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New Knowledge, New Growth

February 28, 2019
by Becky Ferrigno

On the last day of February, I would like to share a few thoughts about Black History month. I am here to implore you to read more books written by African Americans. We are missing out on a tremendous amount of history and great literature if we don’t seek these books out every month.

Learning is the name of the game this February. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle’s daily Black History posts have started my morning off with a dose of education. Check her out @rachel.cargle. Through Vera Ahiyya’s work (@thetututeacher and @diversereads) I have been introduced to new children’s authors and illustrators. The kids have loved all of the new books and the librarians are beginning to recognize me. In addition, I am thoroughly interested and impressed by the work of Layla Saad. These incredible women are part of the rich pool of intellectuals that are at our fingertips, in our bookstores and our libraries.

Here are a few things that I learned this month…

New Learning:  As a self-proclaimed history buff, I am once again horrified by how little history our textbooks still                 teach.

New Learning: Some abolitionists who belonged to the Manumission Society of New York owned slaves! (Check out              Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve YA Version or the                Adult version written by Erica Armstrong Dubar for more information).

New Learning: I learned about Francis E. W. Harper, Ida B. Wells Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell. Get familiar                   with their names. Their legacies are important and two of the women are in the National Women’s History                         Museum.

New Learning: Angela Davis wrote a book called Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey,                         Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. I have spent a lot of time researching all three women in preparation for my                   4th-grade jazz unit and I can wait to see what I learn from this book!

New Learning: I knew that Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States                   but I didn’t know that Rebecca Lee Crumpler was close behind her. Dr. Crumpler became the first African                         American woman physician just over a decade later.

New Learning: I learned about Janet Collins and Raven Wilkinson, the ballerinas who paved the way for Misty                      Copeland’s rise in the American Ballet Theater decades later.

I also read several biographies on Bessie Coleman. Check out her bio at https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/bessie-coleman.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

My list of “February Learnings” could go on and on. The thing is, I should know this history. We should know about this history.

But let’s be honest, history is the documentation of who the authors favor.  Written history is rarely the whole story. It’s why my father can put four historical biographies on his birthday/Christmas lists every year and never repeat. The whole story is still being written.

So let’s do the work and learn the history that should be written in our textbooks but isn’t yet. Let’s introduce our children to a diverse pool of authors and not just the familiar books from childhood.

After you check these women out, let me know in the comments below what you learned!

Opportunity to learn in March!

Make sure to join me @Becky.Ferrigno on Instagram while I spend the first 17 days of March celebrating Irish history and incredible Irish women!

Happy reading and growing!


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