Get a daily dose of history to prompt discussion. Help your children gain an appreciation of historical figures and events that have impacted our world. A daily historical fact is typically chosen from History.com then additional videos, quotes, and/or facts are used to promote thought (THINK) and discovery (DISCOVER) but this month we removed “Discover” and added an African American who has contributed to our society in honor of Black History month. Enjoy!
February 1, 1902 (Langston Hughes) & 1790
1902 ~ Langston Hughes, an American poet, playwright, and author, was born in Joplin, Missouri. Shortly after graduating high school, his well-known poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, was published. He attended Columbia University for a short period of time then later completed his degree on a scholarship to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Read more about Hughes at Biography.com and watch how he contributed to the Harlem Renaissance below. His poem, “The Weary Blues” was published in Opportunity Magazine in 1925.
1790 ~ The Supreme Court’s Gavel is Put to Use
History.com explains that the first session of the U.S. Supreme Court occurred with Chief Justice John Jay of New York presiding. This event took place almost two years after the US Constitution was written, which requires Supreme Court justices who have a lifetime appointment. Article III, Section I states, “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour….”.
THINK: In 1790, only six judges were appointed. How many are there today?
DISCOVER: Who were the original judges and who appointed them? Learn at MountVernon.org.
February 2, 1848 & 1975 (Donald Driver)
1975 – Donald Driver, a retired American football player, celebrity, and children’s activist was born in Houston, Texas. Biography.com states, in 2009, he became the Packers all-time leading receiver with 596 catches. He has also been a co-host and won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2012. More importantly, he created The Donald Driver Foundation that helps homeless families and supports education. Watch the video below to understand why Driver has a desire to help homeless families.
The Mexican-American War ends with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This Treaty can be thanked for Western US expansion. Learn more at History.com. Watch the video and write down which states the US received and how much we paid for them.
THINK ~ What can you buy today with the amount of money that was paid for this land? What do you think that amount is equal to today? Check out the inflation calculator to see how your answer compares. How does that amount compare to companies worth like Facebook?
DISCOVER: President Polk is known for his belief in Manifest Destiny, thebeliefthatitwasthedestinyoftheU.S.toexpandits territory toenhance itspolitical,social,andeconomic influence. (Dictionary.com) Watch the video below and learn about US expansion in the west. Answer the questions: 1. Who was Winfield Scott? 2. What trouble started after the Treaty of Hidalgo? 3. What is your opinion of Manifest Destiny?
February 3, 1821 & Mary Mcleod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune was not born today but is being recognized for her impact on improving the lives of African American children through education. Born on July 10, 1875, near Marysville, South Carolina, she became one of over a dozen children from a mother who was once enslaved. As a girl, Mary picked cotton and did any job that helped her family survive. As a determined young woman, she did domestic (housework) while completing Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina where she graduated in 1893. By 1904, she started a school in a shack and later created the Bethune-Cookman College in 1923. From 1936 to 1943 Bethune was chosen by President F.D.R to be the director of the National Youth Administration in the Federal Council on Negro Affairs, otherwise known as the “Black Cabinet”. Her life was dedicated to helping African American youth through education and programs that helped promote their success. Read more about her at Biography.com and/or watch the video below.
1821 ~ Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England. Biography.com explains that she suffered from a medical disease in her mid-20’s and believed she would have been better off with a female doctor. This event motivated her to become the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States from Geneva Medical College where they accepted but viewed her as a joke. She was shown prejudice but refused to give up her studies. Read more at Biography.com or watch the video below about her amazing perseverance, which led her to later establish the U.S. Sanitary Commission in 1861 when Lincoln was president.
February 4, 1913
Rosa Parks was born today in 1913. This brave woman can be credited for sparking the Civil Rights Movement and is why she has the nickname, “the First Lady of Civil Rights”. Read more at Biography.com and/or watch the video below.
THINK ~ How would you feel if you were told to sit somewhere because of your appearance? Do you treat others differently who looked differently than you? When you think of someone you look up to, have they shown prejudice or acceptance of all?
February 4, 1789 ~ George Washington was elected as the first U.S. president and runner-up John Adams became the first vice president. Good thing they were friends! Read more at History.com.
THINK ~ George Washington is known for him humility. What does humility mean to you?
February 5, 1920 and 1934
Georgia Gilmore was born in 1920, as well as, Hank Aaron 1934. Both were born into poor families in Alabama and experienced discrimination. At a young age, Aaron was recognized for his football and baseball talent. At 18, he began playing in the Negro Baseball League and four years later, he began playing for the Milwaukee Braves. At 23, he won the National League MVP award after leading the Braves to win the World Series.For almost 20 years, Aaron was chosen to play on the All-Star team but faced racial discrimination since he began playing only 7 years after legendary Jackie Robinson took the field in 1947. In 1974, he did the unthinkable and broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. He played for two more years then retired at 42 with 755 career home runs. Watch the video below to learn more about legendary Hank Aaron.
Georgia was a Civil Rights activist who was involved in the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycotts with Rosa Parks. Biography.com says, “Gilmore had worked as, a nurse and midwife, also obtaining a position as a cook at National Lunch Company in Montgomery.” Watch the video below and see how Gilmore influenced positive change due to her attitude and heart.
Think twice before you do some things, because some things you do, you will regret it later. And so by me being able to control my temper, I made a lot of friends that I never thought that I would have, white and black. Georgia Gilmore, Biography.com
February 6, 1911
The 40th president, Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois. His family was poor but had a great childhood and is known for playing football in both high school and college. He worked as a sports radio announcer and soon became a Hollywood actor. While acting, he became an active spokesman for the Screen Actors Guild, which is the American union for people who work in film and television. His speaking skills improved while traveling nationwide and hosting a television program, General Electric Theater. Reagan’s gregarious personality and speaking abilities are two reasons why he became California’s governor and later won the presidency at 69 years of age. Reagan was the oldest president until Donald Trump. Learn more about Reagan at History.com or at RonaldFoundation.org.
Today we celebrate reggae with the birth of Bob (Nester) Marley in Jamaica in 1945, as well as, singer Natalie Cole in 1950 who was the daughter of the famous crooner Nat King Cole. Marley can be thanked for making reggae well-known in America. He was the lead singer in the band, Wailing Wailers in Jamaica. Watch the video below to learn more about him and to experience reggae if you’re not familiar with it. The following video is about Nat Cole and his impact on music.
THINK ~ (Marley Video) What do you think about reggae? How is it similar and different to the music you listen to today?
THINK ~ (Cole Video) How do you think Nat Cole influenced his daughter’s desire to sing? Do you think his music or Marley’s better?
February 7, 1775 & Robert Smalls
1775 ~ Ben Franklin publishes, “An Imaginary Speech” in London. History.com explains his speech defends American courage and that we are much stronger than the British think. You can read his speech at foundersarchives.gov.
THINK ~ How do you think American’s compare to other countries today in bravery and perseverance? How do you think technology and social media is affecting bravery? Would you be able to survive if you were lost in the woods without a phone and food?
In thinking about Franklin’s stance on American bravery, today we recognize the bravery of an overlooked African American, Robert Smalls, who was born on April 15, 1839. Smalls was born into a hard life of slavery but his courage led him to become a ship’s sea captain during the American Civil War. In an Atlanta Black Star article, “10 Black Heroes Who Normally Go Unrecognized During Black History Month, but Shouldn’t” by A. Moore, he writes, “Smalls freed himself, his crew and their families from slavery on May 13, 1862, when he led an uprising aboard a Confederate transport ship, the CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, and sailed it north to freedom. His feat successfully helped persuade President Abraham Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army.” (atlantablackstar.com). Watch the video below to learn more about Smalls and his impact our nation.
THINK ~ What do you think made Smalls so motivated to change not only his life but the lives of all slaves?
February 8, 1968 and Ralph Bunche
1968 ~ Gary Coleman was born in Illinois. As a child, he suffered multiple health problems stunted his growth. Despite being 4’8″, he used his gregarious personality to become a well-known actor who is famous for his line, “What’choo talkin’ about Willis?” from the television series “Different Strokes. Read more at Biography.com.
THINK ~ What other people do you know who have overcome health problems and used them to become stronger mentally?
Ralph Bunche ~ The first African American Noble Peace Prize winner. who was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 7, 1904. Bunche’s parents died when he was only 10 years old in New Mexico. His grandmother moved them to Los Angeles, California, where Bunche learned to do whatever odd jobs he could to help support the family. On top of his hard work outside of school, he was continually awarded for his academics and athletic ability at school. He earned an athletic scholarship to USC and graduated summa cum laude in 1927. Read more at NobelPrize.org or Biography.com.
February 14, 1818
At a later age in life, today, February 14, was chosen by Fedrick Douglass to celebrate his birth. Born as a slave
February 23, 1868
W.E.B Du Bois was born in Massachusetts.
February - Ben Carson
Ben Carson was born on September 18, 1951, in Detroit, Michigan. His mother worked three jobs to raise him and his brother, Curtis. HIs mother promoted reading and the idea that reading allows you to learn anything. In middle school, he began going down a bad path, but after almost harming his close friend with a knife due to his anger, he went home and read the Bible and chose a new path. After earning a scholarship to Yale and earning his medical degree at the University of Michigan, he became a neurosurgeon. His calm hands, intelligence and desire to help children, earned him the position as the most world re-known neuro surgeons who became the youngest director of pediatric surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In 1987, he and his colleagues performed a 22-hour surgery on seven-month Siamese twins who were joined at the head. Learn more about Carson at Biography.com.
February 20, 1895
Frederick Douglass died on this day and was born in February he did not know the exact date. He later chose his birthday as February 14, 1818. He was born a slave in Talbot county Maryland and was owned by the Auld family. The wife of his owner, Sophia Auld, taught Frederick how to read and write until her husband told her to stop. Douglass continued his learning through other white children in his neighborhood. HIs desire to learn and read anything he could get his hands on, promoted his ability to spread about freedom. On December 3, 1838, Douglass escaped slavery after his third attempt with the help of Anna Murray and abolitionist David Ruggles in New York. He married Anna, they changed their last names to Douglass, and moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Douglass became an active speaker and writer against slavery. He wrote three autobiographies and met with President Lincoln and President Jackson. He broke many barriers such as being the first African American to be placed on a presidency ballot as Vice President and marrying a white feminist after his wife’s death.
THINK ~ If you were a Douglass, would you have visited Auld’s after the 13th Amendment was ratified?