Black educators: The first openly black teacher in an university for former slaves was Susie King Taylor (1848-1912). Slave life and her grandmother’s influence on her schooling shaped her upbringing on an estate in Georgia. As a child, Susie received her education from a variety of “teachers,” including her grandmother, her white playmates, and white students who railed against Georgia’s anti-slavery legislation and social mores.

This is not the first time an African American has started teaching. Educating slaves was against the law prior to Susie’s period, and she was a student at a sham school run by a free slave lady Named Woodhouse. Ms. Woodhouse and other teachers like her continued to teach despite the danger they posed to themselves.

It wasn’t until 1862, that Ms. Taylor started instructing her students, that she was allowed to publicly and legally educate.

During the American Civil War, Susie King Taylor were first black War medic to service in an all-black battalion.  She has become the 1st African American educator in Augusta, Georgia, after publishing her war book, Memoirs of My Life in Camp the with 33rd U. S. Colored Soldiers, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers.

Robert Lewis Gilbert: Black Educators

Black educators: First black teacher employed at a predominantly white school was Robert Lewis Gilbert. There were some “geniuses,” “average,” and “mediocre whites,” just like there were black students.

Washington, Maggie

The blending of white and black coworkers became a priority for Maggie Washington once trying to educate hiring black instructors. “Even the custodian attempted to give us a hard time,” she reveals in her memoir. The principal was contacted by a number of teachers who were unhappy about working with such a black teacher. While teaching social studies, Washington continued to have a favourable impact on her colleagues and pupils, as well as their parents.

Smith, Harriet L.

Harriet L. Smith were indeed the city’s first black schoolteacher. From 1890 through 1917, she taught at the Maine School on Beacon Hill before moving to the Sharp School.

Smith, Elizabeth N.

Her sister Harriet L. Smith also studied at Boston from 1894 to 1896, and Elizabeth N. Smith was a student of Harriet Smith.

Along with Eleanor A. Smith and Mary E. Smith in the early 1900s there were several more revolutionary black teachers who made a name for themselves in the field.

A Tribute To Black History Month’s Most Influential Black Educators

Celebrate Black History Month this February by honouring influential Black educators who have had a profound impact on education in the United States. They’ve made a significant impact on education, but their achievements and contributions also serve as a sobering reminder of just how far we still have to go before we can truly achieve fairness and inclusion in education. If you’re interested in learning more about Black academic community or its rich history in the United States, we hope to inspire you to delve deeper.

Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837-1913)

Fanny Jackson Coppin has been the country’s first Black principal as well as an American teacher, missionary, & lifelong promoter of women’s higher education. While working as an educator, she used her position to expand the school’s curriculum and create opportunities for students to display their art and to be employed by employers in roles that used their education. In 1926, the Baltimore teacher education college was named in her honour; it opened its doors in 1927. Coppin State University is the current name of such institution.

Bethune, Mary Mcleod (1875-1955)

Black educators: Is among the influential Black teachers, civil liberties advocates or public officials of the 20th century, Mary McLeod Bethune was born just ten years after Civil War ended. Beloved educator and founder of Bethune Cookman College, Bethune paved the way for several Black colleges to following in his footsteps.

Bethune had a key role in increasing voter turnout once women were granted the right to vote, as the political activist devoted to civil and women’s rights issues. She rose through the ranks of the Youth Empowerment Administration to become the first Black woman to hold the post of director of Negro Affairs, a job she was assigned to by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Bethune served as NAACP vice president from 1940 to her death in 1955.

Kelly Miller (1863-1939)

Kelly Miller was a trailblazer in higher education as the very first Black person to walk Johns Hopkins University but the first Black graduate student in mathematics. Miller went on to teach at Howard University while still earning his own graduate degrees in mathematics. 

Howard’s Faculty of Arts appointed him dean in 1907. A recruitment approach he pioneered resulted in a threefold increase in students in the first four years of his tenure, which included modernising the curriculum. Miller remained active in the struggle for equal access to education for all African-Americans even as he grew older.

Businessman, community organiser, & proponent of literacy, Esau Jenkins was raised in South Carolina. In order to vote in South Carolina at the time, citizens had to recite sections from the state constitution. As a result of this, Jenkins founded the Progressive Club, which serves as an educational resource for the community. 

This group subsequently spawned a school dedicated to teaching adult African-Americans how to read so that they can get on the voter registration list. Due to its success, the model was quickly replicated across the South, resulting in people who were both well-educated and eligible to vote.

We’re aware that it was formerly unlawful. And if you learnt to read or allowed a Black person to read, you could be put to death. Despite the danger, Black people continue to learn and teach because it was so vital to them.

Black educators: Black American history has always had a strong emphasis on the importance of education for the advancement of the Black community as a whole.

It is through good teaching that the link between racial equity and educational equity may be made. Black teachers consistently show order to guarantee that their kids were highly literate, successful, and proud of their race at the same time. To put it another way, it’s a revolutionary development.

That’s why, at the Council for Black Teacher Development, we’re dedicated to making sure that the legacies and contributions of thousands of famous Black educators are properly recognised.

These are the kinds of tales that should be told not only during Black History Month, but throughout the year.