Black History Heroes Every Student Should Know | Scholastic (2024)

Black History Heroes Every Student Should Know | Scholastic (1)

Black History Monthgives us an opportunity to highlight the lives of African American leaders, thinkers, and innovators in U.S. history. This collection of nonfiction books are sure to become fast favorites for your class.

Each book takes a deep dive into the life of a Black history hero — exploring the social and historical context behind their accomplishments and the impact they continue to have on our lives today.

1. Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is one of courage, strength, and empowerment. A civil rights leader, activist, and minister, King's life and work is beautifully detailed inMartin's Big Wordsthrough stunning collage art and watercolor paintings, using his own words.

2. Serena Williams, Pro Athlete

Ranked among the greatest tennis players of all time, Serena Williams is a tried-and-true champion on and off the court. Winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles and Olympic gold among many other accolades, Williams's hard work, grit, and talent have led her to dominate tournaments worldwide. Your class can learn more about Serena's life, her sport, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy inSerena Williams.

3. Malcolm X, Human Rights Activist

Rising to prominence during the civil rights movement, Malcolm X was a Muslim minister, human rights activist, and proponent for racial justice and equality. Working tirelessly to bring awareness of racial disparities in society, Malcolm X was a fierce proponent of civil liberties and positive change for the African American community in the U.S. Students will be riveted by his life story inMalcolm X: By Any Means Necessaryand make real-world connections with his work and legacy in modern times.

4. Katherine Johnson,Mathematician

Calling Katherine Johnson a math whiz is an understatement. Known as one of NASA’s “human computers” — along with Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden — she helped calculate the flight path that took Apollo 11 to the moon. InHidden Figures, students will learn about her accomplishments, build knowledge about the history of the civil rights movement and segregation, and get a glimpse of her work to get mankind to the moon.

5. Ruby Bridges, Civil Rights Activist

At the tender age of six, Ruby Bridges would make history. As the first African American child to attend a predominantly white elementary school in 1960 New Orleans, Louisiana, Bridges showed strength, resolve, and courage as she was escorted to and from school everyday by U.S. Marshals. Amidst protests, threats, and other dangers, Bridges continued to persevere in getting her education, being taught alone in a class until the following year at great cost to her and her family. Learn more about Bridges' experiences during the civil rights movement and beyond in her own words inRuby Bridges Goes to School.

6. Duke Ellington, American Composer

Born Edward Kennedy Ellington in 1899, the jazz pianist and composer earned the nickname "Duke" from his handsome looks and flashy clothes early on as he made a name for himself in Washington, D.C., and New York City jazz clubs. Considered a musical genius and one of the greatest American composers of all time, Ellington has penned more than one thousand compositions during his storied career. Have fun learning more about his vibrant life inDuke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestraby award-winning duo, author Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrator Brian Pinkney.

7. Madam C.J. Walker, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

As the first female self-made millionaire in America, Madam C.J. Walker has many achievements to her name, including being an accomplished inventor. Walker created a vast array ofgroundbreaking and pioneering products and tools for textured hair in the 1800s. She also invented the "Walker System" of haircare for hair and scalp disorders like alopecia. In addition, Walker was also a philanthropist and a political and social activist. ReadMadam C.J. Walker (Bright Minds)together as a class to learn more.

Shop more amazing books about Black history heroes below!You can find all books and activities atThe Teacher Store.

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Black History Heroes Every Student Should Know | Scholastic (2024)


Who is the greatest Black hero? ›

7 Black History Heroes Every Student Should Know
  • Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader. Rev. ...
  • Serena Williams, Pro Athlete. ...
  • Malcolm X, Human Rights Activist. ...
  • Katherine Johnson, Mathematician. ...
  • Ruby Bridges, Civil Rights Activist. ...
  • Duke Ellington, American Composer. ...
  • Madam C.J.
Jan 26, 2024

Who are the Black history heroes today? ›

Here are some of the current Black leaders creating change in our community today:
  • Ijeoma Oluo. Author, New York Times best-seller, and 2021 Stand Against Racism keynote.
  • Dr. Sharon Knight. ...
  • Maya Manus. ...
  • Michele Andrasik & Joycelyn Thomas. ...
  • Stacey Abrams. ...
  • Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. ...
  • Marcus Harrison Green. ...
  • Dominique Dawes.
Feb 1, 2023

Who is an important figure in Black history? ›

Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and Muhammad Ali are often mentioned—and rightfully so. But what do you know about other Black history heroes, like Claudette Colvin, Alice Coachman, or Shirley Chisholm? If their names don't immediately ring a bell, you're not alone.

Who is the Black national hero? ›

Martin Luther King Jr: Leader in the Civil Rights Movement

In his career, he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, and several other movements campaigning for the right to vote, desegregation, and other rights for African American people.

Who was first Black superhero? ›

Lion Man, also known as "The Lion of the Jungle," was created by Orrin C. Evans in 1947. He was the first black superhero to have his own comic book, "All-Negro Comics," which was published by Evans' company, the All-Negro Comics Inc.

Who are the Black heroes you never heard of? ›

Historical figures like Bessie Coleman, Max Robinson, and Marsha P. Johnson have transformed everything from modern aviation to media and activism. Others, including Alice Coachman, paved the way for other athletes to make history in their own right.

Who has the biggest impact on Black history? ›

These leaders have also had a significant impact in shaping the world we live in today.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the most well-known civil rights leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. ...
  • Rosa Parks. ...
  • Barack Obama. ...
  • Frederick Douglass. ...
  • oprah Winfrey. ...
  • Harriet Tubman. ...
  • Medgar Evers. ...
  • Jackie Robinson.
Mar 2, 2022

Who was the first Black famous person? ›

Richard Potter, America's First Black Celebrity - Black Heritage Trail NH.

Who are some famous Black activists? ›

Leaders in the Struggle for Civil Rights
  • Roy Wilkins. Introduced at the August 1963 March on Washington as "the acknowledged champion of civil rights in America," Roy Wilkins headed the oldest and largest of the civil rights organizations. ...
  • Whitney M. ...
  • A. ...
  • Bayard Rustin. ...
  • Martin Luther King Jr. ...
  • James Farmer. ...
  • John Lewis.

Who was the Black army hero? ›

Henry Johnson. Johnson, who President Theodore Roosevelt described as one of the “five bravest Americans” who served in the entire war, single-handedly fought off more than 20 Germans and saved a fellow soldier from capture – all while injured and armed only with a bolo knife.

Who was a Black hero? ›

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who is the real national hero? ›

Rizal is widely considered one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines and has been recommended to be so honored by an officially empaneled National Heroes Committee.

Who is the most famous Black superhero? ›

1. Black Panther. T'Challa the Black Panther is the King of Wakanda, a member of the Avengers, and one of the smartest men on the planet. Few people can match his combat skills and keen senses, and he's been able to best some the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe.

Who is the best Black man in history? ›

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who is the greatest Black actor of all time? ›

100 greatest black actors of all time
  1. Denzel Washington. Actor. Producer. Director Fences (2016) ...
  2. Forest Whitaker. Actor. Producer. ...
  3. Morgan Freeman. Actor. Producer. ...
  4. Cuba Gooding Jr. Actor. Writer. ...
  5. Will Smith. Producer. Actor. ...
  6. Mekhi Phifer. Actor. Producer. ...
  7. Laurence Fishburne. Actor. Producer. ...
  8. Wesley Snipes. Actor. Producer.

Who is the Black guy super hero? ›

DC Comics
NameAlter Ego(s)First Appearance
BlobSpeed Demon #1
BloodsportRobert DuBoisSuperman (vol. 2) #4
BloodwyndJustice League of America (vol. 2) #61
Bronze TigerBen TurnerRichard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #1
53 more rows

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