This year, we've taken the time to craft an entire month long curriculum based on the book "Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History" by Vashti Harrison. The curriculum is fairly simple: read a singular page from the book and engage in additional chosen readings and have a conversation internally, with your little one, or with your classroom about additional topics that can be discussed based upon the person of the day's herstory. This curriculum is designed to talk about the DEEPER issues that aren't often covered during Black History Month as well as highlight Black women who did radical work. It also engages in conversation about missed or often looked over facts about these women and what they say about this country as a whole. The book is simply a starting point for larger conversations.
This curriculum is designed to reclaim black women's stories away from white liberals, especially white feminists and present them in their proper, full contexts without the smug colorblindness they're usually attached to. All of our analyses are Pan-African and Africana Womanist (NOT Feminist and yes there is a difference).
This Excerpt is about Bessie Coleman. The full page for her from the book was readily available online so if you don't have the book at this point, you can still participate!
Bessie grew up in a small segregated town in Texas. At home, with three younger siblings around, she had a lot of responsibilities- washing clothes by hand, fetching clean water- on top fo walking four miles to school and back every day. Bessie knew that one day she would leave her small town. In 1935 she moved to Chicago to live with her older brothers. Returning from World War I, they told her all about being in France and about how the women there could fly planes- unlike the women in America. This got Bessie curious- furiously curious. She applied to every aviation school in America that she could find but was denied entry. No one at any of these schools thought a girl could fly- especially not a black girl. Bessie wanted to prove them wrong. in 2910, she moved to France where she could finally learn aviation. She was so gifted, she graduated from the ten month flight school in only seven months. So, in 1921, Bessie became the first African American woman in the world to receive her pilots license. She specialized in stunt flying, parachuting, and aerial tricks. After returning home to the United States, Bessie flew for huge crowds. She was very popular among both white and black Americans and she stood up against segregation and discrimination whenever she could. She hoped to open up her own flight school to teach other girls of color how to fly. Unfortunately, during a show in 1926 a mechanical issue caused her plane to crash. Bessie passed away, but her legacy lives on. In 1977, the Bessie Coleman Aviators Club opened in Chicago to support women of all races in reaching their dreams of flying.
Conversations to have with yourself, your little ones, your classroom, or your co-workers and resources to further educate: