For Intellectual (Cognitive) Developement

"Tip 137: February 2020 - Famous African Americans in History "
   February, 2020

Tip 137: February 2020 – Famous African Americans in History

Website Educational Tip for Language and Literacy Development

February is African American History Month. The following two stories are
about famous African American heroes inJessica 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.

Fannie Lou Hammer
was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi in 1917. She was the youngest of
20 children born to a family of sharecroppers where she had been working
since the age of 6. She had been forced to leave school at the age of 13.
In 1962, she attended a rally given by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee, where disenfranchised blacks were asked to volunteer to register
to vote. She was finally registered in 1963 and she immediately began to
help others. Her activism led her to the vice-chairmanship of the
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and from there to the Democratic
National Convention in Atlantic City, NJ where she crystallized the
thoughts of hundreds of thousands of black Americans when she said simply
and eloquently, “I’m just sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Uneducated poor and black, she worked from and for her community. She used
the tools she had – her homegrown wisdom, her heartfelt eloquence, and her
unflagging courage to change the system for herself and all others like

John Merrick
was born in Clinton, North Carolina in 1859 as a slave. At the age of 12 he
was sent to work as a laborer in a brickyard in Chapel Hill, he also
learned to read and write. After he was freed he moved his family to
Raleigh where he learned the trade of barbering and eventually the owner of
5 barbershops. He began to invest in real estate and along with 6 friends
opened the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association an industrial
insurance business whose motto is “Merciful to All.” A portion of the
company’s proceeds was to be turned over to the Colored Orphan Asylum in
Oxford, North Carolina. The company that Merrick began has been providing
mortgages for African Americans around the country, in aiding the creation
of new businesses and it lives on even though he died in 1919.

Gospel Music
– Adults should go to the library and get CD’s of music and then at quiet
times sit with the infants in their lap and rock them to the sounds of the
music to help them gain an understanding of cultural concepts.

Children’s Paper Plate Faces
– Have the children make their own face on the paper plate using diverse
multicultural colored crayons. Mount them on tongue depressors using glue,
tape or staples. Have the toddlers use them to act out stories about their
own lives.

Family History Booklet
– Have the children put 4 sheets of construction paper together fold them
in half and staple them together at the fold to make a booklet. Put the
child’s name and picture on the cover. Have them take it home and asked
their parents to help fill in the pages. On the back of the front cover
should be their mother and father. Write their names, address, phone
number, birthdays, where they were born. The next page should be the
grandmother and grandfather on their mother’s side, and on the back should
be their grandmother and grandfather on their father’s side with all the
same information - their names, address, phone number, birthdays, and where
they were born. The next page should be aunts and uncles on mother’s side
and on the back father’s side with all the same information and on the next
page cousins on mother’s side and on the back father’s side the same way
again with same information. Have the child draw pictures or have parents
put in photos.

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.

Knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it can not be

(Guinean Proverb)