St. Paul woman creates comic book highlighting Black inventors

An elementary school staffer by day, in her free time a St. Paul woman is creating comic books. These aren't your typical comics. The superheroes are Black inventors who have made an impact on American history.

Mercedes Yarbrough is an intervention specialist at Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion Academy in St. Paul. In a room full of third graders, she is ahead of the class.

Yarbrough tells the students: "I believe we all have superpowers." One of her strengths is finding ways to connect with kids. "

The things that I think schools should be teaching I’m going to create myself," says Yarbrough.

Black To The Future, comic book created by Mercedes Yarbrough from St. Paul, Minn.

Yarbrough created a comic book titled, "Black to the Future." It's a new twist on a classic film.

"So the cover has Black inventors, so this is Alexander Miles he innovated the elevator. Dr. Patricia Bath, she’s the one who created laser cataract surgery," says Yarbrough. The superheroes in this comic are Black inventors who have left a mark on American history. A mother of four, Yarbrough says it's all about making learning fun and empowering students of color.

"Why do you want to be in school learning about your people being oppressed? It's 2022 yeah, that’s history, but we also invented and helped build this country and created things that are used every day," says Yarbrough. 

Yarbrough is turning comics, into a curriculum. And providing students with a new outlet to learn. "It’s just teaching these kids and empowering them that we do have superpowers, and we can make a difference and change the world, but we have to have the vision to do that, and I want to help those kids unlock those superpowers," says Yarbrough.

Yarbrough says that she hopes her curriculum reaches students in more classrooms.  For more information about her work, click on the link below.