Black History Month - Black Educator Spotlight

The Shoulders of Giants

Share this post:
We're commemorating Black educators, past and present, with a living quiz to celebrate Black History Month! Each day, we will share a hint about who the next day's featured education professional will be. See how many you can guess correctly!
These thought leaders' commitments to equity, inclusion and culturally responsive education are a beacon of light. Follow along on social media with hashtag #UnboundEdBHM and check back daily to see the list grow!
  1. Who is the founder of Black History Month?
  2. Who is the creator of Culturally Relevant Teaching?
  3. Who literally wrote the book on antiracism?
  4. Who was the first Black female principal?
  5. Who teaches us about Cultivating Genius?
  6. Who is "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow"?
  7. Who wonders why all the Black kids sit together in the cafeteria?
  8. Who is know as "The Handshake Teacher?"
  9. Who founded the first school for Black children in Augusta, GA?
  10. Who was the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree?
  11. Who shows us how to teach when the world is on 🔥?
  12. Who opened a preparatory school in their Chicago home?
  13. Who was an activist that lied about their age in order to teach?
  14. Who is an author, a poet, and a keynoter for Standards Institute?
  15. Who teaches us about learning in a burning house?
  16. Who is "The Father of African Studies?"
  17. Who founded a school that set the standards for today’s HBCUs?
  18. Who is the 9th wonder of Duke, NCCU, and Harvard?
  19. Who was the first Black woman to earn a bachelor’s degree?
  20. Who founded a prestigious institute in Alabama?
  21. Who is an expert in culturally responsive leadership?
  22. Who was the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard?
  23. Who was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D.?
  24. Who is a proponent of #HipHopEd and Ratchetdemics?
  25. Who specializes in the literacy development of African American boys?
  26. Who the first Black woman to attend law school in the US?
  27. Who is the Harvard professor helped us explore famous African American Lives?
  28. Who is a Black educator you know of that is making history right now?
Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-6 Dr. Carter G. Woodson

The son of former enslaved Africans, Dr. Carter G. Woodson pioneered the celebration of Black history by creating Negro History Week in 1926. 

Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-7 Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

Former Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and pioneer of culturally relevant pedagogy, Gloria Ladson-Billings's work has informed our instructional framework, GLEAM™. We were very lucky to have Dr. Ladson-Billings keynote our Summer 2020 Virtual Summit! 

Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-8 Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

#1 New York Times Bestselling author, scholar on racism and antiracism, director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2020, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is living history.

It was our pleasure and honor to welcome Dr. Kendi as the keynote speaker for our Summer 2019 Standards Institute. Click here to watch the full video of his address, and join us for our Spring 2022 Standards Institute from March 28 through April 1 in Las Vegas.

White Background Fanny Jackson Coppin

Fanny Jackson Coppin recognized that education was the key to upward mobility. A former enslaved African, Coppin became the first Black female principal at the Institute for Colored Youth, a Quaker school in Philadelphia, in 1869.

White Background (2) Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Dr. Gholnecsar (Gholdy) Muhammad is an Associate Professor of Language and Literacy at Georgia State University and the author of “Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy.”

White Background (3) Charles Hamilton Houston

“I made up my mind that if I got through this war I would study law and use my time fighting for men who could not strike back.” Charles Hamilton Houston graduated from Harvard Law and did just that, helping to abolish school segregation. He also served as the vice-dean and dean of Howard University from 1929 to 1935.

Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-9 Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is president emerita of Spelman College after serving as president from 2002 to 2015. She is celebrated for her expertise on race relations and is the author of several books, including the best-seller, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"

Join us in-person at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from March 28 through April 1 to experience Dr. Tatum and our president & CEO, Lacey Robinson, have a live Fireside Chat at Standards Institute.

White Background-1 Barry White Jr.

Currently an assistant principal in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Barry White Jr. was teaching 5th grade when his daily ritual of greeting each of his students with a unique handshake made international headlines.

White Background (2)-1 Lucy Craft Laney

Lucy Craft Laney founded the first school for Black children in Augusta, Georgia in 1883 called the Haines Institute for Industrial and Normal Education. She was the principal for 50 years!

Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-10 Dr. Edward A. Bouchet

The first African American to earn a doctoral degree from an American university was Edward A. Bouchet, who earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1876. He then taught chemistry and physics for twenty-six years at the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia.

Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-11 Dr. Lisa Delpit

For over four decades, education researcher Lisa Delpit, Harvard Ed.M.'80, Ed.D.'84, has promoted anti-oppressive teaching practices and reforms to language and literary education. A prolific writer, her latest work is titled, “Teaching When the World Is on Fire.”

We were fortunate to have Dr. Delpit keynote our Winter 2021 Virtual Summit. You definitely won’t want to miss this year’s Winter 2022 Virtual Summit. Registration is closing soon!

White Background-2 Marva Collins

Marva Collins opened Westside Preparatory School in 1975 on the second floor of her home. There, she instituted “the Marva Collins Way,” a philosophy that focused on shifting power dynamics and mindsets in classrooms. In a 1981 interview, Collins explained, “I felt that there were far too many children being recruited for failure, far too many excuses for not educating.” Her approach informs the UnboundEd GLEAM™ (Grade-Level, Engaging, Affirming, Meaningful) instructional framework.

White Background-3 Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was an enslaved African until the Reconstruction era. At 16, she lost both parents and convinced a nearby school administrator that she was 18 in order to teach and take care of her siblings. She later became a journalist, civil rights pioneer, and suffragist about whom it was once said: “She has plenty of nerve; she is as smart as a steel trap, and she has no sympathy with humbug.”

White Background (2)-3 Dr. Clint Smith

He began his career as a high school English teacher, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and is now a staff writer for The Atlantic. Dr. Clint Smith is a multifaceted author and poet with two best-selling books, including “How the Word Is Passed,” which topped The New York Times Best Seller list in June 2021.

We'd LOVE for you to hear Dr. Smith keynote our upcoming Spring 2022 Standards Institute in Las Vegas from March 28 through April 1. Register today!

White Background (3)-2 Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford

Professor of Education Leadership in the Teachers College at Columbia University, Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford examines the problem of racial inequality in K-12 schools. She is the author of "Learning in a Burning House: Educational Inequality, Ideology, and (Dis)Integration."

We are incredibly grateful for Dr. Horsford's contributions on our final episode of the Complexion of Teaching & Learning podcast, "Reform or Transform?" It's available NOW on iTunes and SoundCloud.

White Background-4 William Leo Hansberry

Known as The Father of African Studies, William Leo Hansberry laid the foundation for the systematic study of African history, culture, and politics. A historian and anthropologist, Hansberry devoted much of his work to studying the sophisticated civilizations that had existed in Africa prior to the rise of the Greeks and Romans.

White Background (2)-2 Mary McLeod Bethune

The daughter of former enslaved Africans, Mary McLeod Bethune became the highest-ranking Black woman in government under FDR’s administration. A philanthropist, businesswoman, and champion of racial and gender equity, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls. In 1923, the school was merged with the Cookman Institute for Men to form Bethune-Cookman College and was president for the next 19 years.

White Background-Feb-18-2022-01-08-16-86-AM Patrick Douthit

Patrick Douthit, aka - 9th Wonder, is a hip-hop producer, record executive, DJ, rapper, and lecturer. He began his career as the producer for Little Brother and has also worked with Mary J. Blige, Wale, Jay-Z, Drake, Beyonce, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and more. Presently, Douthit is an adjunct professor at Duke University, a Harvard Fellow, and Artist In Residence at NCCU.

White Background (2)-4 Mary Jane Patterson

Child of former enslaved Africans, Mary Jane Patterson is the first Black woman to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Patterson obtained her B.A. from Oberlin College, then became a teacher, administrator, and advocate for women’s rights who founded the Colored Women’s League of Washington, D.C.

White Background (3)-3 Dr. Booker T. Washington

An ardent civil rights activist, educator, author, and orator, Booker Taliaferro Washington founded and led the Tuskegee Institute, an institution of higher learning for African Americans. Born into slavery, Washington became one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, an advisor to presidents Roosevelt and Taft, and a successful business owner. For his contributions to American society, Washington was granted an honorary master's degree from Harvard University in 1896, followed by an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College.

White Background (4)-1 Dr. Muhammad Khalifa

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa is a professor of Educational Administration and the Executive Director of Urban and Rural Initiatives at Ohio State University. His research examines how urban school leaders enact culturally responsive leadership and anti-oppressive schooling practices.

Dr. Khalifa will deliver the keynote address for the Spring 2022 Standards Institute leadership pathway! Registration is closing soon, and you won't want to miss it!

White Background (5)-1 Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois

Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard and was a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A prolific author, his collection of essays, "The Souls of Black Folk," is a seminal work in Black literature.

Thank you to the Carl Van Vechten Trust and Yale University for the complimentary use of this extraordinary photo!

Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-12 Georgiana Rose Simpson

The first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in the United States, Georgiana Rose Simpson, received her doctoral degree in German from the University of Chicago in 1921. Simpson was a lifelong educator and reinvested in her community by teaching high school and college.

Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template-13 Dr. Christopher Emdin
Dr. Christopher Emdin is best known for founding the #HipHopEd cross-curricular initiative, which blends theory and practice through Hip-Hop. Recognized by TIME and The Root for his efforts to bridge opportunity and cultural gaps in education, Dr. Emdin’s numerous award-winning books and works empower young Black students to embrace their culture in academic settings.
UnboundEd is proud to have hosted Dr. Emdin as a Standards Institute keynoter AND on our latest episode of The Complexion of Teaching & Learning podcast. Click here to check it out!
Copy of Ube  BHM - Educator Spotlight - Question Template (1) Dr. Alfred Tatum
Dr. Alfred Tatum is a leading expert on the literacy development of African American boys. Dr. Tatum is the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the Metropolitan State University of Denver and vice president of the Literacy Research Association. We were very lucky to have Dr. Tatum as a keynote speaker at our Summer 2021 Virtual Summit AND as a special, exclusive guest on our podcast, The Complexion of Teaching & Learning.
White Background-Feb-26-2022-08-35-33-04-PM Mary Ann Shadd Cary
A dedicated abolitionist, lawyer, teacher, and writer, Mary Ann Shadd Cary opened a school for children of all races in the 1850s. Cary wrote and lectured about the importance of freedom and became the first Black female newspaper editor in North American history when she published Canada’s antislavery newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. She was also the first Black woman to attend law school in the US, starting in Howard University's inaugural law school class in 1869.
White Background (2)-Feb-26-2022-08-35-32-95-PM Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Reverend, academic, filmmaker, literary critic, and intellectual, Henry Louis Gates Jr. played a vital role in integrating African American literature into Western canon. Presently, Gates is director of the Center for African and African American Research at Harvard, but his illustrious career spans numerous disciplines. This includes his work as writer and producer of the hit PBS series, "African American Lives," the first documentary to use genealogy and genetic science to understand African American history.
White Background (3)-4 You Tell Us!

Visit the complete Facebook photo album of Black education giants to learn about them all and to leave a comment tagging a Black educator who has made an indelible impression on your life!