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African Americans in History

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Every day in February we will be honoring a new African American leader in our morning announcements and stressing to the students how important these individuals are to our lives today.  Please join us and follow along to learn more about some amazing individuals in the history of the world!

Also, check out these amazing reading resources for your child to learn more about key African Americans in history.  

Black History MonthBlack History Month

Tuesday, February 1st - Jack Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Jack Roosevelt Robinson, born in 1919 was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.


"Life is not a spectator sport. If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you're wasting your life." - Jackie Robinson

Wednesday, February 2nd - Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron

Henry Louis Aaron born in 1934, nicknamed "Hammer" or "Hammerin' Hank", for hitting more home runs than any other baseball player in history. The baseball icon also spoke out against pervasive racism in major league baseball and broke racial barriers throughout his career. Despite hate mail, death threats against him, Aaron broke Babe Ruth's homerun record on April 8, 1974 when he hit his 715th home run. He became one of the first blacks in Major League Baseball upper-level management when Braves owner Ted Turner appointed him vice president of player development. He co-founded with his wife, educator Billye, the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation to help children develop their potential.


“Failure is a part of success.” - Hank Aaron 

Thursday, February 3rd - Guion Stewart Bluford Jr.

Guion Stewart Bluford Jr.
Guion Stewart Bluford Jr. born in 1942, is known as an American aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and former NASA astronaut.  In 1983, as a member of the crew of the Orbiter Challenger on the mission STS-8, he became the first African American in space as well as the second person of African ancestry in space. Before becoming an astronaut, he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he remained while assigned to NASA, rising to the rank of colonel. He participated in four Space Shuttle flights between 1983 and 1992. 


“...the important thing is not that I am black, but that I did a good job as a scientist and an astronaut.” - Guy Stewart Bluford Jr

Friday, February 4th - Simone Biles

Simone Biles
Simone Biles, born in 1997, at a mere 18 years old, gymnast Simone Biles is a history maker as the first African American world all-around champion and the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles. Biles currently stands as the most decorated female gymnast and holds the record for the most gold medals won by a female gymnast in World Championship history.


“Today, do what others won’t so tomorrow you can accomplish what others can’t.” -  Simone Biles 

Monday, February 7th - Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison
Mae Carol Jemison born in 1956 is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.


“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” - Mae Jemison

Tuesday, February 8th - Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Barack Obama born in 1961 as the 44th President of the United States. He was the first African American to serve as president. In 2008, he was elected as the president. He won a second term in 2012. Before his presidency, he was the President of the Harvard Law Review and a U.S. senator for Illinois.


“ Keep exploring. Keep dreaming. Keep asking why. Don’t settle for what you already know. Never stop believing in the power of your ideas, your imagination. your hard work…” - Barack Obama 

Wednesday, February 9th - Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges

Ruby Nell Bridges Hall born in 1954 is an American civil rights activist.  At the tender age of six, Ruby Bridges advanced the cause of civil rights when she became the first African American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on November 14, 1960. A lifelong activist for racial equality, in 1999, Ruby established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education.


“Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail.” - Ruby Bridges 

Thursday, February 10th - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou born in 1928, as  Marguerite Annie Johnson was one of the most celebrated African-American writers of the 20th century and one of the most important literary voices of America, perhaps most famed for her autobiographical novel I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969) and her pivotal involvement with the Civil Rights Movement.  


“...people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

Friday, February 11th - Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman born in 1892 in Texas,  was the first African American woman to earn her pilot's license back in 1922.  She paved the way for women in aviation.  She loved to perform for people using stunts and aerial tricks.  


“I refused to take no for an answer.” - Bessie Coleman 

Tuesday, February 15th - George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver born in 1864, was an agricultural scientist and inventor who developed hundreds of products using peanuts (though not peanut butter, as is often claimed), sweet potatoes and soybeans. Born an African American slave a year before slavery was outlawed. In 1894, Carver became the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. Impressed by Carver’s research on the fungal infections of soybean plants, his professors asked him to stay on for graduate studies. He earned a master’s degree in agricultural science from Iowa State University. His childhood home is  named as a  national monument — the first of its kind to honor an African American.


“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” - George Washington Carver

Wednesday, February 16th - Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall born in 1908, became the first African American justice of the Supreme Court. After graduating with a law degree from Howard University, he worked for equality for African Americans. In 1954, he won the Brown v. Board of Education case which ended racial segregation in public schools. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1967.


“Each of you, as an individual, must pick your own goals. Listen to others, but do not become a blind follower.” - Thurgood Marshall

Thursday, February 17th - Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph born in 1940, was sick often as a  child had to wear a brace on her left leg. She overcame her disabilities to compete in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, and in 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics. 


“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion; the potential for greatness lives within each of us." - Wilma Rudolph 

Friday, February 18th - Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm born in 1924, was the first Black woman elected to Congress (1968). She represented New York's 12th District from 1969 to 1983, and in 1972, she became the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Her motto and title of her autobiography—Unbossed and Unbought—illustrates her outspoken advocacy for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Quote - 

“You make progress by implementing ideas." - Shirley Chisholm 

Tuesday, February 22nd - Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens was born in 1913 and was a phenomenal track and field athlete. He broke two world records and won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. His record for the long jump was undefeated for 25 years. His Olympic performance at the 1936 Olympics affirmed that individual excellence, not race or nationality, is what makes a champion.


“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” - Jesse Owens 

Wednesday, February 23rd - Jane Bolin

Jane Bolin

Jane Bolin born in 1908, she was a  pioneer in law, Jane Bolin was the first Black woman to attend Yale Law School in 1931. In 1939, she became the first Black female judge in the United States, where she served for 10 years. One of her significant contributions throughout her career was working with private employers to hire people based on their skills, as opposed to discriminating against them because of their race. She also served on the boards of the NAACP, Child Welfare League of America, and the Neighborhood Children’s Center.


“...families and children are so important to our society…” - Jane Bolin 

Thursday, February 24th - Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was born in 1856, as a  slave. He put himself through school and became a teacher. In his lifetime, he was an African American leader. In the late 19th century, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Tuskegee became a top school in the country.


If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” - Booker T Washington

Friday, February 25th - Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Bomfree in 1797. A former slave, Sojourner Truth became an outspoken advocate for abolition, temperance, and civil and women’s rights in the nineteenth century. Her Civil War work earned her an invitation to meet President Abraham Lincoln in 1864.


“Life is a hard battle anyway, and if we laugh and sing a little...it makes it all go easier.” - Sojourner Truth

Monday, February 28th - Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker, a mathematician and astronomer, was born on November 9, 1731, in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland. Largely self-taught, Banneker was one of the first African Americans to gain distinction in science. In 1752, Banneker garnered public acclaim by building a clock entirely out of wood. The clock, believed to be the first built in America, kept precise time for decades. In 1789, Banneker began making astronomical calculations that enabled him to successfully forecast a solar eclipse. Benjamin Banneker saw astronomical patterns from which he could make calculations and predictions. 


“Never abandon your vision. Keep reaching to further your dreams.” - Benjamin Banneker

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