By: The Memo Staff
Black History Month 2019 has been a rollercoaster. I don’t know about you, but we’d also like a do-over.
Today, as we head into the last official week of Black History Month, we want to continue to shout out trailblazers. Every year, we hear about the usual names: Rosa, Malcolm, Martin, Sojourner. While they have certainly earned their right to grace the pages of our textbooks and our social consciousness, there were so many others blazing a trail in history.
Here are four black women trailblazers that you may or may not have heard about.
- Philippa Schuyler: Philippa Schuyler was our version of Alicia Keys. She was a child prodigy pianist. Philippa was able to read and write by the age of two years old. In the 30’s she was known as Harlem’s Mozart and graced the pages of The New Yorker. She flourished as a world-class performer across many continents even though she experienced racism during her formative years due to segregation. If you want to read more about Philippa, we suggest reading Composition in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler.
- Regina Anderson Andrews: Regina Anderson Andrews was a playwright and a librarian during the Harlem Renaissance. In her work at the library, she built networks, advocated for greater opportunities in the library system, and reached out to her community, often introducing patrons to new authors. Her apartment, nicknamed “Dream Haven,” was a place often filled with notable figures from that time period -- Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. Dubois. She became the first black woman to head a branch at the New York Public Library. To learn more about Regina Anderson Andrews, check out the book, Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian, by Ethelene Whitmire.
- Mary McLeod Bethune: Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, and civil rights advocate. Her list of accomplishments is LONG. Among those is the founding of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and being the first black woman to head a federal agency. Originally from South Carolina, and the daughter of former slaves, she founded Bethune-Cookman College in Florida.
- Isabel Wilkerson: Isabel Wilkerson is a journalist and author of one of the most important historical books of our time, The Warmth of Other Suns. This book chronicles the migration of African-Americans during the twentieth century. In order to know where we’re headed, we must know the journey it took from enslavement to leaving the Jim Crow South, and starting a new life in the North and on the West Coast. As African-Americans, we have such a rich history and Ms. Wilkerson does an extraordinary job reminding us of all the ways we need to celebrate our culture every day of the year.