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Admiration and gratitude for incredible people

Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

Our Black History Month hero today is one of the most gifted Americans of the 20th century – Paul Robeson.

He won an academic scholarship to Rutgers University, where he also became a football All-American and the class valedictorian. He earned a law degree at Columbia University while playing in the National Football League.


Paul Robeson

But it wasn’t athletic skills or his law practice for which he became internationally famous; he was known throughout the world for his singing and his acting – in plays and movies. He was a worldwide star.

Paul Robeson used his talents to entertain as well as to organize against racism in the United States and fight imperialism. He was a champion of working people.

He said: “The artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.”

Share your hero

Star reporters would like students and staff to share their Black History Month heroes with us. If you want to contribute to this feature, please comment at the end of this article. You may also meet with a Star reporter in Room 308 during Journalism class, 8th period.

See information on all the Black History Month heroes our students shared during morning announcements earlier this month in this post beneath these 2018 interviews.

Who is your Black History Month hero?

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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019

Our Black History Month hero of the day is Fannie Lou Hamer, shared with the Star by English teacher Mr. Sloan.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a voting and women’s rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the civil rights movement. She worked for Black people to be free to vote in the south.


Fannie Lou Hamer

She changed people’s lives with her courage and organizational skills.

She was the leader of Freedom Summer. She also demanded change the structure of the Democratic party so that Black people were represented.

In addition, she helped people gain financial freedom through her organization of business and housing co-ops.


Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019

Our Black History Month hero of the day is A. Philip Randolph, suggested to the Star by history and civics teacher Mr. Patner.


A. Philip Randolph

Labor leader and social activist A. Philip Randolph fought for decent pay for African Americans through unionism in the early 1900s.

He founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first Black labor union.

He was one of the main organizers who pushed President Roosevelt to end racial discrimination in government defense factories and to desegregate the armed forces.

A. Philip Randolph was also a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


Friday, Feb. 15, 2019

Jackie Robinson is our Black History Month hero of the day.


Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball in 1947.

Jackie Robinson transformed baseball and the entire country by becoming the first African-American to play in the major leagues in the modern era.

“By stepping onto a major league diamond as a Brooklyn Dodger on April 15, 1947, he allowed a sport that thought of itself as the national pastime to finally be just that,” sports writer Claire Smith said.

Although baseball was his fourth best sport – he had excelled in football, basketball, and track in college at UCLA – he was one of the best players in the major leagues.

He endured abuse from racist players and fans, putting up with insults, hate mail, and death threats.

“At his best and bravest, showed us all how to be strong enough not to fight back but rather to fight on and on and on,” Smith said.

He used his celebrity to increase awareness about injustice. He fund-raised for freedom riders and lobbied politicians to support key civil rights initiatives. He was a board member of the NAACP and campaigned across the country in support of the movement.

His number 42, is the only number to be retired across all of Major League Baseball. Each year on April 15th, the day baseball players wear the number 42 to honor Jackie Robinson’s legacy.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Back in the days when integration wasn’t fashionable, Jackie Robinson underwent the trauma and the humiliation and the loneliness which comes with being a pilgrim walking the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom. He was a sit-inner before the sit-ins, a freedom rider before the Freedom Rides.”

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019

Our Black History Month hero today is Maya Angelou, a teacher, activist, artist, actress, singer, dancer, author and poet.


Maya Angelou, poet

She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace, working for civil rights throughout her life. She inspired people with her six-part autobiography that began with “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” as well as her poetry, especially when she performed her pieces, as she did at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration.

One of her greatest poems, “Still I Rise,” speaks to the resiliency, strength, and beauty that Black communities continue to show through hundreds of years of oppression and discrimination.

One of her greatest poems, “Still I Rise,” speaks to the resiliency, strength, and beauty that Black communities continue to show through hundreds of years of oppression and discrimination.

Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019

Today’s Black History Month lesson is about historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the origin of Black History Month.

The U.S. government officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, but it really started in 1926 when Negro History Week was created by Dr. Carter G Woodson, a historian, author, and journalist educated at the University of Chicago and Harvard. He chose the second week of February because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Lincoln’s birthday is today; Douglass’s birthday is Monday.


Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Dr. Woodson created Negro History Week because Black Americans and their accomplishments were largely left out of the educational curriculum of that time; when African Americans were mentioned, it was usually with very demeaning imagery or discriminatory ideas.

According to Stacy Swimp of the Black Leadership Network, Dr. Woodson intended the observance to be a way to “fight back against the institutional hatred of the era and create more accurate teaching of American history. He wanted Americans to understand the strong family values, work ethic, sense of individual responsibility, spirit of entrepreneurship and dignity that was indicative of Black Americans and their African ancestors.”

Monday, Feb. 11, 2018

Today’s Black History Month hero is Ida B. Wells, a journalist who exposed the horror of lynching, something other reporters ignored. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, thousands of lynchings occurred in the south.

Ida B. Wells also taught school in Memphis, TN, and published reports on the poor conditions of the segregated schools. She stood up to racism when it happened to her personally. After she was forcibly moved when she refused to leave a train’s first class car, she won money damages in a civil lawsuit she filed.

Ida B. Wells, journalist

Ida B. Wells, journalist

In addition to her influential writing, she became a national and international speaker, raising awareness of the racism in the U.S.

She also worked for women’s voting rights, refusing to have black women marginalized in that movement. She helped found the NAACP, although she stepped back from the organization when she decided it wasn’t militant enough. After she married, she and her husband raised their children in Chicago.

Ida B. Wells died of kidney disease at the age of 68. She left behind an “impressive legacy of social and political heroism,” according to

“With her writings, speeches and protests, Wells fought against prejudice, no matter what potential dangers she faced. She once said, ‘I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap.'”

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