randomly asked me how many Black superheroes there were. And I was like, oh, man, there’s tons of them, you know. So as we started looking through our books, we actually couldn’t find any, I think I had one or two. I Googled heroes of color. And while I did get some heroes that came in, like superheroes, I actually started getting real people who had accomplished, you know, remarkable things. And the interesting thing was, these were people that I had never heard of. That’s really when the series started to take shape.
1:13 The 369th, like other black units, were re-assigned to two French divisions.
-Vive la France-
They spent a total of 191 straight days on the front lines, longer than any other American unit, black or white
1:26 The first hero was actually a group, it was the Harlem Hellfighters. And it was a an all Black military unit that served in World War One. You see the artwork coming to life as you watch the video, and it captures your eye captures your attention. And so while you’re captivated with the artwork, you’re actually learning something about this individual, or their achievements or whatever, you know, little piece of history, and it keeps you there long enough to understand what that person’s obstacles were, and how they overcame these obstacles.
2:02 Dr. Pantoja founded Aspira in 1961, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving education in Latino communities.
2:11 My idea was, I wanted to keep reaching people. So I decided to do a children’s book called Little Heroes of Color. And this was going to be a way for me to continue to get the word out. While I worked on the video series, it was published to Scholastic-they are global. The more colorful it looks, the more attractive and enticing it is. And while they’re stuck on how beautiful it looks, as they start actually reading it, they start learning about, you know, different cultures and different individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. Pretty much everything that I do with the artwork that I create is very focused on education. My company, Heroes of Color, LLC, you know, my tagline is “Educating through Art.” And that’s it. That’s exactly what it is.
With the success of the series, David went on to create a Little Heroes of Color coloring book, workshops and more.