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Legendary black animators penned life into big films — now they have a new website to empower families

Floyd Norman and Leo D. Sullivan to produce AfroKids.com

Meet Floyd Norman and Leo D. Sullivan, two legendary black animators you really should know.

It was 50 years ago when both Norman and Sullivan entered the animation industry, where few blacks were employed. They paved their way into history, and our hearts, with some of the greatest animated films of all time. The two now bring their combined 100 years of experience to their new brainchild, AfroKids.com — an interactive website and entertainment venture.

The mission of AfroKids.com is to empower families as well as build children’s self-esteem and cultural heritage through educational and entertainment media.

At 81, Norman is Disney’s first black animator. If you’ve watched Sleeping Beauty or Toy Story, you’ve seen his work. His resume also includes The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and Monsters, Inc. Norman has been honored as a Disney legend for his contributions and is featured on Disney’s DVD release of the classic Jungle Book.

According to blacknews.com, Sullivan began his career as an errand worker for legendary Beany and Cecil producer Bob Clampett. Throughout the years, he crossed career paths with animation studios such as Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, Ruby-Spears, DIC Entertainment and Marvel Productions. He’s completed animation work on The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Super Friends, The Transformers, The Incredible Hulk and Warner Bros’ Tiny Toons. Sullivan is known for his work on BraveStarr (1987), Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972) and My Little Pony ‘n Friends (1986).

The duo joined forces to birth Vignette Films, Inc. (Vignette Multimedia) in 1966. They worked on projects such as the original Soul Train animated logo, Sesame Street and many others. For the last decade, they have focused on interactive education and entertainment with a goal to produce feel-good content.

AfroKids.com is targeted toward black families and children in underserved populations. It is an extension of their earlier plans to create a continuing source of kid-friendly, family and ethnically centric “edutainment.” They want to use unique material to capture the minds and hearts of children.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.