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Selected School Events and Activities Highlights
Many of our schools across the district will be celebrating Black History Month with their students in unique ways. Here are a few highlights that we would like to share -
Cocoa High School
Cocoa High School recognizes the importance of ensuring the ongoing integration of Black History and the black experiences throughout all curriculum. We know it is imperative as educators to continue to be a conduit reinforcing the idea that Black History is an integral part of American History. CHS will be engaging with our students during the entire month of February with Media Center and Art project displays, Black History facts and quotes communicated daily to all students, and classrooms throughout the campus will be reading and researching Black History. CHS will conclude its celebration of Black History month with a Black History Gala performance by our chorus and orchestra, along with a monologue, followed by a recitation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech by Mr. Leonard Ross.
Date: Thursday, February 25th
Time: 9am – 10:30am
Location: Riverfront Amphitheater at the Historic Downtown Cocoa Village
Space Coast Daily, Brevard's #1 news source will broadcast livestream the event live on www.SpaceCoastDaily.com
Roosevelt will host their first Black History Month Schoolwide Door Decorating Contest representing the National Theme for the Month - The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. Visit Roosevelt’s Facebook page the first week of February showcasing our decorated doors.
Jackson Middle School
Jackson will host their first WING WARS Contest – each wing (hall) on campus will showcase an assigned Black History area on doors, walls and/or windows. The winning wing will be featured on JOTV this February 24th. The assigned areas for showcasing are: African American Poets/Authors, African American Scientists/Political Figures, African American Artists/Entertainers, African American Musicians, and African American Athletes.
Heritage High School
Heritage will celebrate with many activities – door decorating contests, essay and art contests, Leadership showcase and a Unity Day. They will also host weekly student performances in their courtyard centered on a specific area each week – Music, Dance, Poetry and a Unified Grand Finale.
Discovery’s Brevard After Care students will learn about people, experiences and events that have shaped African American History. The school will also hold a program a Black History program on February 25th.
South Lake Elementary
Students will learn about leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, to include the “My Brother Martin” learning unit.
Southwest Middle School
Students and staff can explore a virtual library link to hear from author Kwame Alexander. He discusses 32 books to read to celebrate and honor Black History Month.
In Mid-January, Stevenson began researching the impact the cultural influence of African Americans have had on Florida. Students examined the impact African Americans have had on the artwork, music, dance, and written word. We looked closely at the events in our history that influenced the development of the cultural arts in our state. We studied the arrival of the first slaves in the new world in 1536, their impact on the development of St. Augustine, Fort Mose, and Florida’s connection to the Underground Railroad. We explored how the blended cultures of the freed slaves, the Spanish Colonist, and Native Americans impacted the development of the arts. We compared the lives of the freed slaves of Fort Mose to those living on the plantations in Northern Florida. We analyzed the folktales and stories written during this period. We examined the art, listened to the music, watched the dances, and read the literature from this important period in our history. Students conducted research, held discussions, and created various multi-media based presentations to highlight our discoveries.
Suntree is welcoming the art of RL Lewis, famous Florida Highwaymen Artist. He has shared five original works of art displayed in the Media Center to inspire students. Mrs. Moore, Suntree Art Teacher, will be doing a study of this art style and allowing students to create their own original Florida landscapes inspired by Robert Lewis. The art on display is available through purchase directly from https://www.rllewisartist.net/ and 10% of proceeds will be donated to Suntree Elementary’s purchase of student computers. The event ends February 26th.
A Special Video Tribute and Lesson on Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore – Mr. Taylor’s class
Titusville High School
“What Black History Month Means To Me” – A special tribute from students
*Additional information will be added as more events are shared with us.
Learn about Black history, politics, and culture with Khan Academy
Black History Month Proclamation - Governor DeSantis
Black History Month Theme and Student Contests - State of Florida
For Immediate Release: February 5, 2021
Contact: Governor’s Press Office, (850) 717-9282, Media@eog.myflorida.com First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces 2021 Black History Month Theme and Student Contests
Student essay contest winners will receive a 4-Year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that the theme for Black History Month in February will be “Community Champions – Celebrating the Contributions of African Americans in Florida’s Communities” and released information regarding the student art and essay contests and Excellence in Education awards. “Countless contributions of Black Floridians continue to shape our communities statewide,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “During Black History Month, the Governor and I look forward to recognizing and celebrating these champions of service who have made Florida stronger. I encourage students from across the state to join in these celebrations and enter our art and essay contest, as well as educators that go above and beyond to serve our students.”
First Lady DeSantis is inviting students to participate in academic and creative contests based on theme, “Community Champions – Celebrating the Contributions of African Americans in Florida’s Communities.” Students in grades K-3 can participate in an art contest while students in grades 4-12 can participate in an essay contest. Additionally, students, parents, teachers and principals are invited to nominate full-time educators of all student grades for the Black History Month Excellence in Education Award. About the Student Art Contest First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Black History Month Art Contest is open to all K-3 students in Florida. Each student will submit original, two-dimensional artwork based on this year’s theme. Two winners will be selected. About the Student Essay Contest First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Black History Month Essay Contest is open to all 4-12 students in Florida. Each student will submit one essay no longer than 500 words based on this year’s theme. Three winners will be selected: one elementary school student (grades 4-5), one middle school student (grades 6-8) and one high school student (grades 9-12). Each winner will receive a 4-Year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. About the Excellence in Education Award First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Black History Month Excellence in Education Award Contest is open to all full-time educators in an elementary, middle, or high school in Florida. Three winners will be selected: one elementary school teacher (grades K-5), one middle school teacher (grades 6-8) and one high school teacher (grades 9-12). Nominations may be submitted by a principal, teacher, parent/guardian or student. Contest Entries and Nominating Forms and Guidelines Student contest forms and educator nomination forms must be mailed to Volunteer Florida or submitted online at www.FloridaBlackHistory.com. Volunteer Florida Black History Month Committee 1545 Raymond Diehl Road, Suite 250 Tallahassee, Florida 32308
All entries must be received by 5 pm (ET) on February 26, 2021.
For more information about the contests, please visit www.FloridaBlackHistory.com.
Celebration of Brevard County's Black History and Local Hero Contributions
Community Virtual Read-In Black History Month Virtual Read-Ins by Brevard ABSE
2021 Virtual African American Read-in, Black History Month by Brevard Alliance of Black School Educators (BrevardABSE)
The African-American Read-In “is the nation’s first and oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature. It was established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month. In the past, a few schools in Brevard hosted a Read-In by inviting parents and community members to schools to read books by African American authors to students. Although, COVID-19 safety measures prevent us from visiting schools this year, BrevardABSE is committed to continuing this tradition - virtually. Please enjoy the links below of virtual book read-ins by local educators and community members. Additional links will be added.
I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdson - read by Alton Edmond:
I Love My Family by Wade Hudson - read by Travia Williams: https://youtu.be/90fDUezJAbU
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell - read by Laurel Preston: https://youtu.be/TwRfhD91RhQ
Uncle Jed's Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell – read by Mark Blake
Salt in the Shoes by Delores Jordan and Rosalyn M. Jordan – read by Principal Anna Diaz
Bold Women in Black History by Maya Angelou – A special poem recited by local women in the Brevard community
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, read by Cocoa High Students - Iyonna and Kayla
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell read by Dr. Danielle McKinnon
I am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown read by Alberta Wilson, NCBW
My Nana and Me by Irene Smalls read by Mary Ivery
My Nana And Me - Mary Ivery - YouTube
Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson read by Dr. Mark Mullins
Additional read-ins will be added through the month.
The Lives and Legacy of Harry T. And Harriette V. Moore
The Lives and Legacy of Harry T. And Harriette V. Moore https://www.harryharriettemoore.org/
Nemours Youth CARE Art Showcase
Nemours Youth CARE Art Showcase
Nemours wants to listen, learn and take thoughtful actions toward sustained change. They are hosting a virtual art show, designed for community youth to create art on what racism means to them. Nemours wants to help spread our youths’ messages, through art, on what racial justice looks like to them. Join Nemours in being the voice of children’s health by sharing this information with the youth you serve for a chance to be featured in our Nemours Youth C.A.R.E. (Community Against Racism Events) Digital Art Showcase launching February 2021. Please visit Nemours FaceBook Link for more details on the showcase and requirements to participate:
Who was Katherine Johnson?Black History Hero | Katherine Johnson
Being handpicked to be one of three black students to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools is something that many people would consider one of their life’s most notable moments, but it’s just one of several breakthroughs that have marked Katherine Johnson’s long and remarkable life. Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia in 1918, Katherine Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers vaulted her ahead several grades in school. By thirteen, she was attending the high school on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College. At eighteen, she enrolled in the college itself, where she made quick work of the school’s math curriculum and found a mentor in math professor W. W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to earn a PhD in Mathematics. Katherine graduated with highest honors in 1937 and took a job teaching at a black public school in Virginia.
When West Virginia decided to quietly integrate its graduate schools in 1939, West Virginia State’s president Dr. John W. Davis selected Katherine and two male students as the first black students to be offered spots at the state’s flagship school, West Virginia University. Katherine left her teaching job, and enrolled in the graduate math program. At the end of the first session, however, she decided to leave school to start a family with her husband. She returned to teaching when her three daughters got older, but it wasn’t until 1952 that a relative told her about open positions at the all-black West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) Langley laboratory, headed by fellow West Virginian Dorothy Vaughan.
Katherine and her husband, James Goble, decided to move the family to Newport News to pursue the opportunity, and Katherine began work at Langley in the summer of 1953. Just two weeks into
Katherine’s tenure in the office, Dorothy Vaughan assigned her to a project in the Maneuver Loads Branch of the Flight Research Division, and Katherine’s temporary position soon became permanent. She spent the next four years analyzing data from flight test, and worked on the investigation of a plane crash caused by wake turbulence. As she was wrapping up this work her husband died of cancer in December 1956.
The 1957 launch of the Soviet Satellite Sputnik changed history—and Katherine Johnson’s life. In 1957, Katherine provided some of the math for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by engineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year. She did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s May 1961 mission Freedom 7, America’s first human spaceflight. In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski co-authored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.
In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon to do the work that she would become most known for. The complexity of the orbital flight had required the construction of a worldwide communications network, linking tracking stations around the world to IBM computers in Washington, DC, Cape Canaveral, and Bermuda. The computers had been programmed with the orbital equations that would control the trajectory of the capsule in Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, from blast off to splashdown, but the astronauts were wary of putting their lives in the care of the electronic calculating machines, which were prone to hiccups and blackouts.
As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to “get the girl”—Katherine Johnson—to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine. “If she says they’re good,’” Katherine Johnson remembers the astronaut saying, “then I’m ready to go.” Glenn’s flight was a success, and marked a turning point in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in space.
When asked to name her greatest contribution to space exploration, Katherine Johnson talks about the calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. She also worked on the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Satellite, and authored or coauthored 26 research reports. She retired in 1986, after thirty-three years at Langley. “I loved going to work every single day,” she says. In 2015, at age 97, Katherine Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.
Biography by Margot Lee Shetterly
Who was Louis Daniel Armstrong?Black History Heroes | Louis Daniel Armstrong
Louis Armstrong is perhaps the most important and influential person in the history of jazz music, swing music, and jazz vocal styling. His virtuosic ability with the trumpet, his distinctive gravelly low vocal style, his bright personality, and his band leadership abilities helped to build jazz into a popular musical genre and influenced nearly every jazz musician after him.
Louis Armstrong was born August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana into an impoverished family. In 1912 he fired a pistol in the air during a New Year’s celebration, was arrested, and sent to a waif’s home. It was here that he learned how to play the cornet. He immediately began playing in various jazz bands in and around New Orleans. From 1922 to 1924 Armstrong was a member of King Oliver’s band in Chicago, Illinois which was the most popular jazz band of the time. By 1924 as his playing abilities surpassed Oliver’s, Armstrong’s wife Lillian persuaded him to join Fletcher Henderson’s band in New York to move beyond Oliver’s shadow.
Armstrong brought to New York City a new, flowing, improvisational style of jazz that spread rapidly and influenced countless jazz musicians who were enthralled by it. Soon he began recording backup for blues artists like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. In 1925 he began his highly successful “Hot 5” albums. These albums introduced New Orleans jazz to a national audience, highlighted Armstrong’s virtuoso trumpet playing (he switched from cornet in 1927) and featured his “scat” singing style. Among his many hits were “Heebie Jeebies,” “Potato Head Blues,” “West End Blues,” and “Weather Bird.” By the early 1930s Armstrong had developed his talents as a showman as well, leading several big bands on a national stage, enjoying commercial success, and becoming a household name. He played several small parts in movies and took two trips to Europe, earning the nickname “America’s goodwill ambassador” for his warm caring demeanor and big heart.
Armstrong’s jovial demeanor changed in 1957 following the Little Rock Crisis. Scheduled for another goodwill tour of the Soviet Union, Armstrong angrily cancelled his concert to protest what he saw as American racist behavior particularly in the South in regard to the opposition to school desegregation, and in particular the inaction of President Dwight D. Eisenhower who initially seemed to allow Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus to block the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. Armstrong’s seemingly uncharacteristic angry protest reverberated around the world and led the State Department to urge the restoration of civil rights for black Americans to promote a positive image of the U.S. abroad over its major Cold War rival, the Soviet Union which used such incidents in its campaigns to win friends and allies in the Third World.
n 1947 he returned to his small band roots and formed the All-Stars sextet, embarking on a constant touring schedule of swing standards and Dixieland. Although jazz styles changed into the 1940s, Armstrong stuck with what he knew best, singing in his low, warm, gravelly voice, superior trumpet playing, and an endearing ability to appeal to diverse audiences with his personality and smile. Armstrong even reached #1 on the pop charts in 1964, at the age of 63, with the hit “Hello Dolly!” Louis Armstrong continued to perform until his death in 1971.
Who was Hattie McDaniel?Black History Hero | Hattie McDaniel
Actress and radio performer Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940, for her supporting role as Mammy in 'Gone With the Wind.'
Who Was Hattie McDaniel?
Actress Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1893, in Wichita, Kansas. By the mid-1920s, she became one of the first African-American women to perform on radio. In 1934, she landed her on-screen break in the film Judge Priest. She then became the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940, for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. In 1947, after her career took a downturn, she began starring on CBS radio's The Beulah Show. McDaniel died on October 26, 1952, in Los Angeles, California.
Academy Award for 'Gone with the Wind'
In 1939, McDaniel was widely seen in a film that would mark the highlight of her entertainment career. As Mammy, the house servant of Scarlett O'Hara (Vivian Leigh) in Gone With the Wind, McDaniel earned the 1940 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress—becoming the first African American to win an Oscar. Yet all of the film's black actors, including McDaniel, were barred from attending the film's premiere in 1939, aired at the Loew's Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hollywood Hits: 'Judge Priest' and 'The Little Colonel'
McDaniel landed a major on-screen role in 1934, singing a duet with Will Rogers in John Ford's Judge Priest. The following year, she was awarded the role of Mom Beck, starring opposite Shirley Temple and Lionel Barrymore in The Little Colonel. The part gained McDaniel the attention of Hollywood directors, and was followed by a steady stream of offers, including the part of Queenie in the 1936 film adaptation of Showboat, with Irene Dunne. (McDaniel had previously toured with the stage version of the Kern and Hammerstein musical as well.)
Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1893, in Wichita, Kansas, with some sources listing her year of birth as 1895. She was her parents' 13th child. Her father, Henry, was a Civil War veteran who suffered greatly from war injuries and had a difficult time with manual labor. (Henry was later described by one of his sons as a minister, though this was a fictionalized account.) Her mother, Susan Holbert, was a domestic worker.
In 1901, McDaniel and her family moved to Denver, Colorado. There she attended the 24th Street Elementary School, where she was one of only two black students in her class. Her natural flair for singing—in church, at school and in her home—was apparent early on and gained her popularity among her classmates.
Radio and Vaudeville Performer
While at East River High School, McDaniel started professionally singing, dancing and performing skits in shows as part of The Mighty Minstrels. In 1909, she decided to drop out of school in order to more fully focus on her fledgling career, performing with her older brother's own troupe. In 1911, she married pianist Howard Hickman and went on to organize an all- women's minstrel show.
In the 1920s, McDaniel worked with Professor George Morrison's orchestra and toured with his and other vaudeville troops for several years. By mid- decade, she was invited to perform on Denver's KOA radio station.
Following her radio performance, McDaniel continued to work the vaudeville circuit and established herself as a blues artist, writing her own work. When projects weren't coming in, she took on attendant work to supplement her income. Much to her relief, in 1929 she landed a steady gig as a vocalist at Sam Pick's Suburban Inn in Milwaukee.
Pursuing the Hollywood Dream
A year or so later, McDaniel's brother, Sam, and sister, Etta, convinced her to move to Los Angeles, where they had managed to procure minor movie roles for themselves. Sam was also a regular on a KNX radio show called The Optimistic Do-Nuts. Not long after arriving in L.A., McDaniel had a chance to appear on her brother's program. She was a quick hit with listeners and was dubbed "Hi Hat Hattie" for donning formal wear during her first KNX performance.
In 1931, McDaniel scored her first small film role as an extra in a Hollywood musical. Then in 1932, she was featured as a housekeeper in The Golden West. McDaniel continued to land parts here and there, but as roles for black actors were hard to come by, she was again forced to take odd jobs to make ends meet.
Late Career Success: 'The Beulah Show'
During World War II, McDaniel helped entertain American troops and promoted the sale of war bonds, but she soon found the film offers to be drying up. She responded by making a strategic return to radio, taking over the starring role on CBS radio’s The Beulah Show in 1947. In 1951, McDaniel started filming for the television version of The Beulah Show. Unexpectedly, she suffered a heart attack around the same time, and was forced to abandon her career upon being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Controversy Over Stereotypes
Since playing Mom Beck in The Little Colonel, McDaniel had been attacked by the black media for taking parts that perpetuated a negative stereotype of her race; she was criticized for playing servants and slaves who were seemingly content to retain their role as such.
Walter White, then head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, pleaded with African-American actors to stop accepting such stereotypical parts, as he believed they degraded their community. He also urged movie studios to start creating roles that portrayed blacks as capable of achieving far more than cooking and cleaning for white people.
In her defense, McDaniel responded by asserting her prerogative to accept whatever roles she chose. She also suggested that characters like Mammy proved themselves as more than just measuring up to their employers.
Death and Posthumous Recognition
Hattie McDaniel lost her battle with cancer in Los Angeles, California, on October 26, 1952. After her death, the groundbreaking actress was posthumously awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1975, and honored with a commemorative U.S. postage stamp in 2006.
A well-received biography on her life was published in 2005—Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, by Jill Watts. In early 2018, it was revealed that producer Alysia Allen had obtained the film rights to the book and was looking to develop a biopic.
Who was Dr. Gladys West?Black History Hero | Dr. Gladys West
GPS or the Global Positioning System is something that we use every day. From finding your local supermarket, checking your directions if you get lost or mapping out your daily commute to avoid traffic, GPS is with us everywhere we go. It has literally changed the way we work, play and live.
While billions of people use GPS in their car or on their phone, many don’t know that a Black woman is behind the creation of it. That’s right, Dr. Gladys West, a Black woman from Virginia was instrumental in creating the device we use today. And now, she’s finally getting her recognition that’s long overdue.
On December 6, the 87-year-old West was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame by the United States Air Force during a ceremony at the Pentagon.
As a girl growing up in Dinwiddie County south of Richmond in the late 1930’s early 1940’s, all Gladys (maiden name, Brown) knew was that she didn’t want to work in the fields, picking tobacco, corn and cotton, or in a nearby factory, beating tobacco leaves into pieces small enough for cigarettes and pipes, as her parents did.
“I realized I had to get an education to get out,” she said. When she learned that the valedictorian and salutatorian from her high school would earn a scholarship to Virginia State College (now University), she studied hard and graduated at the top of her class.
She earned her free ticket to college, majored in math and taught two years in Sussex County before she went back to school for her master’s degree.
In 1956 West began to work at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, where she was the second black woman ever to be employed. West began to collect data from satellites, eventually leading to the development of Global Positioning System. Her supervisor Ralph Neiman recommended her as project manager for the Seasat radar altimetry project, the first satellite that could remotely sense oceans. In 1979, Neiman recommended West for commendation. West was a programmer in the Dahlgren Division for large-scale computers and a project manager for data-processing systems used in the analysis of satellite data.
In 1986, West published “Data Processing System Specifications for the Geosat Satellite Radar Altimeter”, a 60-page illustrated guide. The Naval Surface Weapons Center (NSWC) guide was published to explain how to increase the accuracy of the estimation of “geoid heights and vertical deflection”, topics of satellite geodesy. This was achieved by processing the data created from the radio altimeter on the Geosat satellite which went into orbit on 12 March 1984. She worked at Dahlgren for 42 years, retiring in 1998. Her contributions to GPS were only uncovered when a member of West’s sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, read a short biography West had submitted for an alumni function.
West’s humble nature actually kept people from knowing how instrumental she was in the development of the device for decades. West admits that she had no idea at the time, when she was recording satellite locations and doing accompanying calculations—that her work would affect so many.
Who was John Mercer Langston?Black History Hero | John Mercer Langston, U.S. Representative.
Black leader, educator and diplomat John Mercer Langston is known as the first African- American lawyer in Ohio and the first black person to be elected to public office in the United States.
John Mercer Langston was born on December 14, 1829, in Louisa County, Virginia. In 1854, Langston became the first African-American lawyer in Ohio. In 1888, he became the first African American to win a congressional election in the state of Virginia, having run as a Republican candidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Langston served in Congress from 1890 to 1891. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1897.
Early Life and Education
John Mercer Langston was born in Louisa County, Virginia, on December 14, 1829, the fourth child of a white slaveholder father and an emancipated slave mother. Both parents died when he was a child, and Langston received a large inheritance.
After living briefly with a family friend in Chillicothe, Ohio, Langston moved to Cincinnati, where he became focused on establishing civil rights for black citizens. He attended Oberlin College, and got involved in debate. After completing his undergraduate degree, Langston continued his studies at Oberlin, earning a master's degree in theology. He was not accepted into law school, however. Determined, Langston studied privately in Elyria, Ohio, and passed the bar exam in 1854—becoming the first African-American lawyer in the state of Ohio.
Langston established a law practice in Brownhelm, Ohio, where he was also elected town clerk in 1854—making him the first African American to hold elected office within the United States. In 1856, Langston relocated to Oberlin and worked as a city councilman from 1865 to 1867. The following year, he became a member of the Oberlin Board of Education.
Civil War Efforts
During his early career, Langston assisted many runaway slaves along Ohio's Underground Railroad and founded anti-slavery societies. As the Civil War began, he helped recruit and assemble Union troops, including the first black regiment in the nation, the Massachusetts 54th.
Named leader of the National Equal Rights League in 1864, Langston committed himself to suffrage after the war. Three years after the war ended, in 1870, black males received the right to vote.
Langston became involved with Howard University, an African-American institution, setting up the school's law department in 1868 and later serving as acting president. He ran for the university's presidency in 1875, but was removed from running due to his race.
In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Langston U.S. minister to Haiti, a position that he would hold for the next seven years. In 1885, Langston was elected president of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute.
In 1888, Langston won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first African American to win a congressional election in the state of Virginia. The race caused bitter division between both racial and party lines. Fearing division of the Republican Party, Frederick Douglass fiercely opposed Langston's candidacy. Though his seat was contested for nearly two years, Langston served in Congress from September 23, 1890, to March 3, 1891. Langston married fellow Oberlin student and abolitionist Caroline Wall in 1854. The couple had five children. On November 15, 1897, three years after his retirement, Langston died in Washington, D.C.
Who was Booker T. Washington?Booker T. Washington
Educator Booker T. Washington was one of the foremost African- American leaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founding the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now known as Tuskegee University.
Who Was Booker T. Washington?
Born into slavery in Virginia in the mid-to-late 1850s, Booker T. Washington put himself through school and became a teacher after the Civil War. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as Tuskegee University), which grew immensely and focused on training African Americans in agricultural pursuits. A political adviser and writer, Washington clashed with intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois over the best avenues for racial uplift.
In 1872, Booker T. Washington left home and walked 500 miles to Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Along the way he took odd jobs to support himself. He convinced administrators to let him attend the school and took a job as a janitor to help pay his tuition. The school's founder and headmaster, General Samuel C. Armstrong, soon discovered the hardworking boy and offered him a scholarship, sponsored by a white man. Armstrong had been a commander of a Union African-American regiment during the Civil War and was a strong supporter of providing newly freed slaves with a practical education. Armstrong became Washington's mentor, strengthening his values of hard work and strong moral character.
Booker T. Washington graduated from Hampton in 1875 with high marks. For a time, he taught at his old grade school in Malden, Virginia, and attended Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. In 1879, he was chosen to speak at Hampton's graduation ceremonies, where afterward General Armstrong offered Washington a job teaching at Hampton. In 1881, the Alabama legislature approved $2,000 for a "colored" school, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University). General Armstrong was asked to recommend a white man to run the school, but instead recommended Booker T. Washington. Classes were first held in an old church, while Washington traveled all over the countryside promoting the school and raising money. He reassured whites that nothing in the Tuskegee program would threaten white supremacy or pose any economic competition to whites.
Booker T. Washington Books
With the aid of ghost writers, Washington wrote a total of five books: The Story of My Life and Work (1900), Up from Slavery (1901), The Story of the Negro: The Rise of the Race from Slavery (1909), My Larger Education (1911), and The Man Farthest Down (1912).
Under Booker T. Washington's leadership, Tuskegee became a leading school in the country. At his death, it had more than 100 well-equipped buildings, 1,500 students, a 200-member faculty teaching 38 trades and professions, and a nearly $2 million endowment. Washington put much of himself into the school's curriculum, stressing the virtues of patience, enterprise, and thrift. He taught that economic success for African Americans would take time, and that subordination to whites was a necessary evil until African Americans could prove they were worthy of full economic and political rights. He believed that if African Americans worked hard and obtained financial independence and cultural advancement, they would eventually win acceptance and respect from the white community.
Booker T. Washington's Beliefs
In 1895, Booker T. Washington publicly put forth his philosophy on race relations in a speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, known as the "Atlanta Compromise." In his speech, Washington stated that African Americans should accept disenfranchisement and social segregation as long as whites allow them economic progress, educational opportunity and justice in the courts.
Booker T. Washington vs W.E.B. Du Bois
This started a firestorm in parts of the African-American community, especially in the North. Activists like W.E.B. Du Bois (who was working as a professor at Atlanta University at the time) deplored Washington's conciliatory philosophy and his belief that African Americans were only suited to vocational training. Du Bois criticized Washington for not demanding equality for African Americans, as granted by the 14th Amendment, and subsequently became an advocate for full and equal rights in every realm of a person's life.
Though Washington had done much to help advance many African Americans, there was some truth in the criticism. During Washington's rise as a national spokesperson for African Americans, they were systematically excluded from the vote and political participation through black codes and Jim Crow laws as rigid patterns of segregation and discrimination became institutionalized throughout the South and much of the country.
White House Dinner with Theodore Roosevelt
In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House, making him the first African American to be so honored. But the fact that Roosevelt asked Washington to dine with him (inferring the two were equal) was unprecedented and controversial, causing an ferocious uproar among whites.
Both President Roosevelt and his successor, President William Howard Taft, used Washington as an adviser on racial matters, partly because he accepted racial subservience. His White House visit and the publication of his autobiography, Up from Slavery, brought him both acclaim and indignation from many Americans. While some African Americans looked upon Washington as a hero, others, like Du Bois, saw him as a traitor. Many Southern whites, including some prominent members of Congress, saw Washington's success as an affront and called for action to put African Americans "in their place."
Born to a slave on April 5, 1856, Booker Taliaferro Washington's life had little promise early on. In Franklin County, Virginia, as in most states prior to the Civil War, the child of a slave became a slave. Booker's mother, Jane, worked as a cook for plantation owner James Burroughs. His father was an unknown white man, most likely from a nearby plantation. Booker and his mother lived in a one-room log cabin with a large fireplace, which also served as the plantation’s kitchen. At an early age, Booker went to work carrying sacks of grain to the plantation’s mill. Toting 100-pound sacks was hard work for a small boy, and he was beaten on occasion for not performing his duties satisfactorily. Booker's first exposure to education was from the outside of a school house near the plantation; looking inside, he saw children his age sitting at desks and reading books. He wanted to do what those children were doing, but he was a slave, and it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write.
After the Civil War, Booker and his mother moved to Malden, West Virginia, where she married freedman Washington Ferguson. The family was very poor, and nine-year-old Booker went to work in the nearby salt furnaces with his stepfather instead of going to school. Booker's mother noticed his interest in learning and got him a book from which he learned the alphabet and how to read and write basic words. Because he was still working, he got up nearly every morning at 4 a.m. to practice and study. At about this time, Booker took the first name of his stepfather as his last name, Washington.
In 1866, Booker T. Washington got a job as a houseboy for Viola Ruffner, the wife of coal mine owner Lewis Ruffner. Mrs. Ruffner was known for being very strict with her servants, especially boys. But she saw something in Booker— his maturity, intelligence and integrity—and soon warmed up to him. Over the two years he worked for her, she understood his desire for an education and allowed him to go to school for an hour a day during the winter months.
Death and Legacy
Booker T. Washington was a complex individual, who lived during a precarious time in advancing racial equality. On one hand, he was openly supportive of African Americans taking a "back seat" to whites, while on the other he secretly financed several court cases challenging segregation. By 1913, Washington had lost much of his influence. The newly inaugurated Wilson administration was cool to the idea of racial integration and African- American equality.
Booker T. Washington remained the head of Tuskegee Institute until his death on November 14, 1915, at the age of 59, of congestive heart failure.