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Black History Month

Booker T. Washington (1856 -1915)

Booker T. Washington was born in April of 1856 in Hale’s Ford, Virginia.

Washington was one of the first leading African American intellectuals of the 19 century. He became a noted writer and believed African-Americans could best gain equality by improving their economic situation through education.

He was an educator and an activist who built a University from the ground up and created a door for many African-Americans to attain knowledge.

This is known as the Tuskegee University. Washington served as the Principal there and promoted the university by traveling throughout towns.

He used his ideas to help African-Americans have a basic understanding of economic stability.

His views became so well known that Washington was the first black man to ever be invited to dine with the president at the White House under Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.

Washington received his education at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, a school of higher learning in Virginia for blacks. He eventually received a teaching job there before becoming the Principal for Tuskegee University.

More information on Booker T. Washington

Edmund Gordon (1921 – 2016)

Edmund Gordon was born in June of 1921 in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Gordon was a psychology professor. His work played an important role in education access for minorities and disadvantaged students.

Gordon’s contributions include nearly 200 publications of his studies at both Yale and Columbia University. He and his wife Susan Gordon would go on to provide educational expertise across the country.

In 1959, Gordon accepted his first teaching position as a Psychology Professor at Yeshiva University. Other schools he would go on to teach at include Columbia University, Yale University, City University of New York City College and Rockland Community College

Gordon received his education at Howard University where he earned his degrees in zoology and Social Ethics. He earned his Master’s degree in Social Psychology from the American University in 1950. He earned his Ph.D. in Child Development and Guidance from Columbia Teachers College in 1957.

More information on Edmund Gordon.

Charles Hamilton Houston (1895-1950)

Charles Hamilton Houston was born in September of 1895 in Washington, D.C.

Houston was an educator and a lawyer who played an important role in Supreme Court civil rights cases.

Houston helped play a role in dismantling the Jim Crow Laws and train future Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. His work was important to the Brown v. Board of Education Ruling.

Before becoming a lawyer, Houston taught English at Howard University in 1915. After, he decided to continue to receive his education and attended Harvard Law School in 1919.

Houston earned his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1922 and his Doctor of Laws degree in 1923 from Harvard Law School. There, he became the first African American to serve as an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

He is the namesake of the Charles Houston Bar Association and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, which opened in the fall of 2005. There is also a professorship at Harvard Law named after him.

More information on Charles Hamilton Houston

Charlotte Forten Grimke (1837-1914)

Charlotte Forten Grimke was born in August of 1837 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was an anti-slavery activist, poet and educator.

Grimke received her education at the Higginson Grammar private school for young women. She was the only non-white student in a class of 200. After Higginson, Grimke studied literature and teaching at Salem Normal School. Her first teaching position was at Eppes Grammar School in Salem. She was the first African-American hired to teach white students in a Salem Public School.

During the American Civil War, she was the first black educator to join the Port Royal Experiment. She was also the first African-American to teach at the Penn School, which is now the Penn Center in South Carolina. The school was initially founded to teach slaved, and eventually freed, African-American children.

She chronicled this time in her essays, entitled "Life on the Sea Islands,” which were published in Atlantic Monthly in 1864. Following the war in 1860, Grimke worked for the United States Treasury Department in Washington, DC to recruit teachers.

More information on Charlotte Forten Grimke.