Beginning on the first of February each year, our nation spends the month honoring the history and contributions of African Americans. The theme for Black History Month 2018 is “African Americans in Times of War”, spotlighting the brave men and women who served their country in the armed forces, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the American principles of freedom and democracy.
More than 2.5 million black men registered for the draft during World War II and one million served as draftees or volunteers in all branches of the armed forces. A majority of black men were assigned to segregated combat groups a decade before the American civil rights movement even started. Recognition of the African-American contribution to the war effort would eventually lay the foundation for the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 60s.
Online College created a list of African Americans who “forever changed academia”. We chose a few of our favorites who were influential in the education system:
- Kelly Miller was the country’s first African-American graduate student in Mathematics. As a prominent voice for civil rights in the early 1900s, he wrote articles in leading academic journals pushing for higher learning so that powerful black leaders could be created.
- Fanny Jackson Coppin was the country’s first female African-American principal. She served for 37 years and instituted many improvements in Philadelphia and other cities.
- Jeanne L. Noble is the author of The Negro Women’s College Education, which greatly increased the knowledge of the educational experience of black women. Three presidents named her to education commissions.
- Fannie C. Williams had a nearly 60-year career as an educator and was the driving force behind the passing of Child Health Day in 1928. She instituted kindergarten and standardized testing for students even before it was required.
- Nathan Hare directed the first university Black Studies program in the country. He protested with students for five months when his administration attempted to cut the program.
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