Black History

Book

Recommendations

Black Is A Rainbow Color by Angela Jo and illustrated by Ekua Holmes (ages 4-8)

Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.. A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black ins not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own… Kirkus Reviews

Coretta Scott King, award-winning illustrator lends her brilliance to the moving poetic text. Her lively stain glass-like art work is a feast for the eyes.  This elegant picture book is about the wonders of being black. The supporting material is equally as rich.  There is a playlist and a reference guide to explain and so enhance the historical references.  

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and illustrated by George Ford (ages k - 3)

 

Please God, try to forgive those people because even if they say those bad things, they don’t know what they’re doing.  This is the true story of an extraordinary 6- year old, little Ruby, a charming heroine.  Her mother brought her up to pray for her enemies,  and have the strength to walk by them with dignity, as she did each day on her way to school,  valiantly clutching her lunch pail.  

What a great story to introduce civil rights issues to our young ones. It is story for all ages about the courageous Bridges family.   

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes From Past and Present by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins (ages 9 - 12)

As Ms. Wilson says, "If you can't see it, you can't be it." This book will help you see it! It is a fantastic collection of biographical vignettes of writers, scientists, activists, artists, and leaders. Their stories and lives are sure to inspire the younger generation. 

Teammates by Peter Golenbock (ages 6 and up)

It’s 1947 and Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American to play Major League Baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He is mercilessly taunted and teased when he first appears, until Pee Wee Reese, the short stop, courageously walks out and embraces his new teammate, the  beginning of a long friendship.

Historical photos and illustrations take us back to that unforgettable game.

What Color Is My World: The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld (ages 8 and up)

We all know about the ice cream scoop, refrigerated food truck, cortisone cream, and open heart surgery, but did we know that African- Americans shared a hand in these important discoveries, to name a very few. Enjoy these fascinating stories for our aspiring inventors.

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox (ages 4 and up)

Mem Fox, the beloved children’s writer, addresses diversity and equality in her message:

Little ones, wherever you are, whatever you look like, there are other kids that look just like you. Joys are the same. Love is the same. Pain is the same and blood is the same. Her charming book beautifully speaks to her young audience.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Wolfson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (ages 8 and up)

Little Clover and Anna are two little girls who become friends as they work around the rules of segregation.

They each sit atop the fence behind Clover’s house that also abuts Anna’s home, on the white side. In this finely illustrated book, little girls’ innocence wins the day!

Mae C. Jemison

Astronaut, Physician

First African-American woman astronaut

After completing medical school Dr. Jemison served in the Peace Corps, from January 1983 to June 1985. She was stationed in Sierra Leone and Liberia, West Africa as the area Peace Corps medical officer. There she supervised the pharmacy, laboratory, medical staff. She provided medical care, wrote self-care manuals, developed and implemented guidelines for health and safety issues. She also had contact with and worked in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on research for various vaccines.

In 1985, after returning from the Peace Corps, Dr. Jemison secured a position with the CIGNA Health Plans of California as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, California. There she began attending graduate classes in engineering and applied to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for admission to the astronaut program. Her first application was not accepted. It was her second application in 1987 that was accepted as an astronaut candidate; Mae Jemison became one of the fifteen candidate accepted from some 2,000 applicants.

Dr. Jemison successfully completed her astronaut training program in August 1988, becoming the fifth black astronaut and the first black female astronaut in NASA history. In August 1992, SPACELAB J was a successful joint U.S. and Japanese science mission, making Mae Jemison the first black woman in space.

Tuskegee Airmen

332nd Fighter Group &

447th Bombardment Group

United States Army Air Force

The only black air units that saw combat during the war were the 99th Pursuit Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group. Their dive-bombing and strafing missions commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. were highly successful.

In May 1942, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was renamed the 99th Fighter Squadron. It earned three Distinguished Unit Citations (DUC) during World War II for operations over Sicily from May 30–June 11, 1943, Monastery Hill near Cassino from May 12–14, 1944, and for successfully fighting off German jet aircraft on March 24, 1945. On that day in March, 43 P-51 Mustangs led by Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. escorted B-17 bombers over 1,600 miles into Germany and back. The bombers’ target was a massive Daimler-Benz tank factory in Berlin that was heavily defended by Luftwaffe aircraft. Pilots Charles Brantley, Earl Lane and Roscoe Brown all shot down German jets over Berlin that day.The mission was the longest bomber escort mission of the Fifteenth Air Force throughout the war.  

Altogether, the pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group earned 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses. We owe a debt of gratitude to these men for their bravery and loyalty to the USA in a time of segregation and cruelty to African-Americans. Thank you for your service.

Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., commander of the Tuskegee Airmen 332nd Fighter Group, in front of his P-47 Thunderbolt in Sicily.

 

Guion S. Bluford, Jr., Ph.D.

Aerospace Engineer, US Air Force Officer, Fighter pilot, NASA Astronaut

First African-American in space

Guion S Bluford, Jr., was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bluford graduated from Overbrook High School in 1960, and received his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at Pennsylvannia State University in 1964. He went on to receive his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in 1974 and 1978 respectively. In addition to that, he received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston-CLear Lake in 1987.

Bluford joined the Air Force and attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base where he received his pilot wings in January of 1966. He then began F-4C combat crew training and was assigned to the 557th Tatical Fighter Squadron in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. He ended up flying 144 combat missions, 65 of which were over North Vietnam. He has logged over 5,200 hours of jet flight time in the T-33, T-37, T-38, F-4C, U-2/TR-1, and F-5A/B aircraft including 1,300 hours at a T-38 instructor pilot. He also has an FAA commercial pilot license.

In August 1979 he was chosen to become a NASA astronaut out of thousands of possible candidates. He served on missions in 1983, 1985, 1991, and 1992. All in all, he logged 688 hours in space.

He left NASA and retired from the Air Force in 1993. During his post-NASA career, he served as Vice-President of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA, the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corporation, the Microgravity R&D and Operations for Northrop Grumman and President of Aerospace Technology, an engineering consulting organization.

In 1997, Guion Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

For all of your many years of service Guion S. Bluford, Jr., Ph.D, we thank and salute you!

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