The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women throughout history. https://womenshistorymonth.gov
Kathrine Switzer defied the rules, and outdated thinking by becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. This was a time when women were not allowed to officially compete in marathons. Race organizers considered long distance races too strenuous for women. When the race organizer realized Switzer was running the race wearing an official bib, he tried to tackle her and rip her bib off. Thankfully, Switzer’s boyfriend, running beside her, shoved the official to the ground clearing the path for Switzer to complete the marathon and make history. Five years later, women were officially allowed to run the Boston Marathon.
17 years later, in 1984, at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the women’s marathon debuted as an event with American Joan Benoit taking the gold medal with a winning time of 2 hours 22 minutes.
Susan B. Anthony
As recently as 100 years ago, women in America were not allowed to vote. Black men who won their freedom following the civil war were granted the right to vote in 1872 with the passage of the 14th amendment, but women would have to wait nearly another 50 years to vote legally. Susan Brownell Anthony fought for the abolition of slavery, the rights of labor, and equal pay for equal work, and was one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. Along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and other suffragettes, she traveled the country delivering speeches in favor of women's right to vote.
Anthony recognized that without voting rights, women would never achieve equality. In 1872, Anthony took matters in her own hands by casting a ballot with several other women in New York. Soon after, a federal marshal arrived at her door and arrested her for wrongfully and willfully voting. Between her arrest and trial, Anthony used her notoriety to make public speeches on the subject. She was found guilty at trial and fined $100, which she refused to pay. The judge, wishing to make the matter go away quietly, refused to jail her.
Anthony died in 1906, 14 years before the passage of the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote. In recognition of her life’s work, the 19th is nicknamed the Anthony Amendment.
Sally Ride grew up in Los Angeles and earned a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. In 1978 she beat out 1,000 other applicants for a spot in NASA’s astronaut training program. In 1983, she became the first American woman in space, serving as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger. At 32 years old, she was also the youngest American to ever leave the atmosphere. (She wasn't the first woman in space, though -- that title belongs to Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.)
Ride went on to have an award-winning career as a public servant and as a physics professor at the University of California, San Diego. She also founded "Sally Ride Science," an organization that aims to inspire young people in STEM. She wrote several books about her experience in space to inspire children to pursue careers in science. To quote Dr. Ride, “Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose…You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta is an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, is a co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta helped organize the Delano grape strike in 1965 in California and was the lead negotiator in the workers' contract that was created after the strike, improving working conditions for farm workers.
Before the organized strike, and boycott of grapes, farm workers earned 70 cents an hour, for working all day, without rest, or cold water.
Huerta is the originator of the phrase, "Sí, se puede" or “Yes, we can,” the motto of the United Farm Workers and since adopted by other activist groups. As a role model to many in the Latino community, Huerta is the subject of corridos (Mexican or Mexican-American ballads) and murals. In California, April 10 is Dolores Huerta day.
Upon accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom Huerta said, “The freedom of association means that people can come together in organization to fight for solutions to the problems they confront in their communities. The great social justice changes in our country have happened when people came together, organized, and took direct action. It is this right that sustains and nurtures our democracy today.”
Dolores Huerta Foundation
The “mother of computing” earned a bachelor’s degree from Vassar and a PhD in mathematics from Yale in 1934. In 1944 she worked on the Mark I project, one of the original computers, through a partnership between Harvard and the United States Naval Reserve. She led the team that invented COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), the first programming language that used words instead of numbers. It is still used today. She is also credited with coining the term “debug” after removing a live moth from the inner workings of a Mark II computer. Among her honors: a National Medal of Technology, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, and, ironically, the Computer Sciences Man Of The Year Award from the Data Processing Management Association. Although Hopper was decorated with many awards during her career, she had to prove herself over and over, in a world of men who regarded her with skepticism. She once said, "If you do something once, people will call it an accident. If you do it twice, they call it a coincidence. But do it a third time and you've just proven a natural law!"
Another quote of hers that applies equally to the worlds of science, and feminism, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’” Thank you for doing it your way Ms. Hopper.
Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz
In 2020, 80,000 citizens took part in a march in Mexico City to protest violence against women. The march was followed by a general strike called “A Day Without Women.” We can trace the roots of women’s protests in Mexico back to the 1600’s.
Born in 1651, in Mexico, Juana Inés de la Cruz's intelligence and scholarship became known throughout the country during her teen years. In 1667 she chose the life of a nun so that she could study at will. After taking her vows, Sor Juana read tirelessly and wrote plays and poetry, often challenging societal values and becoming an early proponent of women's rights. Sor Juana is heralded for her Respuesta a Sor Filotea, which defends women's rights to educational access. With Sor Juana's growing renown, however, came disapproval from the church. Sor Juana responded by defending the right of all women to attain knowledge and famously wrote (echoing a poet and a Catholic saint), "One can perfectly well philosophize while cooking supper." Today, Sor Juana stands as a national icon of Mexican identity, and her image appears on Mexican currency. She came to new prominence in the late 20th century with the rise of feminism and women's writing, officially becoming credited as the first published feminist of the New World. She died in Mexico in 1695.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Established in 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments provides Americans equal access to any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance, including sports. This means that institutions such as public schools are legally required to provide girls and boys with equitable sports opportunities.
Before Title IX, one out of 27 girls played sports. Today that number is two of five. Since 1972, there has been a 545% increase in the percentage of women playing college sports and a 990% increase in the percentage of women playing high school sports. The effects of Title IX are plainly visible at the Olympic games. From gymnastics and water polo, to basketball, soccer and swimming, it has become clear that American women dominate the Olympic scene. There has been a steady increase in the participation of American women at the Olympics since the passage of Title IX and hundreds of girls who benefited from this law have gone on to make history.
Need more proof of the importance of Title IX? Consider the story of Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She was 10 years old in 1972, and enjoyed access to numerous sports teams as a teenager, excelling in track, basketball and volleyball in high school, and later at UCLA. From 1984 to 1996, she competed in four Olympic games, winning six medals including three gold.
Katie Sowers - First woman to coach in the Super Bowl
Katie Sowers began playing football when she was eight years old. During college she played quarterback and defensive back for the West Michigan Mayhem and the Kansas City Titans of the Women’s Football Alliance. In 2013 she led the US Women’s National Football Team to the world championship, recording five interceptions, returning three of them for touchdowns in the semifinal game. In 2017 she took a summer job as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, and soon after was hired by the San Francisco 49ers. In 2019 she was promoted to offensive assistant coach, and in 2020 became the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl. Even in 2020, women continue to break barriers, taking on roles that have previously only been held by men. Since 2015, seven full-time female coaches and 15 female coaching interns have worked in the league.
NBA teams currently employ eleven women as assistant coaches.
Rachel Carson was a student of nature, and a born ecologist before that science was defined. While working as a marine scientist, Carson wrote three books about ocean ecosystems from the perspective of environmentalism.
But Rachel Carson is remembered more today for her book Silent Spring (1962) a searing indictment of synthetic ¬pesticides like DDT that she called “elixirs of death.” The book is largely responsible for initiating the contemporary environmental movement. She likened the danger from pesticides to the threat from nuclear-weapons testing. Chemicals, she said, “are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world—the very nature of life.”
By the time of her death in 1964 she had set in motion a movement that produced Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency, a domestic ban on DDT and a transformation of how Americans see the world they inhabit.
Lucille Ball was an American actress and pioneer in comedy. With her husband Desi Arnaz, she was the star of the popular 1950s television series, I Love Lucy, which was the number one show in America four of its six seasons. The show almost never made it to air. CBS initially declined to cast Ball’s real life husband Desi Arnaz as her TV spouse. They feared that audiences would not approve of the marriage of a white woman and Cuban-born man. Together, the couple self-financed the pilot that was too good to refuse. Ball had the foresight to capture I Love Lucy on film and retain full ownership rights to the show, which has never been off the air since its debut in 1951. Ball was the first woman to head a Hollywood Production Company, Desilu, in partnership with her husband. As an entertainer and businesswoman, Ball continuously broke barriers for women in entertainment. In the second season of I Love Lucy, Ball became the first woman to continue to star in a sitcom while pregnant, which was radical for the time. After the show ended in 1957, Desilu Productions continued on, producing more television hits like Our Miss Brooks, Make Room for Daddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Untouchables, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. Lucille Ball was a pioneer who blazed a trail for the most powerful women in Hollywood.
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg began a global movement in August 2018, by camping out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read “School Strike for Climate.” In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history. Her image has been celebrated in murals and Halloween costumes, and her name has been attached to everything from bike shares to beetles. Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year, Time Magazine named her Person of The Year for 2019, and Nobel Peace Prize nominations in 2019 and 2020. Her message is simple, immediate action is needed to address the world’s climate crisis.
Born in 1911, Didrikson was named an All-American in basketball from 1930 to 1932. This was at a time when some considered female athleticism unacceptable. In ’32, at the U.S. amateur track-and-field championships; over the course of three hours, she finished first in five different events—broad jump, shot put, javelin, 80-m hurdles and baseball throw—and tied for first in the high jump, single-handedly outscoring every other team at the event.
At the Olympics in Los Angeles a few weeks later, she became the only female Olympian ever to collect individual medals in a running, a throwing and a jumping event (the 80-m hurdles, javelin and high jump). That record still holds.
Almost overnight, Didrikson shot to global fame, showing that women more than belonged on the playing field.
Some writers condemned her for not being “feminine.” “It would be much better if she and her ilk stayed at home, got themselves prettied up and waited for the phone to ring,” one sports columnist wrote. In 1934, Didrikson took her talents to the golf course. Over the next two decades she won 82 tournaments—including an incredible 14 consecutive events in one stretch—and became a founding member of the LPGA. A year after being diagnosed with cancer in 1953, she won the U.S. Women’s Open by a record 12 strokes.
Like millions of women, Lilly Ledbetter worked a demanding job to support her family. And, like millions of women, she was underpaid for it. In 1979, a Goodyear tire factory in Alabama hired Ledbetter as an overnight supervisor, making her one of the first female managers at the plant. But after 19 years with the company, she received an anonymous tip: while she was earning $3,727 per month, men with her same title were making thousands more. After filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1998, Ledbetter was awarded more than $3.5 million in damages. But the tire company appealed, and the verdict was reversed.
In a 2007 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Ledbetter had to report discrimination within 180 days of when the prejudiced salary decision was made—impossible to do if you’re unaware of the discrepancy. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a strongly worded dissent, and Congress listened, passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.
Throughout history, women have had to fight for the right to an education. I shared the story of Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, who became a nun in order to gain access to books. In parts of our modern world, this struggle continues. At the age of 11, Malala Yousafzai began anonymously publishing a blog about life under the local Taliban in Pakistan. Over the next three years, Yousafzai wrote about her life and her desire to get an education, in a region where girls’ schools were being shuttered and bombed. As her renown grew, so did the threats against her life.
On Oct. 9, 2012, a gunman from the Pakistani Taliban boarded a school bus, called her out by name, and shot her, and two of her schoolmates in retaliation for her activism. Yousafzai not only survived but thrived, as an author, activist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and role model for anyone who wants to make the world a better place. In 2013 her book “I Am Malala” became an international bestseller. Her bravery in daring to raise her voice on behalf of others is a call to all of us to follow her example—to be vigilant in the protection of basic human rights, whatever our age, whatever our circumstance. We can start by heeding her words about the importance of education: “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”
Black History Month
February is Black History Month
Last year we spent the month of February introducing you to an array of some of the many important African-Americans throughout history. If you’d like to revisit any of those stories they are available below under Black History Month – February 2020.
This year we will take a different approach. We still intend to celebrate important African-Americans, but we will also feature different aspects of the African-American experience, throughout history and in current events. Links to resources on Discovery Education can be reached by using the Google link and entering your single sign-on. Each of the entries introduces a very brief look at a topic that can be researched in much more depth. Consider them an invitation to do your own research into the ideas that interest you. As a student, you can choose which topics to explore, in any order you choose. Teachers, you may want to highlight certain topics in your advisory class for discussion. I will continue to add new topics as the month progresses.
Kamala Harris Makes History as Vice President
Alpha Kappa Alpha declares Jan. 20 'Kamala D. Harris Day' to celebrate fellow member's 'historic moment'
The poet reads her poem, The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of Joe Biden.
LAUSD - Black Lives Matter at Schools Week of Action February 1st – 5th
The Library of Congress Exhibits and Collections for African-American History Month
This is a massive resource covering a vast array of topics
The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History & Culture
What is Juneteenth?
Celebrated on June 19, the day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and is the oldest known celebration in the country to honor it. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but Texas's small Union presence meant slavery continued. Approximately 250,000 Texan slaves had no idea that they were free. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union army marched into Galveston, Texas. He arrived with thousands of federal troops to deliver news that the Civil War had ended, and that slaves were now free. "Emancipation Day in Texas" was first celebrated in 1980 as an official state holiday commemorating Juneteenth.
The PBS NewsHour: A Class of One: Ruby Bridges
Interview with Ruby Bridges Hall about her experiences as the first African American student to desegregate an elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960.
STEM Careers: Technology Instructor
Profiles Afua Ankomah, who is a technology instructor at Montgomery College in Maryland. Ankomah was a student at Montgomery College before taking a position as a teacher of cybersecurity and web development courses. The program focuses on obtaining an education and career in information technology.
A Feast of African-American Culinary Contributions
Profiles chef and culinary historian Michael Twitty who explores the complicated relationship between race, genealogy, slavery, culture, and food, and showcases Twitty's role as a reenactor at colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The program interviews Twitty about the cuisine and agriculture developed by enslaved people and other themes present in his book, "The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South," and listens to Twitty discuss the role of naturalized food in American history, identity and culture.
Activist, champion: Naomi Osaka is AP Female Athlete of Year
A New African American Identity: The Harlem Renaissance
The Influence of Jazz
50 Amazing Books By Black Authors From The Past 5 Years
The Art of Romare Bearden
Romare Bearden used personal memories, African-American cultural history, and literature as the source of his subject matter. He placed aspects of African-American life within the context of universal themes.
Profiles the enduring legacy of heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali. The program discusses the ways in which Ali inspired others through social activism and his strong political voice.
Classroom Activists: How Service-Learning Challenges Prejudice
Patrisse Cullors, an American artist and activist, is a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Other topics on which Cullors advocates include prison abolition in Los Angeles and LGBTQ rights. Cullors integrates ideas from critical theory, as well as social movements around the world, in her activism. She is a graduate of Cleveland High School in Los Angeles.
How Should African-Americans Respond to Discrimination? A Virtual Debate Between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois
The Negro Leagues
The Negro Leagues were professional baseball leagues that were mostly comprised of African Americans. Historically, the Negro Leagues are known for breaking the color barrier and paving the way for players like Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson to go on to play Major League Baseball.
Black History Month – February 2020
February 3, 2020
In researching people and events to celebrate black history month, I soon realized that a single month is insufficient to capture the depth and diversity of the subject. I could easily present one historically important black person, event, or institution every day for a whole school year and still not do justice to our nation’s black history. In limiting myself to one month, I’m forced to omit some major figures who deserve our attention. I hope you will enjoy this celebration, and take the opportunity to do further research on your own.
A&E Biography: Black History
In the wake of the loss of one of our local heroes, enjoy this video:
Kobe Bryant – Oscar-Winning animated short film “Dear Basketball”
February 4, 2020
Rosa Parks – Today is the 107th birthday of civil rights activist, Rosa Parks. Parks became a prominent face of the civil rights movement after she was arrested and fined for refusing to give up her seat at the front of a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama on Dec. 1, 1955. Her defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott; its success launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities.
The United States Congress has called her "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement". “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired,” wrote Parks in her autobiography, “but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
February 5, 2020
Jesse Owens - Berlin Olympics
In 1936, Adolf Hitler planned to use the Berlin Olympic games as a showcase for supposed Aryan superiority. But Jesse Owens foiled Hitler’s plan and sealed his place in Olympic history by becoming the most successful athlete of the 1936 Games. Owens became the first American to win four track and field gold medals at a single Olympics (100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump), a record that stood unbroken for 48 years. Reflecting on his victories, Owens said, “The road to the Olympics, leads to no city, no country. It goes far beyond New York or Moscow, ancient Greece or Nazi Germany. The road to the Olympics leads — in the end — to the best within us.”
February 6, 2020
In the 1960s, as the United States raced with The Soviet Union to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American, female mathematicians who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Hidden Figures, the book and film, is based on the true stories of three African-American women, known as "human computers.” Working at NASA, they solved the complex mathematical problems required to launch an astronaut into orbit, and guarantee his safe return to earth. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed gender, race, and professional lines, cementing themselves in U.S. history as true American heroes.
In 1992, Mae Jemison followed in the footsteps of these pioneers, in a way, when she became the first black woman to travel into space, serving as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
Hidden Figures is a Subtle and Powerful Work of Counter-History
February 7, 2020
Robert Johnson and the Blues
Originating on Southern plantations in the 19th Century, blues music was invented by slaves, and their descendants, who sang as they toiled in the cotton and vegetable fields. In the 1920’s, Bessie Smith became the first blues superstar, earning $2,000 a week for her live shows. During the great depression, Robert Johnson took the intense loneliness, terrors and tortuous lifestyle that came with being an African-American in the South, and transformed that experience into music of universal relevance and global reach. From 1937 to 1938 Johnson wrote and recorded 29 songs that still define the genre. Johnson’s influence can still be found in the work of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, and contributed to the birth of rock and roll.
Robert Johnson: Love In Vain Blues
Blues America: Woke Up This Morning
February 10, 2020
The Collision of Sports and Politics at The 1968 Mexico City Olympics: Tommie Smith and John Carlos
Thirty years after Jesse Owens’ heroics at the Berlin Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos entered the Mexico City games in the midst of civil rights unrest in the US. In 1968, black Americans still suffered from unequal treatment from society. After winning Gold and Bronze medals respectively, during the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos took advantage of their moment on the world stage to make a statement in protest of racism and injustice. Each man raised a black-gloved fist as a salute to human rights, and kept their fists raised throughout the playing of the US national anthem. Initially, the two athletes faced criticism for their stance, even to the point of death threats towards them and their families. They were stripped of their medals, and banned from the Olympics for life. But over time, they have come to be recognized as heroes who sacrificed their own notoriety to advance the cause of all black Americans. In 2008 Tommie Smith and John Carlos were awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
February 11, 2020
Ava DuVernay is a writer, producer, director and distributor of independent film and television. She has brought us movies such as Selma about Dr. Martin Luther King, and When They See Us, about The Central Park Five. She won the directing award in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere, becoming the first black woman to win the award. I recommend you look for her documentary film 13th on Netflix. This film focuses on language on the 13th amendment and traces the historical connections from slavery to the current system of mass incarceration in the U.S. Ava DuVernay is one of the most important voices in America today. Her work may change the way you think about race forever.
February 12, 2020
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in the early part of the 19th Century. The exact date of his birth is unknown since he was separated from his mother as an infant, and never knew his father, who is presumed to have been a white slave owner. At a young age, he was sold to a family who, against the laws of the time, taught him to read, changing the course of his life. Douglass escaped from slavery in 1838, fleeing to the north. By the time of the Civil War, Douglass had become one of the most famous black men in the country, known for his speeches on human rights. His eloquence drew crowds at every location, where he stood as a living counter-example to arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition.
February 13, 2020
The Cost of Removal:
Have you been to an art museum? Have you thought about the art that you see? Who created it? Whose story is being told? Titus Kaphar asked himself these questions, and found that the answers were unsatisfying. Kaphar is a painter whose work comments on the representation, and absence, of people of color in Western art. His art deconstructs the literal and visual structure of classic artwork by manipulating the canvas to reveal the hidden narratives and unspoken truths that the original pieces ignored. Kaphar approaches difficult aspects of our American history, not with the intention of removing, or concealing them, but to use them to address injustice. Kaphar’s work has been exhibited in museums across the country and in 2018 he was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. A picture is worth a thousand words, so visit the BHM page at HaleCharterAcademy.com to see examples of Kaphar’s work, and to hear his inspiring lectures.
February 18, 2020
Jazz Legend Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington was the most important composer in the history of jazz as well as being a bandleader who held his large group together continuously for almost 50 years. The two aspects of his career were related; Ellington used his band as a musical laboratory for his new compositions and shaped his writing specifically to showcase the talents of his band members. His sophisticated compositions elevated the entire genre. Ellington rejected categorization, calling his sound “American Music” rather than jazz. He wrote film scores and stage musicals, composed over 3,000 songs, and played over 20,000 performances around the world. Ellington won 13 Grammy awards, was recognized by presidents, received the Pulitzer Prize, and appears on a US postage stamp.
Duke Ellington- It Don’t Mean a Thing – 1943
For a different side of jazz, try “Freddie Freeloader” by Miles Davis
A Teacher’s Guide to Jazz
Dig deeper by exploring these jazz legends: Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong.
February 19, 2020
Segregation prevented Georgia-born Alice Coachman from competing on sports teams as a teen, but she didn’t let that quash her dreams and love of running. Training on her own, she eventually earned a scholarship at the Tuskegee Institute in 1939. She continued to win races and break records in Amateur Athletic Union competitions. In 1948, she finally got her chance to compete in the Olympics, and her record-breaking high jump made her the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold. She retired from competition, and in 1952 became the first African-American man or woman to receive an endorsement deal when Coca-Cola chose her as a spokesperson.
February 20, 2020
Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen?
In 1938, with Europe on the brink of another great war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced he would expand the civilian pilot training program in the United States.
At the time, racial segregation remained the rule in the U.S. armed forces—as well as much of the country. Much of the military establishment (particularly in the South) believed black soldiers were inferior to whites, and performed relatively poorly in combat.
Roosevelt’s new program produced The Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC), a precursor of the U.S. Air Force. Trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, they flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Their impressive performance earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and helped encourage the eventual integration of the U.S. armed forces.
February 21, 2020
Richard Wright was born on September 4, 1908, in Roxie, Mississippi, the grandson of slaves and the son of a sharecropper.
Schooled in Jackson, Mississippi, Wright only managed to complete a ninth-grade education, but he was a voracious reader who went to great lengths to pursue his literary interests. He forged notes so he could take out books on a white coworker's library card, as blacks were not allowed to use the public libraries in Memphis. The more he read about the world, the more Wright longed to see it and make a permanent break from the Jim Crow South. After some critical acclaim for his writing in the form of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Wright’s life changed in 1940 with the publication of the novel Native Son. The book brought him fame and the freedom to write. Native Son was a regular atop the bestseller lists and became the first book by an African American writer to be selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club. In 1945, Wright published Black Boy, which offered a moving account of the poverty and racial violence so prominent in the lives of blacks living in the Jim Crow South, helping to lay the ground for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
February 24, 2020
Thurgood Marshall studied law at Howard University. As counsel to the NAACP, he utilized the judiciary to champion equality for African Americans. In 1954, he argued the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education challenging one of the legal underpinnings of racial segregation; the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Marshall’s victory struck down the policy of racial segregation in public schools, providing the legal foundation, and much of the inspiration, for the American civil rights movement that unfolded over the next decade. At the same time, the case established Marshall as one of the most successful and prominent lawyers in America.
As a circuit court judge he argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, winning 29 of them. In 1967 he became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.
Read more about Thurgood Marshall’s career including the court cases that made him famous.
February 25, 2020
Local Heroes: The Williams Sisters- Tennis, Compton, CA, Tiger Woods – Golf, Cypress, CA
Historically, Golf and tennis have been the domain of wealthy members of private country clubs. But some of our local Southern California heroes were pioneers in changing that perception. The Williams Sisters, Venus and Serena, became tennis royalty after growing up far from privilege, in Compton, CA. Both Venus and Serena have spent time as the number one player in the world, and Serena’s 23 Grand Slam singles titles rank second all time.
Fifteen miles away, in the city of Cypress, Tiger Woods learned to golf on the local public courses near his home. Today, after dominating the sport for a decade, he is tied for the most professional victories in history (82) and considered by many to be the greatest golfer of all time. Of the top 100 golfers in career victories, only three are men of color, including Tiger who, with one more win, will sit alone at the top.
The New Wave of Young Women of Color in Tennis
Read about the experiences and courses that shaped a young champion:
February 26, 2020
Ten Black Senators from 1865 to Present
150 years ago, state lawmakers in Mississippi chose Hiram Rhodes Revels to assume a vacant seat in The US Senate, the first Black American to hold the office. Born a free man in 1827, Revels was an educator who brought religious instruction to slaves as an ordained minister, and later as a principal of a high school for black students. A contingent of Revels’ fellow senators challenged his right to take the senate seat citing the Constitution’s requirement that a senator be a citizen for nine years. Black citizenship had only been established by the Civil Rights Act of 1866 making Revels a citizen of four years. By a vote of 48 to 8, the senate chose to seat Revels. Of the 2,000 men and women to serve in the Senate since 1865, only 10 have been black. One of them, Barack Obama, went on to become the 44th President of the United States. Students of history will recall that President Obama was also persecuted by citizenship questions 150 years after Senator Revels. Is this just a coincidence? Do your research, and find out for yourselves.
February 27, 2020
Popular American music has always benefited from the presence of great black artists. From Nat King Cole and Ray Charles, to Prince, and Beyonce, these stars created music infused with power and passion, bringing us all great joy and inspiration. But as Dr. Martin Luther King commented, musicians can also “take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.” The civil rights era saw the recording of several songs that directed a spotlight on the suffering, struggles, and triumphs of black America. Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Nina Simone’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free celebrate a feeling of hope for a brighter future. But Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit paints an unvarnished portrait of the violence of southern life. Words can’t do justice to these songs. Visit the Black History Month page on the Hale website. Listen and learn.
Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come
Nina Simone - I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit
In 1999, Time magazine named "Strange Fruit" the "song of the century."
February 28, 2020
Martin Luther King Jr.
During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from 1955 until 1968, Black Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.
Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King led a movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family.
Dr. King’s orations and writings are among the most revered in the English language. His accomplishments are now taught to American children of all races, and his teachings are studied by scholars and students worldwide.
In his speech accepting The Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr. King said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Transcript and recording of “I Have A Dream” speech, Rev. Martin Luther King
Delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.