February is Black History Month. Your child may already be familiar with influential figures like Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks who paved the way for the civil rights of many. However, there are several other Black leaders children can learn about to understand the history of our country and the world. Lake Forrest Preparatory School strives to include all cultures into the classroom as children learn from others who may or may not look like them. Here are 10 black leaders we encourage you to discuss with your child:
Bolin attended Yale Law School in 1931 as its first Black female student. By 1939, she had been selected as the first Black female judge in the United States. She worked diligently against major corporations to hire workers not for the color of their skin, but for the skills they contributed to the workplace.
This compelling true story of forced integration in 1960 will appeal to all children. Bridges was only 6 years old when she entered the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana at the beginning of the school year, and almost every parent pulled their children out of school in protest. In 1999, she formed and now chairs the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote the “values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences.”
Brooks won a Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for writing Annie Allen, a book of poetry that told the story of an African American girl growing into adulthood. She was the first Black woman to earn this prestigious award. Her next “first” was as the Library of Congress’s poetry consultant before becoming the poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Her works focused on the politics, economy, and social landscape of the tumultuous 1960s.
Chrisholm was elected to Congress in 1969 as the nation’s first Black congresswoman. She held this important role until 1983. In 1972, she was the Democratic Party’s choice to be President of the United States. Even at that time, she was the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. During her time in Congress, she was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus.
Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
Davis, Sr., was the first Black general in the United States military. His service began during the Spanish American War and, while still a commanding officer, also taught military science at Tuskegee and Wilberforce Universities. He was a commander of the 369th Regiment, New York National Guard, and special assistant to the Secretary of the Army.
Hughes was a powerful poet and novelist during the Harlem Renaissance. Some of his best known poems are “Let America Be America Again” and “I Look at the World.” As a writer and an early creator of jazz poetry, he heavily influenced future Black artists. The activist wrote poems and novels about the hardships of lower-class Black citizens that still resonate with people today.
Mae C. Jemison
Jemison joined Endeavour’s team as the first Black woman to orbit space. Her other amazing credentials include being a physician, Peace Corps volunteer, teacher, and founder and president of the Jemison Group. She is a strong proponent of women in STEM careers, having left NASA to do her part in advocating for others looking to break into these industries. She still works alongside NASA as a liaison for women in the space programs, specifically women of color.
Lacks had no idea she was doing anything special when she went to the doctor in 1951. Unbeknownst to her, she had cervical cancer. Her cancer cells were extremely special because of their unique ability to replicate daily. However great her cells’ contributions may have been, her story is also one about a lack of equality in medical treatment. Her cells were taken without her consent, and she did not benefit from any of the research, having died only 8 months after being diagnosed. However, they’re still being studied today an
Owens was the world’s best track and field athlete for over 25 years. His career took off in the 1935 Big Ten track meet in Michigan when he broke 3 world records and tied for a 4th. Many call it the “greatest 45 minutes ever in sport.” In the 1936 Olympic Games, he won four gold medals. He earned the title of the “greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history.” USA Track and Field annually awards the Jesse Owens Award to the year’s best track and field athlete.
Robinson was the first Black man to play Major League Baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his first season, he was named National League Rookie of the Year. Two years later he was the National League’s Most Valuable Player. Robinson broke the color barrier in this previously all-white sport.
The lives of so many strong Black Americans should be highlighted not only during Black History Month, but throughout the year. At Lake Forrest Prep, all cultures are celebrated. Call us at 407 331-5144 to see why our school would be a great fit for your child.