This year, in recognition of 2021 Black History Month, the Black Student Union (BSU) club at Collinsville High School compiled resources to help CUSD 10 celebrate the contributions of notable African American women, inventors and pioneers.
BSU members identified, researched and wrote about prominent African Americans and their accomplishments. Each school day during February, a different person from the list will be shared with CHS students during Morning Announcements. The information was also shared with other schools in the district, so principals could incorporate it into announcements or other Black History Month activities.
BSU members will decorate CHS with posters and decorations; and sponsor a door decorating contest to involve all classrooms in the month-long celebration. Black History Month buttons ($3 each) were sold and theme days will be announced throughout February.
To allow students to fully participate when remote learning, the BSU built a slide show with links to provide more information. As students view the Black History Month presentation they can use the embedded links to learn more.
Click the image below to view the slide show.
Videos Produced by Black Student Union:
In this video, Sean Brown, vice president of the CHS Black Student Union, interviews Dr. Eric L Johnson, principal of Winnetonka High School in the North Kansas City School District, about the importance of honoring Black history.
The Black Student Union’s second 2021 Black History Month focuses on entrepreneurship. BSU member and young entrepreneur Aaliyah Bell highlights well-known trailblazers and interviews Entrepreneur and Intellectual Property Attorney Mia LeFlore.
Learn more about the people highlighted in this year’s Black History Month Celebration of Excellence:
Notable African American Women:
Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman also worked for the Union Army as an armed scout and spy. She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 enslaved people.
Mary Mcleod Bethune was an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, civil rights activist and advisor to five different US Presidents. She was the founder of the McLeod Hospital in Daytona Beach Florida, the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, and Bethune-Cookman College.
Ida B. Wells was an American investigative journalist, educator, and early leader in the civil rights movement. She was also one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mrs. Wells used her writing talents and her newspaper to publish pamphlets against lynching. She was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in fighting lynching.
First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is a lawyer, writer and the wife of the 44th President, Barack Obama. She is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Through her four main initiatives, she became a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families, higher education, and international adolescent girls education.
Week 2: Notable African American Inventors, including:
George Carruthers is an astrophysicist who spent much of his career working with the Space Science Division of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. He’s most famous for creating the ultraviolet camera/spectrograph, which NASA used when it launched Apollo 16 in 1972. Carruthers was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003.
Dr. Patricia Bath revolutionized the field of ophthalmology when she invented a device that refined laser cataract surgery, called the Laserphaco Probe. She patented the invention in 1988, and today she’s recognized as the first African American woman doctor to receive a medical patent.
Mark Dean is a computer scientist & engineer who worked for IBM, where he led the team that designed the ISA bus—the hardware interface that allows multiple devices like printers, modems and keyboards to be plugged into a computer. He also helped to invent the first color computer monitor and the first gigahertz computer chip. Dean was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997.
Dr. Shirley Jackson is a theoretical physicist. She helped develop technologies that led to the invention of the portable fax, touch-tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables and the technology enabling caller ID and call waiting. Dr. Jackson is also the first black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. from M.I.T., and the first to be named chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In 2016, President Obama presented Dr. Jackson with the National Medal of Science.
Week 3: African American Pioneer Groups, including:
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps. 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. Before the Tuskegee Airmen, no African-American had been a U.S. military pilot.
Negro League Baseball got its start thanks to the increasing popularity of two things after the Civil War: baseball and segregation. The National Association of Amateur Baseball Players rejected African American membership in 1867, and in 1876, owners of the professional National League adopted a “gentleman’s agreement” to keep Black players out. Subsequent African American players found their greatest opportunities with traveling teams until 1920, when Rube Foster launched the Negro National League. It launched with eight teams: Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs and the St. Louis Giants. Some of the stars of the Negro Leagues are Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell.
African American Pioneers of Hollywood: Black Hollywood History started when movies started screening across America in 1896 shortly after the Supreme Court sanctioned racism in the Separate But Equal ruling. Movies were the principal medium to communicate news, social customs and visual entertainment to millions of Americans each week. Thus, Hollywood movies shaped America’s perception of African Americans. In 1905, most African-Americans portrayed in Hollywood films were white actors in blackface. The actors in blackface would portray African American men as slow talking, dim witted and lazy. In the 1930’s when African Americans were finally allowed to participate in films, the roles they were given were mainly stereotypical, servant or musical roles. In the late 1940’s African Americans were finally starting to get better movie rolls, which jump-started the careers of many famous actors such as Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, and more.
Children of the Civil Rights Movement: In 1954 the United States Supreme Court ruled segregation in the school setting was against the law. Brown vs. The Board of Education was the landmark case that made this ruling possible. However, defeating segregation would be a much harder fight than anticipated. In 1957 when nine African American students would attempt to integrate Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas, they would be stopped at the front door by the national guard, under the order of the Arkansas Governor. It took President Eisenhower sending in federal troops for the students to be allowed into the school. Two years later, six year old Ruby Bridges would join the civil rights movement by integrating her elementary school. She was escorted to school every day that year by federal marshals due to the crowds of people waiting for her. Only one teacher agreed to teach her, and all the other students were removed from her class. She ate lunch and played at recess with her teacher only.
Week 4: New Generation Civil Rights Pioneers, including:
Stacey Abrams is an American politician, lawyer, voting rights activist, and author who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017, serving as minority leader from 2011 to 2017. In 2018, Mrs. Abrams founded Fair Fight Action, an organization to address voter suppression. Her efforts have been widely credited with boosting voter turnout in Georgia during the 2020 election.
Tamika Mallory is an American activist. She was one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March, for which she and her three other co-chairs were recognized in Time magazine’s 100 influential people edition. Ms. Mallory is also the founder of Until Freedom, a social justice organization.
S. Lee Merritt esq. is a federal civil rights attorney and activist. Mr. Merritt is a graduate of Morehouse University, a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) in Atlanta Georgia. He started his career with the Cochran Firm before going into private practice. Mr Merritt was the attorney for the families of Ahmaud Arbrey, George Floyd and Atatiana Jefferson.
Joanna Kelly, sponsor of the CHS BSU said, “Thank you Kahok family for your participation in this very important celebration of African American achievements and history. History, and even present events have shown us, we can do anything if we work together. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.'”
Watch for information on more Black History Month activities sponsored by the Multicultural Kahoks!