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Sprout Celebrates Black History Month With A Series Of Inspirational Vignettes Featuring Historical Figures And Kids Making An Impact Today

Sheinelle Jones, Anchor on NBC News' "Weekend TODAY," to Narrate Month Long Celebration to Kick Off on Sprout's Live Daily Morning Show "Sunny Side Up"

NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Sprout, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment's 24-hour preschool network, teamed up with NBC News' Peacock Productions to produce a series of vignettes that celebrate Black History Month. "Weekend TODAY" news anchor Sheinelle Jones will narrate each segment celebrating an African American from recent history along with a young person making an impact on society today.

Sprout

Debuting on February 1, the vignettes will run continuously throughout the month on Sprout. Jones will appear on Sprout's live daily morning show "Sunny Side Up" that day to kick off the celebration and introduce the first vignette. A new vignette as well as a live interview with the young person featured will debut every Monday in February on "Sunny Side Up." The segments will encourage a two-way dialogue with parents and preschoolers as they celebrate both Black History Month overall as well as extraordinary individuals within the black community.

"As a mother of three, I know it is tremendously important to educate children about history at a critical age when they are developing and learning new things," said Jones. "I'm excited to work with Sprout for Black History Month and encourage viewers to pursue their passions and become wonderful role models in their communities. By using real life stories and relatable figures in history, we collectively hope to cultivate curiosity with content that is engaging, fresh and simple."

With the most diverse audience in children's preschool television*, Sprout will show its viewers the stories of four extraordinary young people who are already making history by pursuing their passions. Pairing them with an inspirational African-American figure with similar interests, viewers will receive a first-hand look at how determination and a vision for success can make dreams come true. The video features include:

THE CHEFS: Chef Lena Richard (1892 – 1950) and Haile Thomas (2002 - Present)

Lena Richard, a notable chef and entrepreneur, was host of her own cooking show on New Orleans television, a singular achievement for an African-American in the segregated South of the late 1940s. At the age of 15, Haile Thomas, from Tuscon, AZ, has accomplished more than some people do in a lifetime. With her dad diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2008, she made it her mission to learn how to cook healthier food for her family. Maya cooked an original recipe for first lady Michelle Obama at a White House Kid's Lunchtime State Dinner and her meal was named Best Kids Dish of the Year. 

THE ENTREPRENEURS: John H. Johnson (1918 - 2005) and Jaylen Bledsoe (2002 – Present)

At a young age, John H. Johnson used his mother's furniture as collateral to secure a $500 loan to start the publication Negro Digest. He parlayed his dream of publishing "a magazine of Negro comment" into a gold mine, ultimately becoming a chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. Inc. in Chicago, the largest black-owned publishing and cosmetics company in the world. Jaylen Bledsoe, from St. Louis, MO, built a successful IT company in a little over 2 years – before he had even graduated from high school. At 12-years-old, with $100, Jaylen started Bledsoe Technologies, LLC., an information technology consulting company in St. Louis. Today, Bledsoe has over 150 contractors who work for him and has notable celebrity clientele, including Jordin Sparks and Steve Harvey.

THE DESIGNERS: Elizabeth Keckley (1818 – 1907) and Maya Penn (2000 – Present)

Supporting herself and her family through her dressmaking and design skills, Keckley was famous for the inaugural gown she designed for Mary Todd Lincoln, wife to then president Abraham Lincoln; this dress can be viewed today at the Smithsonian Institute in D.C. Maya Penn, from Snellville, GA, is an entrepreneur and CEO of her eco-friendly fashion company Maya's Ideas, a company she started at the age of 8, with 10-20% of profits going to charities and organizations.

THE VIOLINISTS: Joseph Douglass (1871 - 1935) and Andrew Koonce (1999 - Present)

Joseph Douglass, grandson of Frederick Douglass, was the first nationally-known black concert violinist, performing and touring around the world. Andrew Koonce, originally from New York City and now based in Atlanta, is a seventeen-year-old violin virtuoso who has played all around the globe, including a seven-city tour in China. Just recently, he was the winner of the 2015 Georgia Music Teacher's Association Concerto Competition.

Viewers are invited to celebrate Black History Month on www.SproutOnline.com and share what inspires them all month long. 

*Sprout outranks Disney, Nickelodeon and all the preschool networks in audience composition for Black audiences. Among all Sprout viewers, 28% were Black in 3Q and 4Q combined.

About Sprout
Sprout is the 24-hour preschool TV network that reflects real kids and the real worlds they are growing up in.  Sprout's original programming inspires families to experience the possibilities in every single day, and includes animated series "Nina's World," "Ruff-Ruff, Tweet & Dave" and "Astroblast!."  Sprout's "Sunny Side Up" is the only morning show for preschoolers and broadcasts live from NBCU Studios in Rockefeller Plaza. Launched in 2005 and now in over 56 million US homes, Sprout is a network of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies.  Please visit sproutonline.com for additional information.

About Peacock Productions

Peacock Productions, a division of NBC News, is a nonfiction production company that combines the editorial expertise, technical resources, and seasoned talent of NBCUniversal to create series, events, and live specials for global audiences. Peacock Productions reaches more than 300 million people worldwide every year across broadcast, cable, syndication, and emerging platforms with its award-winning specials and series. Sharon Scott is the President and General Manager. For more information, visit: http://www.peacockproductions.tv/

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