Black History Month Fact Sheet - Woodlin Elementary School PTA

2015 Black History Month Fact Sheet
Here is a link to several family-friendly exhibits and events taking place throughout Black History Month this year
in Maryland:
February 1, 2015
FACT #1: Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of
achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S.
history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and
other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of
February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom,
also devote a month to celebrating black history.
Known as the Father of Black History Month, Carter G. Woodson, was born in1875 near New Canton VA. He
was the son of former slaves. In 1907, he obtained his B.A. degree from the University of Chicago. In 1912, he
received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. In 1915, he and friends established the Association for the Study of
Negro Life and History. A year later, the Journal of Negro History, began quarterly publication. In 1926,
Woodson proposed and launched the annual February observance of Negro History Week, which became Black
History Month in 1976. It is said that he chose February for the observance because February 12th was Abraham
Lincoln’s birthday and February 14th was the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass.
Dr. Woodson was the founder of Associated Publishers, the founder and editor of the Negro History Bulletin, and
the author of more than 30 books. His best known publication is The Mis-Education of the Negro, originally
published in 1933 and still pertinent today. He died in 1950, but Dr. Woodson’s scholarly legacy goes on.
To learn more about Carter G. Woodson and the start of Black History Month you may want to visit the
following link:
Page 1 of 24
February 2, 2015
FACT #2: Harriet Tubman – Civil Rights Activist & Conductor on the Underground Railroad (c. 1820–1913)
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland to become a leading abolitionist. She led
hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad.
 Learn more about Harriet Tubman here:
 Watch this cartoon video about her journey on the Underground Railroad:
 Go visit the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center in Cambridge, MD:
 Go visit Maryland's Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, expected to open in 2015.
The park is a 17-acre tract adjacent to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County near
Church Creek, Maryland. The state park will offer exhibits, programs, and tours. Their visitor center will
be built near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge visitor center, about 12 miles south of Cambridge,
Maryland off of Route 335.
February 3, 2015
FACT #3: Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most influential voices of our time. A celebrated poet, novelist,
educator, actress, historian and civil rights activist, Dr. Angelou became the first African American woman
to have a script made into a movie (in 1972). Not only has she been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, she has
received over 30 honorary degrees and has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts (in 2000) and the
Lincoln Medal (in 2008). She has served on two presidential committees, and composed the poem for
President Clinton's 1993 inauguration, titled “On the Pulse of Morning.” Her poem “Phenomenal Woman”
is widely acclaimed as an homage to the intelligence, creativity and beauty of women.
 Consider reading with your child this children’s poem by Maya Angelou titled “Life Doesn’t Frighten
Me At All” and having a discussion on the power of courage in all of us. Here is a link with more
information about the poem:
Page 2 of 24
Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn't frighten me at all
Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn't frighten me at all
Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don't frighten me at all
Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn't frighten me at all.
I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won't cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild
Life doesn't frighten me at all.
Tough guys fight
All alone at night
Page 3 of 24
Life doesn't frighten me at all.
Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don't frighten me at all.
That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don't frighten me at all.
Don't show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I'm afraid at all
It's only in my dreams.
I've got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.
Life doesn't frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.
Life doesn't frighten me at all.
Page 4 of 24
February 4, 2015
FACT #4: Born in Africa in 1753, Phillis Wheatley was America's first Black woman poet. Sold into slavery
at the age of seven to John and Susannah Wheatley of Boston, Phillis displayed her remarkable talent for
reading and writing early on, writing her first poem at the age of thirteen. In her lifetime she accomplished
many firsts: the first African American to publish a book; the first African American woman to earn a living
from her writing; and the first woman writer encouraged and financed by a group of women. M s . Wheatley's
popularity as a poet ultimately brought her freedom from slavery in 1773. She even appeared before General
George Washington in March 1776 for her poetry and support of the Revolution.
 Check out Wheatley’s bronze statue! Can you guess which city it’s in?
February 5, 2015
FACT #5: Ursula Burns is the Chief Executive Officer of Xerox Corporation. As such, she is the first
African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another
woman as head of a Fortune 500 company, having succeeded Anne Mulcahy as CEO of Xerox. A math and
engineer whiz, in 2014, Forbes magazine rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world.
 Read Ursula Burn’s “Lean In” story:
 Watch a video about Xerox’s top executive:
 Creative Talk: If your child could have any job in the whole world what would it be and why?
Page 5 of 24
February 6, 2015
FACT #6: Before Serena and Venus Williams, there was Althea Gibson. A world ranking and No. 1
American tennis player, s h e was the first black tennis player to win the French Open (in 1956),
Wimbledon (in 1957 and 1958) and the U.S. Open (in 1957 and 1958). She was also the first African
American athlete to be named Female Athlete of the Year, in 1957. She is sometimes referred to as "the
Jackie Robinson of tennis" for breaking the color barrier. She won 5 Grand Slam championships and held
over 30 Singles and Doubles titles in her tennis career. Later in life, Gibson turned to professional golf
and was the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1965.
 Check out the children’s book about Gibson’s life:
 Watch this video about her career and life:
Page 6 of 24
February 7, 2015
FACT #7: Garrett Morgan (1877 – 1963) was an inventor and businessman from Cleveland who invented a
device called the Morgan safety hood and smoke protector in 1914. On July 25, 1916, Garrett Morgan made
national news for using his gas mask to rescue 32 men trapped during an explosion in an underground tunnel
250 feet beneath Lake Erie. Morgan and a team of volunteers donned the new “gas masks” and went to the
rescue. After the rescue, Morgan’s company received requests from fire departments around the country who
wished to purchase the new masks. The Morgan gas mask was later refined for use by U.S. Army during
World War I. In 1914, Garrett Morgan was awarded a patent for a Safety Hood and Smoke Protector. After
witnessing a collision between an automobile and a horse-drawn carriage, Garrett Morgan took his turn at
inventing a traffic signal. Other inventors had experimented with, marketed, and even patented traffic signals,
however, Garrett Morgan was one of the first to apply for and acquire a U.S. patent to produce an inexpensive
traffic signal.
 Watch this NickJr video about Garrett Morgan:
 Explore other black inventors at:
 Creative Talk: What invention would you like to create?
Page 7 of 24
February 8, 2015
FACT #8: Mary McLeod Bethune was an American educator and civil rights leader. Born on a rice
and cotton farm to parents who had been slaves, she attended college hoping to become a missionary in
Africa. When that did not materialize, she started a school for African American girls in Daytona Beach.
It grew from six students and eventually became the Bethune-Cookman College. When she served as
president of the College from 1923-1942 and 1946-1947, she was one of the few women in the world
to do so. In 1932, she worked for the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt and later became a member of
Roosevelt's Black Cabinet. She later also advised Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.
 Go on a tour of the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House in DC. A national historic site it was
significant as a center for the development of strategies and programs which advanced the
interests of African American women and the black community.
 Go visit the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial on Capitol Hill in DC:
Page 8 of 24
February 9, 2015
FACT #9: Ruby Nell Bridges Hall (born September 8, 1954) is an American activist known for being
the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South when she
integrated the New Orleans, LA public school system. She attended William Frantz Elementary School.
 Watch this video “Ruby Bridges Goes to School”:
 Check this book out at your local library:
Page 9 of 24
February 10, 2015
FACT #10: Paul Laurence Dunbar, a poet and novelist, was the first African American author to gain
national recognition for his writings. His writings portrayed the life and accomplishments of African
Americans in the late 1800s. Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in 1872, the son of two former slaves. His
mother taught Dunbar to read when he was four years old. He was an excellent student who served as
editor of his school newspaper and as class poet. He never gave up his desire to become a writer, and was
able to publish some of his poems in newspapers. At age 21, Dunbar published his first book of poems,
Oak and Ivy, with his own money.
Dunbar eventually came to have a high school in Washington, D.C. named for him. Originally named
Preparatory High School for Colored Youth and later known as M Street High School, Paul Laurence
Dunbar High School was founded as an educational mission of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church. It
became America's first public high school for black students and was known for its excellent academics,
enough so that some black parents moved to Washington specifically so their children could attend it. Its
faculty was paid well by the standards of the time, earning parity pay to Washington's white school teachers
because they were federal employees. It also boasted a remarkably high number of graduates who went on
to higher education, and a generally successful student body. Since its inception, the school has graduated
many well-known African-American figures of the 20th century.
Watch this video clip on Dunbar:
Page 10 of 24
February 11, 2015
FACT #11: Born into slavery in Maryland, Frederick Douglass escaped his masters as a young man and
joined the anti-slavery movement. Douglass went on to become a powerful voice against slavery, speaking
in front of large crowds and through the publication of his autobiography. As he became more famous, he
was threatened with being recaptured and had to flee to England, where he experienced life as a free man
for the first time. He bought his freedom and returned to the U.S. where he launched his own antislavery
paper, The North Star. Douglass played an important role in President Lincoln’s decision to issue the
Emancipation Proclamation and in the struggle to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which ended slavery
permanently in America.
 Take a tour of the Frederick Douglas National Historic Site in DC:
Page 11 of 24
February 12, 2015
FACT #12: Bessie Coleman, often called "Queen Bess" or "Brave Bessie,'' was a pioneer in aviation.
Born in Atlanta, Texas, in 1 892 she was a stunt pilot and the first African American woman to fly a
plane. Trained in France, the Netherlands and Germany in 1920-21, she was the first African American
woman to hold United States and International pilot's licenses, as well as an advanced license for stunt
 Go see the “Journey to Freedom” exhibit at The National Black Wax Museum in Baltimore:
February 13, 2015
FACT #13: Before there was an Avon Lady or Mary Kay cosmetics, there was Madame C. J. Walker,
who trained women to sell her beauty and hair care products door to door. Madame Walker was
America’s first Black millionaire business woman, and she invented a new hair care process and line of
cosmetics designed especially for black women. In 1905, Madame Walker invented and patented a
straightening comb, a hair care process that is still used by millions of women today.
 Do a virtual museum tour:
Page 12 of 24
February 14, 2015
FACT #14: Elizabeth Keckley became a successful seamstress, civil activist and author in
Washington, DC. She made the Inaugural gown for Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abraham
Lincoln. She later became her personal dressmaker. Keckley also started a school for black girls to teach them
sewing and etiquette. She became a confidante and later wrote a book about Mary Lincoln's life and her time in
the White House.
 Learn more about Elizabeth Keckley here:
 Learn more about the Smithsonian’s Black Fashion Collection here:
 GO VISIT some of the “First Ladies Collection” at the Museum of American History:
February 15, 2015
FACT #15: George Washington Carver was a scientist and teacher who invented various uses for peanuts,
soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes. He also taught farmers various ways to help them grow their soil. He
received many offers to earn more money but he chose to continue his research and teach at Tuskegee
Institute, a historically black college in Alabama.
 Check out this long list of products he made from peanuts:
Page 13 of 24
February 16, 2015
FACT #16: Marian Anderson was one of the most famous contraltos of her time. In 1939, the Daughters of
the American Revolution banned her from singing in Washington's Constitution Hall, which they owned. First
Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the group in response and sponsored an Easter morning concert at the
Lincoln Memorial. Marian Anderson gave one of her most memorable performances to a crowd of 75,000
people. In 1955, she was the first black singer in a Metropolitan Opera production in New York.
 Listen and watch Marian Anderson sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in DC:
 Learn more about Anderson here:
February 17, 2015
FACT #17: Jackie Robinson (1917-1972) became the first black player in the major leagues in 1947, signing
with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1947, National League MVP in 1949 and a
World Series champ in 1955. He was also a humanitarian and civil rights activist.
 Watch this video about Robinson’s life to learn more:
 For older kids, you may want to consider watching the movie 42 about his career:
Page 14 of 24
February 18, 2015
FACT #18: Shirley Chisholm was a political trailblazer. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected
to Congress, representing New York's 12th Congressional District. On January 25, 1972, she became the first
major-party Black candidate for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic
presidential nomination. Though she did not win, she received 152 first-ballot votes at the 1972 Democratic
National Convention, and continued to serve in Congress for seven terms from 1969 to 1983.
Listen to audio of her on the campaign trail:
Page 15 of 24
February 19, 2015
FACT #19: Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States
Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under U.S. President George W. Bush from
2001 to 2005, the first African American to serve in that position. During his military career, Powell also served
as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and as
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Persian Gulf War. He
was the first, and so far the only, African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was the first of two
consecutive African American office-holders to hold the key administration position of U.S. Secretary of State.
He is also founding chairman of America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest alliance of organizations,
communities and individuals dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth.
 Listen to his Ted Talk on the importance of structure in kids’ lives:
 Check out his 13 Rules on Leadership:
Page 16 of 24
February 20, 2015
FACT #20: In 1996, Dominique Dawes - a native of Silver Spring, Maryland - won Olympic gold with the U.S.
women's gymnastics team as well as an individual bronze medal—becoming the first African American to win
an individual Olympic medal in women's gymnastics.
 Watch her powerful Olympic floor performance:
 While you’re at it check out Gabby Douglas’ beam performance: (Douglas is the first black woman in Olympic
history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in
both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics as well as being the only
American all-around champion to win multiple gold medals.)
February 21, 2015
FACT #21: Mary Church Terrell, daughter of former slaves, was one of the first African-American women
to earn a college degree (in 1884) and a masters degree (in 1988), both from Oberlin College. She became an
activist in the civil rights and women's suffrage movements, founding the National Association of College
Women in 1896, serving as one of only two women who were founding members of the NAACP in 1909,
and acting as president of the Women's Republican League during the 1920 presidential campaign -- the first
election in which all American women were given the right to vote.
 Go visit the Mary Church Terrell House in Washington, DC:
Page 17 of 24
February 22, 2015
FACT #22: Lena King Lee began her career as a teacher in Baltimore city public schools eventually
becoming a principal. She was a founding member of the American Federation of Teachers, a teachers’
union. In 1969, she became a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and was the first African
American woman lawyer to join the Maryland General Assembly.
Go read documents from the Lena King Lee collection at University of Maryland:
Learn more about Lee:
Page 18 of 24
February 23, 2015
FACT #23: Condoleeza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United
States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George
W. Bush. Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state, as well as the second African American
secretary of state (after Colin Powell), and the second female secretary of state (after Madeleine Albright). Rice
was President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to serve in that
position. Before joining the Bush administration, she was a professor of political science at Stanford University
where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999. Rice also served on the National Security Council as the Soviet
and Eastern Europe Affairs Advisor to President George H.W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union
and German reunification.
 Watch a clip of Rice as she learns more about her family’s heritage on PBS’ Finding Your Roots:
Page 19 of 24
February 24, 2015
FACT #24: Ida B. Wells was a journalist, and newspaper editor and owner. An early civil rights leader and
champion of the women’s suffrage movement, she was a contemporary of Frederick Douglas and Susan B.
Anthony. She wrote often about race relations in the United States and was passionate about the unjust
treatment of Blacks. Wells was a skilled and powerful speaker, and traveled internationally on lecture tours.
Seventy-one years before Rosa Parks became famous for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus, Wells
was ejected from a train for refusing to give up her seat. She later sued the train company and won a $500
 Learn more about Wells here:
 See her house which is now a national historic site:
Page 20 of 24
February 25, 2015
FACT #25: Florence Griffith Joyner, also known as “Flo-Jo” was an American track and field athlete.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1959 and raised in the Jordan Downs public housing complex, she
became a popular figure in international track and field because of her record-setting performances and
flashy personal style. In 1988, she set the world record for the 100 meters and 200 meters dash, records that
have never been seriously challenged, and is still considered the “fastest woman of all time.”
 Watch Flo-Jo win her race here:
Page 21 of 24
February 26, 2015
FACT #26: Katherine Dunham was a famed dancer and dance anthropologist. A dance anthropologist
studies the history of dance and humans. Her interest in the African influences for dance in the Americas
helped to create this new category. Her studies and her dance company, The Katherine Dunham dancers helped
to provide opportunities for future dancers. Noted students were Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, and Alvin
 Visit Katherine Dunham Museum:
 Watch a clip of Dunham dancing:
Page 22 of 24
February 27, 2015:
FACT #27: Benjamin Banneker was born on November 9, 1731, in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland. A free black
who owned a farm near Baltimore, Banneker was largely self-educated in astronomy by watching the stars and in
mathematics by reading borrowed textbooks. He became an active writer of almanacs and was appointed by
President George Washington to the District of Columbia Commission. He is known for being part of a group
led by Major Andrew Ellicott that surveyed the borders of the original District of Columbia, the federal capital
district of the United States.
 Go visit Banneker Memorial Park in L’Enfant Plaza, DC:
Page 23 of 24
February 28, 2015
FACT #28: Dr. Mae Jemison is an American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black
woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12,
1992. As a child growing up, Jemison learned to make connections to science by studying nature. After
graduating high school at age 16, she entered Stanford University, majoring in Chemical Engineering and
African-American studies. A serious ballet dancer as well as scientist, today she not only researches and
develops medical technologies for daily life, she has choreographed several modern jazz and African dance
Learn more about Jemison here:
Also here is a link to several family-friendly exhibits and events taking place throughout Black History Month this
year in Maryland:
Page 24 of 24