Image: theheritage.com / Heritage Playing Cards
by Dana Givens
April 19, 2020
Card games are one of the many staples in African American households. These two entrepreneurs decided they wanted to put their own twist on the traditional playing cards.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates Shawna Davis and Tiffany Mickel came together to create Heritage Cards, a pack of playing cards that features pictures of history-making black women instead of the traditional imagery with a jack or ace. Instead, players will see the faces of Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Madam C. J. Walker, Nina Simone, and more.
“While we preserve the four original French suits, including clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades, we re-engineered 12 cards within those suits to have fitting black American legends as a reflection of our interests and legacy,” the founders said to Blavity. “With Heritage, each card has a unique identity.”
Both Davis and Mickel are self-proclaimed “die-hard Insecure fans,” and their excitement built when they saw star Yvonne Orji playing with their deck in an Instagram story. “Having women like Yvonne engage with these cards with their tribe of friends, lovers, and family members ties directly into our whole vision for the cards: to further a tradition of faithfully honoring one’s inherited legacy and courageously realizing one’s infinite destiny.”
“We wanted to create a movement that empowers the African American community of the greatness, [through learning] our past culture and history, and helping players realize the endless possibilities and potential of just being born into the black culture,” said Davis. Each woman’s story corresponds with the number on the playing cards. Bessie Coleman is displayed on the eighth card, which pays homage to the eight-meter biplane she learned to fly in.
The cards already released are considered “first edition,” but future decks will include more contemporary figures like Serena Williams, Beyoncé, and Issa Rae. The duo also mentioned they had plans to extend into a men’s deck.