In the spirit of African American History Month, we pause to celebrate and honor our African American employees for the contributions they make to Evolver’s success every day. And, to all employees, we hope you will find the information in this message informative and gain a better understanding of why diversity is important to Evolver and to the nation.
The theme for this year’s African American History Month is “Crisis in Black Education”. The crisis in black education began during slavery when it was unlawful for slaves to learn to read and write. Before the Civil War, in northern cities, free black children were forced to walk long distances past white schools on their way to schools specifically for them that were segregated, but not equally resourced. In Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education facilities for blacks and whites at the state level. The Civil rights Act of 1964 overturned all state and local laws requiring segregation.
African American history is rich in centuries-old efforts of resistance to this crisis: the slaves’ surreptitious endeavors to learn, the rise of black colleges and universities after the Civil War, unrelenting battles in the courts, the black history movement, the freedom schools of the 1960s, and local community-based academic and mentorship programs that inspire a love of learning and thirst for achievement. Addressing the crisis in black education is one of the most important goals in America’s past, present, and future.
Well-known African Americans like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks are often honored during this month, but lesser-known men and women made great impacts in education and on society by breaking barriers for future African Americans and by creating opportunities for children. As we celebrate African American History Month this year, let us honor some of those lesser-known men and women to include:
Ramona Edelin: With Edelin’s direction, the National Urban Coalition started the “Say Yes to a Youngster’s Future” program to provide educational help to black teachers and youth in America, eventually teaming with the Department of Education.
Carlotta Walls LaNier: After the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, the Little Rock Nine students braved much harassment and integrated a high school in 1957. LaNier was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine.
Daniel Hale Williams: Williams studied medicine at Chicago Medical College. After his apprenticeship he went into private practice in an integrated neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Determined that Chicago should have a hospital where both black and white doctors could study and where black nurses could be trained, he opened Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, the first integrated hospital, in 1891.
Kelly Miller: Miller worked his way through Howard University and did postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins, the first African American to be admitted to Johns Hopkins. Miller was the country’s first African American student to receive a master’s degree, which he received from Howard University in 1901. He became dean of Howard’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1907.
Fanny Jackson Coppin: After graduating from Oberlin College in 1860, Coppin began teaching Latin, Greek, and mathematics at the Institute for Colored Youth where she served as principal of the girl’s high school. In 1869 she became head principal of the Institute; she was the first African-American woman in the country to hold such a position.
Booker T. Washington: Probably the most famous black educator ever, Washington founded the teachers’ college Tuskegee Institute for blacks in 1881 in Alabama. He was famous for teaching African Americans to help themselves through education and hard work.
Mary McLeod Bethune: Bethune founded a school for girls in Florida in 1903 that later merged with Cookman Institute to become Bethune-Cookman College. She also served on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet as an advisor about black issues.
Esau Jenkins: In 1954, Jenkins co-founded the first Citizenship School in the South as a place for blacks to be taught to read so that they could vote.
Dorothy Height: A well-known civil rights activist for decades, Height had the ear of President Eisenhower and urged him to desegregate schools. President Bush awarded her with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
Maxine Smith: With the help of the NAACP in the early 60’s, Smith worked to desegregate Memphis schools. Smith escorted the first black children to attend a desegregated school in Memphis.
For more information on African American History and Culture, check out The African-American Mosaic, A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History & Culture at https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/ .
The new National Museum of African American History and Culture is another great resource for exploring the history of America through the lens of the African American experience. The museum is very popular (availability for reserved passes is usually months in advance). Although entrance to the Museum is free, a timed pass is necessary for entry. For more information on obtaining advanced and same-day timed passes, please visit https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes
Primary sources for the information contained in this communication came from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and On Line College.org – 50 African Americans who Forever Changed Academia.