This lesson plan is from Black History Month in 2019. For this lesson I wanted to focus on innovators in their field. These lessons also focus on African American History specifically. In this post, you'll find a brief description of each person and, below, the lesson plan embedded with links. If any of the links don't work, you'll find a form at the bottom to fill out.
Mary Fields, also called Stagecoach Mary, was born in 1832. She was an enslaved person in Tennessee until 1865. After 1865, Mary worked in the home of Judge Edmund Dunne and, when his wife passed, took the judge's children to live with their aunt. When their aunt fell ill, Mary took care of the children, nursed the aunt, and afterwards tended their garden and livestock. Eventually she became a forewoman. Unfortunately, after an incident with a subordinate, Mary was ordered out of the area. The children's aunt, however, helped her open her own restaurant and Mary would serve anyone who needed food, whether or not they could pay.
At 60, Mary became the first African American woman (2nd woman and 1st African American) to be hired by the USPS. She was hired because she was able to hitch a set of six horses the fastest of all the candidates. Mary drove her route with her horses and a mule she named Moses. She never missed a day of work, earning the name "Stagecoach" and during snowy weather, Mary would often walk the mail herself. Mary was known to be fiercely independent and always carried a gun with her to protect herself, her animals, and the mail.
Mary was well respected and the town she lived in celebrated her birthday every year. She died in 1914. About her Gary Cooper wrote, "Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38".
Guion S. Bluford
Dr. Guion S Bluford is an American aerospace engineer (retired) who served in the US Air Force as an officer and fighter pilot. He was the first African American person in space and participated in four shuttle flightes between 1983 and 1992. Bluford graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1964, received a Master's degree from the US Air Force Institute of Technology in 1974, and got his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from AFIT as well. He got his wings in 1966. In the Vietnam War he flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which were in North Vietnam. He has over 5,200 hours of jet flight time and has an FAA commercial pilot's license.
In 1979, Bluford became a NASA astronaut. His first mission was on the Challenger in 1983 and was the first mission to have a night launch and a night landing. During the mission they destroyed the Indian National Satellite and completed 98 orbits of Earth in 145 hours. In 1985, Bluford was part of a mission to carry the largest crew to fly in space under German direction. In 1992, Bluford completed a mission that performed a number of military-man-in-space experiments and has logged over 688 hours in space.
Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.
CW: mention of an eating disorder
Misty Copeland was born in 1982 and is a ballet dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. She is originally from Missouri, but was raised in California. She is the first African American woman to be a principal dancer for the ABT (they have a75 year history). Throughout her childhood Copeland struggled with a variety of issues including a custody battle between her mother and her dance teacher, and ED, body dysmorphia, and injury.
Copeland began studying ballet at 13, which is considered a very late start in the dance world. In 1997 she won the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award and joined the ABT in 2000. She became a soloist in 2007.
Additionally Copeland is a public speaker, spokesperson, and stage performer. She's written two books and narrated a documentary about her career. In 2015, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She's also performed on Broadway, toured as a featured dancer, and appeared on TV.
Dr. Mark Dean, born in 1957, was the first African American to become an IBM fellow. He grew up in Tennessee and received degrees from the University of Tennessee, Florida Atlantic University, and a Ph. D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. In 1997, Dean was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
At present, Dean is the interim dean of Tickle College of Engineering (as of 2019) and is a professor at the University of Tennessee. He works for IBM Middle East and Africa and has served as a VP overseeing research in San Jose, California. Dean holds 3 of the original 9 patents from IBM and helped develop the interior architecture that allows multiple devices to be connected to computers. Overall he holds over 20 patents.
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About this page
These are lesson plans written by me using Comprehensible Input. They are not associated with any curriculum, district, etc. I try my best to give credit to my resources, but if I've missed something let me know. As always, I am not perfect. Some of these lessons are a few years old. If you find mistakes or have questions, do not hesitate to reach out.