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Great Sites for Teaching About ... Great African Americans

Great Sites Center

Each week, Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About ... page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. To celebrate Black History Month, this week's sites are among the best on the Web for teaching about great African Americans.

  1. James Pierson Beckwourth
    This African American explorer traveled from present-day Florida to the Pacific Ocean and Canada to Mexico. He dictated his biography so that a record of his travels would be left for history to judge. This site offers a detailed biography, a map and explanation of the Nevada-California trail named for him, fascinating details on the celebration of Frontier Days each year in the Sacramento Valley, and related links about Mountain Men, Native Americans, The Seminole War, The Early Southwest, and The California Gold Rush.

  2. Ralph Johnson Bunche
    Ralph Johnson Bunche was the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in developing a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians in 1948. His success followed the assassination of his predecessor, who had been attempting to accomplish the same feat. This biography from the Nobel e-Museum offers a summary of his life and accomplishments.

  3. Peanut Products as Discovered by George Washington Carver
    With plain text and a straightforward format, this site provides a listing of all the different kinds of peanut products created by Carver. Let your students' imagination run free as they create their own recipes using these products! Also check out other parts of the African-American Inventor Series.

  4. Meredith C. Gourdine
    Gourdine was a blind African American physicist who made great advances in the study of gas and smoke and helped science move forward in developing methods for clearing smoke from buildings and fog from airport runways. This site presents a very human biography appropriate for upper elementary and above and presents a link to more than two dozen patents Gourdine received in his lifetime.

  5. Matthew A. Henson
    Matthew Henson was a noteworthy arctic explorer who accompanied Robert E. Peary on his 1909 expedition to the arctic. This site celebrates Henson and his achievements with a student-level biography, a time line, photographs, and a set of four lessons. The site also provides a free download of his autobiography (as a PDF file), as well as information about other books about Henson.

  6. Edmonia Lewis
    Claiming both Chippewa and African American heritage, Lewis led a hard life from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s, but her work as a sculptor has made her famous. Here, the San Jose Public Library presents an overview of her life and artistic accomplishments, as well as links for further reading.

  7. Colin Powell

    This site highlights Colin Powell, before he became secretary of state, in his role as leader of America's Promise, an organization committed to improving the lives of children. The site provides his quotes, biography, writings, a message to youth, and a monthly article (with archived back issues).

  8. C. J. Walker
    C. J. Walker (also known as Sarah Breedlove) was our nation's first self-made woman millionaire. In 1905, she developed a treatment for African American women's hair. She went on to create a large cosmetics business. This site offers a look at her career and achievements as part of the Harlem 1900-1940 presentation by the University of Michigan.

  9. Cathay Williams
    Cathay Williams was the only woman -- and she was an African American -- in the famed Buffalo Soldiers, cavalry troops that served the U.S. Army from 1866 to 1952. This site offers basic information on Williams; paintings, portraits, transcripts of oral presentations; and copies of primary sources that students can examine for themselves. There's also a link to the much larger Buffalo Soldier Project out of Fort Leavenworth Kansas.

  10. Richard Wright
    PBS presents this nicely formatted collection of materials on the important 20th-century author who reflected on the challenges of finding one's identity in society as an African American. The site provides a time line, a fact sheet, bibliographies, photographs, lots of background material, and a teacher's guide meant to serve as a companion to the PBS series.

Article by Walter McKenzie
Education World®
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