Tip 125: February 2019 – Famous African American Heroes
Website Educational Tip for Language and Literacy Development
February is African American History Month. The following two stories are
about famous African American heroes in Jessica B. Harris’s book A Kwanzaa Keepsake. They were chosen because they
portray courageous people of color who transcended boundaries and who show
extraordinary courage and achievements. The goal of these stories is to
expose young children to a variety of multicultural experiences about life
that include respect for diversity. To accomplish this, diversity needs to
take place naturally in everyday events and activities that relate to young
children at both home and at play. Teaching tolerance through these
everyday experiences will help children understand and respect not only
their own but other cultures as well.
Mary McLeod Bethune
was born of former slaves in Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875. She was
one of seventeen children and was the only one selected to go to school. It
was felt that she would teach her brothers and sisters which she did. She
attended Scotia College in North Carolina, and Moody Bible Institute in
Chicago. She moved to Daytona, Florida and opened her own school. By 1923
it had 300 students and a staff of 25. It would ultimately become
Bethune-Cookman College. She became an advisor to President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt and was the first African American woman to direct the Division
of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration during his New Deal.
She died in 1955 at the age of 80.
was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1908 the grandson of an African-born
slave. He attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Howard University
Law School in Washington DC. He then entered private law practice with an
interest in the growing Civil Rights Movement. In 1938 he became the chief
council for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP). In 1961 he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals and
worked on numerous civil rights cases. He was appointed associate justice
of the United States Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.
He sat on the Supreme Court until his retirement in 1991. He died two years
later at the age of 85.
Books with African-American Children
– Adults should read infants books that have pictures of African-American
Children. By rereading these books a number of times, infants become
familiar and gain a better understanding of the stories and cultural
concepts they might not understand in just one reading.
African-American Children Puppets
– Make African-American stick puppets by taking photograph of
African-American children in picture books. Print and cut them out, and
mount them on tongue depressors using glue, tape or staples. Have the
toddlers use the puppets to act out the experiences from the picture book.
– Ask the children to collect many pictures representative of
African-American people from magazines and newspapers. Glue them on a large
piece of construction paper to make a collage. Talk about what the people
in the pictures are doing. It is possible to use some of these as stick
puppets especially sports figures such as baseball or football players.
Understanding Racial and Cultural Heritage
: Numerous research studies about the early process of
identity and attitude development conclude that children lean by observing
the differences and similarities about people around them and by absorbing
the spoken and unspoken messages about those differences.
Nobody will think you’re somebody if you don’t think so yourself.
(Traditional African-American Expression)