Black History

Category: Education

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Slide2: Benjamin Banneker 1731-1806

Slide3: Jean Baptiste Pointe De Sable 1745-1818

Salem Poor: 

Salem Poor 1758 - ?

Sojourner Truth: 

Sojourner Truth 1797-1883

Slide6: Frederick Douglass 1818-1895

Harriett Tubeman: 

Harriett Tubeman 1820-1913

Booker T. Washington: 

Booker T. Washington 1856 1915

Slide9: George Washington Carver 1864-1943

Madame C. J. Walker : 

Madame C. J. Walker 1867-1919

Slide11: W.E.B. DuBois 1868-1963

Scott Joplin: 

Scott Joplin 1868 1917

Bill Pickett: 

Bill Pickett 1870-1932

Slide14: Mary McLeod Bethune 1875-1955

Carter Woodson: 

Carter Woodson 1875 1950

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.: 

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. 1880-1970

Slide17: Bessie Coleman 1892-1926

Marian Anderson: 

Marian Anderson 1897-1993

Duke Ellington: 

Duke Ellington 1899 - 1974

Langston Hughes: 

Langston Hughes 1902 -1967

Thurgood Marshall: 

Thurgood Marshall 1908-1993

Jessie Owens: 

Jessie Owens 1913 1980

Rosa Parks: 

Rosa Parks 1913

Joe Lewis: 

Joe Lewis 1914-1981

Billie Holiday: 

Billie Holiday 1915-1959

Alex Haley: 

Alex Haley 1921-1992

Shirley Chisholm: 

Shirley Chisholm 1924

Malcolm X: 

Malcolm X 1925-1965

Martin Luther King, Jr.: 

Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

Roberto Clemente: 

Roberto Clemente 1934-1972 Roberto with his sons at a baseball clinic shortly before his death.

Barbara Jordan: 

Barbara Jordan 1936-1996

Colin Powell: 

Colin Powell 1937

Marian Wright Edelman: 

Marian Wright Edelman 1939

Wilma Ruldolph: 

Wilma Ruldolph 1940

Oprah Winfrey: 

Oprah Winfrey 1954


These are just a few of the black Americans that have impacted our heritage and nation. It is my wish that you will select someone that has made a mark on history and research their life. Then, share this new learning with others, so our knowledge keeps growing.

Born in 1731, Banneker is known as an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, surveyor, and the first African-American to receive a presidential appointment. His love of astronomy and math helped him write his first almanac. He also built a clock with wooden parts that kept time for 50 years.: 

Born in 1731, Banneker is known as an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, surveyor, and the first African-American to receive a presidential appointment. His love of astronomy and math helped him write his first almanac. He also built a clock with wooden parts that kept time for 50 years.


Born to a French father and a Haitian mother, Jean was sent to France to be educated. He would learn the English, Spanish, and French languages as well as several Native American dialects. After being injured on a ship at 20 years old, he was left in New Orleans. Afraid that he might be enslaved, he made his way up the Mississippi, eventually settling in an area along the Chicago River. He set up a trading post there, and over the years built a great settlement and trading business. He is credited with being the founding father of Chicago.


Leaving a young wife behind, Salem Poor joined in the fight for American freedom at the innocent age of 17. He fought in the Revolutionary War’s battle at Bunker Hill. He showed so much courage and ability, that 14 white army officers wrote to the Continental Congress asking that he be rewarded for his conduct.


Sold as a slave at nine years old, she never learned to read or write. Sojourner was an unusual woman for her time in many ways. She was nearly six-feet tall. She was outspoken and blunt. She believed and fought for the rights of the oppressed and the forgotten. She traveled as a preacher, speaking where and when she could about a faith which could not be shaken.


Harriett is known as the “Moses of her people” and for a good reason. She accomplished a great deal in her lifetime. She freed herself and her family from slavery, as well as over 300 slaves by means of the Underground Railroad. She served the Union Army during the Civil war working as a cook, spy, and nurse. There she led a raid that freed an additional 750 slaves. Later, she turned her home into a refuge for the elderly.


Booker was born in Virginia, but grew up working in the salt mines of West Virginia. When he was 16, his parents allowed him to quit work to go to school. They had no money to help him, so he walked 200 miles to attend the Hampton Institute in Virginia and paid his tuition and board there by working as the janitor. Upon graduation, Washington became a teacher. He first taught in his home town, then at the Hampton Institute. When Washington became president of Tuskegee in 1881, the school hardly existed, yet largely through his efforts it became one of the leading facilities for black education in the United States. By the 1890s, he was the most prominent African-American in the United States.


Born a slave in 1864, Carver and his mother were abducted when he was a baby, and he was traded for a race horse. However, he was able to go to school and to Iowa State University. He is famous for his research and development of 300 different uses of peanuts and 100 uses of sweet potatoes. Both crops helped the south’s economy become less dependent on cotton.


One of the first American women of any race or rank to become a millionaire through her own efforts was Sarah Breedlove Walker. She started her own business, the first hair-care products line specifically for African-American women. At first, she sold her products door to door. This venture became extremely successful. Madam Walker helped others by employing thousands in her business. She did not just try to get rich herself; she gave money to organizations that would help or encourage black Americans.


DuBois was the 1st African American to receive his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He was a professor and studied the “Negro culture.” In 1906, he helped to establish the Niagara Movement, a group who would later become the NAACP. In the last years of his life, he became a communist and left the United States; however, his research and beliefs helped shape our Civil Rights Movement.


As a young boy of seven, Joplin was an accomplished pianist. He then learned how to play the banjo. He was a leading pioneer in the development of a type of music we call rag time. Ragtime is a unique blend of European classical music combined with African American harmony and rhythm. He wrote over 60 songs in his lifetime, and wrote an opera, the first written by a black composer. It did not receive attention until sixty years following his death.


Bill Pickett, the oldest of 13 children, was the son of a former slave. He rose from obscurity to become the most famous Black rodeo performer. Bill Pickett is credited with inventing the rodeo event called bulldogging, also known as steer-wrestling, in 1903. In 1971, he became the first African-American cowboy to be inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame. To date, he remains the best-known rodeo performer of color, even though there have been many, and many famous ones, since his time.* An interesting mistake happened when his picture was put on a stamp. The wrong picture was used, and it was a picture of his brother instead of Bill. Later, the stamps were destroyed and new ones were made with his picture. *


Ten years after the Civil War ended, Mary McLeod Bethune was born in Mayesville, South Carolina to former slaves. She was very lucky to receive an education. She dreamed of becoming a missionary in Africa, however she remained in the United States to make sure black children received an education. She was chosen by three presidents to advise them on children’s needs and education. In 1936 she became the Director of the Division of Negro Affairs, making her the first black female to be the head of a federal agency.


As a child, Woodson worked in the coal mines instead of attending school. When he was able to attend high school, he graduated in 1 ½ years and went on to college. He was a college professor for many years. In 1926 he began Black History Week so that children could learn about the great black leaders from our past. Later, in 1976, it became Black History Month.


At 19, Benjamin O. Davis joined the U.S. army and began his service to his country that would last for 50 years. He joined during the Spanish American War and served through World War II. In 1940, he became the first African American to rise to the rank of brigadier general. This tradition was followed by his son, who became the second African American general in U.S. history.


Born in Atlanta, Texas, Bessie became the world's first African American pilot. At 23, she moved to Chicago to live with her brother, after he returned from the war. He teased her about the French female pilots and their careers; she became determined to learn to fly and make something of herself. She used the money she had saved working as a beautician and traveled to France to become a licensed pilot. A dream became a reality when a school for African American aviators was opened in her memory following her accidental death in a plane crash.


Anderson began singing in her church choir at six years old. She was extremely talented and applied to a music school, only to be turned away because she was black. She went to Europe and was well received there as a singer. One conductor even said her voice was, “That one that comes around once in a hundred years.” She sang for President and Mrs. Roosevelt, and later at the Lincoln Memorial in front of 75,000 people on Easter Morning. She was known throughout the world as a great opera singer, and her talent was recognized by all races.


Edward Kennedy Ellington took piano lessons as a young boy, but liked baseball better. It was not until he was a young man that music and jazz became his passion. Nicknamed Duke by a school friend, Duke Ellington gave a sophistication and elegance to jazz writing songs too numerous to name. He was know as a great bandleader and composer; he performed over 20,000 shows in his career of fifty years.


Langston Hughes was a creative and productive writer. In the forty-odd years between his first book in 1926 and his death in 1967, he devoted his life to writing and lecturing. He wrote sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of "editorial" and "documentary" fiction, twenty plays, children's poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies, a dozen radio and television scripts and dozens of magazine articles. What started out as a poet in the eighth grade writing about the feelings of black Americans, became a successful career and left us with his wonderful works.


Marshall was an accomplished lawyer and argued may cases to the Supreme Court. In a famous case, Brown vs The Board of Education, segregation of public schools was declared illegal. In 1967, he became the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Jessie Owens was the son of a sharecropper and the grandchild of a slave. His family was very important to him, and he put their needs and wants before his own. He participated in the 1936 Olympics and won 4 gold medals in track events. He had a lot to overcome in his life. He once said, "Any black who strives to achieve in this country should think in terms of not only himself but also how he can reach down and grab another black child and pull him to the top of the mountain where he is." This is the philosophy he lived by.


Rosa Parks made history on the day she stood up against racism and sat at the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama refusing to move when ordered by the driver. She was arrested and taken to jail overnight. News of her arrest spread, and the citizens of Montgomery started boycotting the bus line. After several months, the rules concerning passengers and drivers for the bus line changed so that everyone was treated equally.


At ten years olds, Joe and his family moved to Detroit where his love of boxing would begin. He turned pro at twenty, and when he retired in 1949, he was the world’s undefeated heavyweight boxing champion, after defending the title 25 times. He also served his country in WWII as an army sergeant. Joe Louis is a role model for all of us, and he proved that good sportsmanship can exist even in a sport as violent as boxing.


She often sang wearing white gardenias in her hair, so it became Billie’s trademark. She is said to be the greatest jazz singer of all times although her personal life was one of tragedies. She sang with Count Bassie’s Orchestra as well as other great band leaders. Her signature song became “Strange Fruit,” a moving protest song about the Southern lynching of black Americans.


Alex left college and joined the Coast Guard where he served for 30 years. He began writing adventure stories to keep from being bored. After he retired, he interviewed Malcolm Little and wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X, his first major work. It was published in 1965 and had a huge effect on the black power movement in the United States. He became famous when his novel Roots was published and made into a movie.. In it Haley traced his ancestry back to Africa and covered seven American generations.


Shirley was born in New York and graduated with honors from Brooklyn College. It was difficult to find a job in her field, so she began working in a daycare and became involved in many political causes. In 1964, she decided to run for Congress. She won the election and became the first African American woman elected to Congress. During her first term, Chisholm hired an all-female staff and spoke out for civil rights, women's rights, the poor and against the Vietnam War. In 1970, she was elected to a second term. She was a sought-after public speaker and co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW).


Malcolm X, was born Malcolm Little. He was a black militant leader who spoke about the concept of race pride in the early 1960s. He was a follower of the Nation of Islam. Because he advocated the use of violence, and appeared to many to be a fanatic, his leadership was rejected by most civil-rights leaders, who emphasized nonviolent methods to racial injustice. After his assassination, his autobiography which was written by Alex Haley, was published. This book helped to make him an ideological hero, especially among black youth.


A minister, who lived what he preached, Martin Luther King was a visionary and humanitarian. Any number of historic moments in the civil rights struggle have been used to identify Martin Luther King, Jr. He was the prime mover of the Montgomery bus boycott, keynote speaker at the March on Washington, and the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. These events are not as important as the fact that King, and his policy of nonviolent protest, was the dominant force in the civil rights movement during its decade of greatest achievement, from 1957 to 1968.**


Roberto Clemente was born and raised in Puerto Rico and was always proud of his heritage. During school, he was a track and field star, but his love was baseball. In 1954 he was drafted as a Pittsburgh Pirate and spent his entire professional life with that club. He was killed in a plane crash while taking supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua in l972.


Barbara Jordan was the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress from the South. She was also the first African-American woman to deliver a keynote address at a political convention, which she did in 1976 at the Democratic Convention. In 1994 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.


General Powell was selected by President George W. Bush as his Secretary of State in January, 2001. Powell is the first African-American to hold this high office in the United States Government. He has served under the past three presidents. Powell is also chairman of “American Promise,” an organization that challenges Americans to invest in youth, and he is committed to making America's youth a national priority.


Mrs. Edelman was an associate of Dr. King, President Kennedy, and his brother, Bobby. She was an active part of the Civil Rights Movement. She was the first black female lawyer to be admitted to the Mississippi bar. Having always been a supporter of Head Start, she founded and still runs the Children’s Defense Fund. She said: “Education is a precondition to survival in America today.” “Don’t feel entitled to anything you don't sweat and struggle for.”


Wilma's family was rather poor and very large; she was the 20th out of 21 children. By the time she was four years old, she contracted polio and scarlet fever, and lost most of the movement in one of her legs. However, at age twelve, after years of therapy and determination, she was able to walk without the use of her leg brace. She became interested in basketball and track. In 1960, she won Olympic gold medals in three track events, becoming the first woman ever to do so.


Oprah Winfrey is a humanitarian, businesswoman, actor, and role model for all. In 1991, because of her memories of childhood abuse, she initiated a campaign to establish a national database of convicted child abusers; President Clinton signed the "Oprah Bill" into law in 1993, establishing this national database. She owns a production company, Harpo, and is one of the highest-paid celebrities in the world. In 2003, the Forbes magazine list of American billionaires included Winfrey—the first African-American woman to reach billionaire status. She shares this wealth in numerous ways with many charities.


Frederick Douglass was born a slave. His master’s wife taught him to read. He was able to free himself and became one of the most sought after speakers against slavery. He later served the United States government in several different offices. He wrote and published newspapers supporting the freedom of slaves. He helped recruit African American troops for the Union Army, and his personal relationship with Lincoln helped persuade the President to make emancipation a cause of the Civil War.

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