Tag Archives: black history

Shirley Chisholm on Handicaps

“Of my two ‘handicaps,’ being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black.”

Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed introduction (1970)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Mary McLeod Bethune

On the first day of Women’s History Month 2021, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Mary McLeod Bethune.

While I would like to think Ms. Bethune requires no introduction, it seems safe to doubt that is the case. This important American heroine was an early and unequivocal champion of gender and racial equality, as well as an educator. In 1904, she started the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Negro Girls. By 1931, her school had grown to such an extent that it became Bethune-Cookman University, now one of the preeminent Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.

In other words, Mary McLeod Bethune is a world-historical figure. All of this is another way of saying this: to those southern cities taking down statues of white men to fought for (Confederate generals and political leaders), argued for (Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney) or otherwise abetted the practice of slavery in the United States, a nice bronze casting of Mary McLeod Bethune would make an appropriate, indeed just, replacement for any of those vacant plinths. You know?

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

A Black History Month 2021 Coda: C.L.R. James on Rich and Poor

“The patience and forbearance of the poor are among the strongest bulwarks of the rich.”

C.L.R. JamesThe Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage 1989.

Frederick Douglass on What Is Necessary for Progress in the United States

“It is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake, The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”

Frederick Douglass, Speech, Rochester, New York, 5 July 1852

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, February 19, 2020, Black History Month 2021 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on George Washington Carver

This week’s Text, in this blog’s ongoing observance of Black History Month 2021, is this reading on George Washington Carver along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Today is the final Friday of Black History Month for this year; on Monday, March 1, this blog turns the corner to Women’s History Month.

Professor Carver is a staple of Black History, and usually observations of him tend to emphasize his interest in the peanut and its infinite varieties. While I don’t want to minimize those accomplishments–I for one would be very interested in knowing what Professor Carver’s recipes have added to the gross domestic product of the United States since their inception–I think it’s important to remember that George Washington Carver was a sophisticated agronomist who understood the need to rotate crops in southern fields so that cotton wouldn’t exhaust the topsoil. Alone, this area of his scholarly career makes Professor Carver an early environmentalist.

And all of this he accomplished while on the faculty of Tuskegee University in Alabama, in the heart of the Jim Crow South. If we White Americans are going to he honest with ourselves, we must stipulate that being a smart Black man in Alabama in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries could be dangerous indeed. For Americans of African descent, subservience and deference were the orders of the day in the Jim Crow South. His commitment to educating poor farmers also would have put him in the crosshairs of, say, the Ku Klux Klan.

So let’s all tip our hats to this great man.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Dick Gregory on the Moral and Intellectual Certainty of the White Race

“You gotta say this for the white race—its self-confidence knows no bounds. Who else could go to a small island in the South Pacific where there’s no poverty, no crime, no unemployment, no war, and no worry—and call it a ‘primitive society.’”

Dick Gregory, From the Back of the Bus (1962)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Black Panthers

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Black Panthers. Because the authors of The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, from which, like all the books I use to inform instructional material, I copy verbatim, use the term “Black Panthers,” I have preserved their text.

However, I have always thought of the Panthers, and therefore referred to them as the Black Panther Party, which is how they refer to themselves, and which represents them as the agents of history I would argue they have been in my lifetime.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Octavia Butler

“Octavia Butler: (1947-2006) American novelist and short-story writer. Butler, who is the first black woman to achieve recognition for writing science fiction, has won the top honors in her field, the Hugo and Nebula awards. She is best known as the author of the Patternist series (Patternmaster, 1976; Mind of My Mind, 1977; Survivor, 1978; Wild Seed, 1980; Clay’s Ark, 1984), based on a society whose inhabitants have evolved telepathic powers. The most successful of her other novels is Kindred (1979), the tale of Dana Franklin, who is mysteriously transported from her 1975 Los Angeles home across time and space to emerge in 1830s Maryland as a free black woman in a slave state. Other works include Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989), the Xenogenesis trilogy, and Parable of the Sower (1993).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Cultural Literacy: W.E.B. Du Bois

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on W.E.B. Du Bois. He is a world-historical figure about whom, I confess, I know less than I should.

Fortunately, I found my way to the rich public programming at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where I have been attending particularly rich and edifying webinars on Monday afternoons. These are open to the public; if you’re on Twitter, simply follow the Beinecke, which regularly tweets about upcoming events. Otherwise, searching “Mondays at Beinecke” (or clicking on that hyperlink) will take you to a calendar of events at the Library.

In any case, the Beinecke possesses some of W.E.B. Du Bois’s papers, which came to the Library by way of one of the major collections at the library, the James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson Papers, which is a treasure trove of materials related to Black History in the United States in the twentieth century.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Hank Aaron

“Aaron, Hank: (orig. Henry Louis) (1934-2021) U.S. baseball player. Born in Mobile, Alabama, he played briefly in the Negro and minor leagues before joining the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. He would play outfield most of his career. By the time the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1965, he had hit 398 career home runs; in 1974 he hit his 715th, breaking Babe Ruth’s record. He played his final two seasons (1975-76) with the Milwaukee Brewers. His records for career home runs (755), extra-base hits (1,477), and runs batted in (2,297) remain unbroken, and only Ty Cobb and Pete Rose exceeded him in career hits (3,771). He is renowned as one of the greatest hitters of all time.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.