Black History Month Episode 3: BLKTHEN

Black History Month Episode 3: BLKTHEN

Djali Brown-Cepeda is an uptown native and the founder of BLK THEN, a community organization dedicated to documenting and preserving New York City Black culture and history through family photographs and stories. Through her organization, she’s been able to host back-to-school campaigns, plus food and clothes drives, and share the powerful narratives of Black and Brown families. “There needs to be representation for people of color. So often, history is told from the side of the victors. We’re changing that.”

BLK THEN was founded in 2020. Djali Brown-Cepeda needed to document the daily lives of Black individuals throughout New York City, and pay homage to her heritage, which is Black American and Indigenous American. Her organization serves the community by supplying clothes, books, and food to families who need them the most. For many years, the idea of being Black has been distorted through public perception. Brown-Cepeda’s organization aims to address these issues and allow for Black voices to be highlighted in our society. “The goal is to undo our misconceptions on Blackness.”

Brown-Cepeda’s stories can be found on the @blkthen Instagram page, where she details the lives of families who have had long ties to New York City. Her work gives way for building stronger community ties and relationships with those whose voices are not heard. She feels the persistence in her organization will only allow for more families to speak up on their history. “Throughout this project, we’ve been able to get to know the neighborhood and give back to the community.”

Black History Month Episode 1: It’s From the Sole
Black History Month Episode 1: It’s From the Sole

BLK THEN places an emphasis on acknowledging Black families, everyday heroes, and figures who have shaped modern New York into what it is today. Through her community initiatives, Brown-Cepeda will continue to amplify Black voices and raise awareness on the issues troubling communities of color. She knows her work will impact future generations. “I don’t exist because of myself, I exist because of everyone that came before me. And those that will be after me.”

Black History Month