Lessons in Black History – MARSHALL “MAJOR” TAYLOR

February 19, 2019

Marshall “Major” Taylor—The son of a Civil War veteran, and one of eight children, Marshall Taylor and his family moved from Kentucky to Indiana, where his father went to work for a wealthy white family. Taylor became friends with Dan Southard, the son of his father’s employer. The Southards afforded Marshall a good life and…

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Lessons in Black History – Bessie Coleman and Willa Brown

February 18, 2019

BESSIE COLEMAN and WILLA BROWN – Two pioneering aviators, the life stories of both Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman (above) and Willa Brown (below) define courage and tenacity. Coleman was born to sharecropper parents—the tenth of thirteen children—and dreamed of a better life. She moved to Chicago in 1915, and worked as a manicurist in a barbershop,…

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Lessons in Black History – ALTHEA GIBSON

February 17, 2019

ALTHEA GIBSON– Long before the Williams sisters took the world of tennis by storm, there was Althea Gibson, the South Carolina-born woman who broke the color barrier of competitive tennis. Gibson’s family moved to Harlem in the 1930s, and it was there that she became involved in tennis. She had a successful career in the…

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Lessons in Black History – BASS REEVES

February 16, 2019

Bass Reeves – Born a slave in 1838, Bass Reeves escaped to freedom in the early 1860s. Fleeing north to the Indian Territories (Oklahoma), he lived for a time with different Native American tribes, becoming fluent in various languages. In 1875, U.S. marshal James Fagan recruited Reeves as a deputy U.S. marshal, in part because…

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Lessons in Black History – Claudette Colvin (plus Mary Louise Smith and Irene Morgan Kirkaldy)

February 15, 2019

Claudette Colvin – Rosa Parks is considered the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement for not giving up her seat on a segregated bus in December 1955. Parks’s act of defiance has been recorded by history as being the spark that set off the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was in turn crucial in ending segregation.…

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Lessons in Black History – The Lovings

February 14, 2019

Richard and Mildred Loving – On June 12, 1967, the United States Supreme Court made a landmark decision in the case of Loving vs. Virginia, effectively clearing the way for interracial marriages in all fifty states. When the court ruled on the case, sixteen states still had anti-miscegenation laws that made it illegal for people…

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Lessons in Black History – BLACK BASKETBALL PLAYERS

February 13, 2019

Black Basketball Players—It seems impossible to believe that there was ever a time when basketball was a segregated sport, but up until the 1950-51 season, the NBA was a white-only league. Before the NBA desegregated, the only integrated basketball league was the National Basketball League (NBL), which had been around since 1937 and became integrated…

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Lessons in Black History – Mary Ellen Pleasant

February 12, 2019

Mary Ellen Pleasant—Much has been written about the woman known to many as Mammy Pleasant, but so much of it is tall tales and legends, it is difficult to know what is true and what is not. What is known is that Mary Ellen Pleasant was a famous abolitionist and Underground Railroad operator who was…

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Lessons in Black History – NOBLE JOHNSON

February 11, 2019

Noble Johnson – Born in 1881, actor and filmmaker Noble Johnson appeared in his first movie in 1915. His career spanned five decades, including 144 films, and incredibly, he never played an African-American character (although he did play many jungle savages). Johnson was a contemporary and friend of legendary actor Lon Chaney, Sr., and like…

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Lessons in Black History – Mary “Stagecoach Mary” Fields

February 10, 2019

Mary “Stagecoach Mary” Fields – Born a slave in Tennessee (most likely in 1832), Mary Fields, also known as “Stagecoach Mary,” would go on to become one of the most legendary figures in the settling of the Old West. After the Civil War, Fields made her way west, to Cascade County in Montana. She took…

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