Unsung Hero Spotlight: Black Girls Breathing

8 Writing Prompts Celebrating Black Ingenuity and Innovation

Unsung Hero Spotlight: Black Girls Breathing

Spotlight On: Actor/Writer/Producer Tyler Perry
Text Type: Informative Writing

Background: Tell students that Tyler Perry (1969–) is the mastermind behind popular plays, movies, TV shows, and New York Times bestselling books.

He portrayed his most famous character, Madea, in plays that eventually made the leap to the big screen, with the franchise grossing more than $500 million.

Popular TV shows The Walking Dead and blockbuster movies Black Panther were shot at Tyler Perry Studios, in Atlanta, Georgia. But Perry’s success belies a difficult childhood that almost destroyed him.

His father often beat him, which Perry says led him to attempt suicide. In his early 20s, he saw an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in which Oprah described the therapeutic effect of writing. Perry started writing down everything that happened to him. He believes writing saved his life.

Talk It Over: Read aloud this quote by Perry: My biggest success is getting over the things that have tried to destroy and take me this life. Those are my biggest successes. It has nothing to do with work.” Remind students that Perry uses writing as therapy. Ask: Do you agree with Perry’s idea of “success”? Explain.

Writing Prompt: Think about a hobby or interest that brings you calm, such as cooking, coding, dancing, or drawing. Write an informative essay, create a brochure, or design a PowerPoint presentation that describes the benefits of the activity and how it affects your state of mind.

Black History Writing Prompt #4

Spotlight On: Artist Amy Sherald
Text Type: Poetry

Background: Tell students that First Lady Michelle Obama chose Amy Sherald (1973–) to paint Mrs. Obama’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery shortly after Sherald won the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Mrs.

Obama described an immediate connection upon meeting Sherald, feeling «blown away by the boldness of her colors and the uniqueness of her subject matter.” But not everyone s such bold paintings. Sherald received quite a bit of flack for the portrait.

Her vision of how to paint the first African-American First Lady wasn’t typical, and this is partly what makes her an innovator.

Talk It Over: Read aloud Sherald’s response to those who didn’t understand her painting style: “Some people their poetry to rhyme. Some people don’t; that’s fine. It’s cool.” Ask: What is Sherald saying about people’s taste in art? How does Sherald view art? What do you think about the portrait of the First Lady? What do you think people objected to?

Writing Prompt: Write a poem of three or more lines, rhyming or not, that captures an emotion in vivid detail. Think about a strong emotion you’ve experienced lately.

It could be how you felt when you saw Sherald’s portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, or the feeling of learning how people reacted against it.

If you’d to write about something more personal, consider writing about how you felt on a recent Zoom call, or when a parent or caregiver reprimanded or praised you. What emotion did you feel? Close your eyes and try to visualize what you remember.

Black History Writing Prompt #5

Spotlight On: Electrical Engineer Kimberly Bryant
Text Type: Textual Analysis

Background: Tell students that Kimberly Bryant (1967–) is an electrical engineer who worked in biotechnology for companies including Genentech, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, and Merck.

In 2011, she founded the nonprofit Black Girls Code to teach basic programming to Black girls who are underrepresented in technology careers.

Bryant has been listed as one of the «25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology.»

Talk It Over: Read aloud this quote by Kimberly Bryant: “You can absolutely be what you can't see! That's what innovators and disruptors do.

” Ask: What makes Bryant an innovator and disrupter? How could you be an innovator and create solutions to the problems you see around you? How could you disrupt unfairness that you see? Could you use a hobby or talent to innovate and disrupt?

Writing Prompt: Visit the Black Girls Code site. Scan the homepage and write down the following:

  • Company slogan
  • One-sentence summary of the company’s vision
  • The headline of one article that appears on the site
  • A summary of the article’s central points
  • A description of the article’s purpose (i.e. entertain, inform, persuade, examine/explore an issue, describe/report, instruct), along with evidence from the text to support your claim

Learn code or create your own website that highlights the thing you love to do and that makes you different from everyone else. You might consider using the website as a way to innovate or disrupt. Keep the website updated weekly.

Black History Writing Prompt #6

Spotlight On: Singer/Songwriter Stevie Wonder
Text Type: Research Writing

Background: Stevie Wonder (1950–) is a pioneer in the music industry who never let his blindness stop him from achieving anything he wanted in life.

To date, the singer-songwriter has picked up 25 Grammy Awards and an Oscar, sold over 100 million records worldwide, and has been inducted into the Rock & Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame. The release of his song «Happy Birthday» in 1980, followed by tireless campaigning, led to the establishment of Dr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1986. A tech-savvy musician himself, Wonder has pushed for advancements that make technology accessible for blind and deaf people.

Talk It Over: Read aloud this quote by Stevie Wonder: “Do you know, it's funny, but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being Black as a disadvantage.” Ask: Does this quote surprise you? Why or why not? Why might some people see being blind or Black as a disadvantage? How might technology help address disability or racism?

Writing Prompt: Think about the problems we face today—from racism to blindness to COVID-19, cancer, global warming, bullying, over-policing, you name it. Choose one of the problems and conduct research to answer these questions:

  1. What is the problem? Describe it.
  2. Who is this problem affecting most?
  3. Who are the experts trying to solve the problem?
  4. What technology are they creating to solve the problem?
  5. What are the pros and cons of the technology?

Black History Writing Prompt #7

Spotlight On: Rapper Kendrick Lamar
Text Type: Interview

Background: Tell students that Kendrick Lamar (1987–) has won 13 Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, a Brit Award, 11 MTV Video Music Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and an Academy Award nomination. In 2015, he received the California State Senate's Generational Icon award. Three of his studio albums have been listed in Rolling Stone's «The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2020).»

Talk It Over: Share this quote by Lamar with your students: “It took a long time for people to embrace us (rappers)—people outside of our community, our culture—to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax.” Ask: Why do you think people different genres of music? Why do you think some people, after 50 years, still don’t view rap as real music?

Writing Prompt: Think about three people you know who are different in some way. Their differences can be demographics race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ability. Choose one demographic (age, for example) and interview three people that demographic (a child, an adult, an elderly person) using these two questions:

  1. What is your favorite genre of music?
  2. What do you think about rap music?

Record your interview and type your transcript. Present your findings to the class in the form of a newscast using a video recording app. Your newscast should be pre-recorded. Finally, record 30 seconds at the end talking about how each interviewees’ perspective is similar and different.

Black History Writing Prompt #8

Spotlight On: Science Fiction Author Octavia E. Butler
Text Type: Science Fiction Writing

Background: Tell students that Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) wrote science fiction novels that blend mysticism, mythology, and African American spiritualism. Her work has garnered numerous awards.

In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Foundation award, or “genius grant,” and in 2000 she won a PEN Award for lifetime achievement.

In 2010, she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Talk It Over: Read aloud this quote by Octavia Butler: “If you want a thing — truly want it, want it so badly that you need it as you need air to breathe, then unless you die, you will have it. Why not? It has you…” Ask: What does she mean when she talks about wanting a thing the way you need air to breathe? What is she telling us about the things that drive us?

Writing Prompt: Imagine that it’s 30 years in the future. Will people be living on Mars? Will we have flying cars? Will there still be poverty, or racism? Write a one-page fantasy story in which the Earth is threatened with certain destruction.

You as the main character must use your superpower to save the world. Your superpower is whatever you are passionate about—music, debating, helping people, athletics, acting, writing, designing, or something else entirely. You can do things with your superpower that are unreal.

The human race is counting on you. Good luck!

More Ideas for Black History Writing Prompts

This post focused on Black ingenuity and innovation. Have any other theme ideas for Black History Month writing prompts? Share them with us on (@TheTeacherRoom) or .

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


Try Writable to support your ELA curriculum, district benchmarks, and state standards with more than 600 fully customizable writing assignments and rubrics for students in Grades 3-12. Learn more.

Источник: https://www.hmhco.com/blog/black-history-month-writing-prompts

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Hero Spotlight: Black Girls Breathing

Brianna Ellis-MitchellWikimedia Commons

Contrary to popular belief, romance fiction encompasses more than just sex.

I write historical romance featuring 19th century African Americans — and while I've written my fair share of love scenes, it's a great story infused with characters worth rooting for that keeps millions of dedicated romance readers turning the pages.

One of my greatest joys in writing this kind of romance is the research: Poring over diaries, old newspaper accounts, and scholarly works published by noted historians is akin to panning for gold.

Many of the nuggets I find center on people whose identities and accomplishments have been lost through time. People I call the Unsung.

In order to close out Black History Month, I thought I'd spotlight a couple of those unsung heroes you need to learn about. Dr. Alexander T. Augusta and Maria W.

Stewart were forces of nature during their lifetimes, but are now relegated to the back porch of history.

I'm a firm believer in the notion that when someone's history is resurrected, that person lives again, so let us breathe new life into these unsung heroes today and always.

Maria W. Stewart

If you're female, and have spoken before an audience of women and men, you have the unsung Maria W. Stewart to thank. Born Maria Miller in 1803 in Hartford, Connecticut, Maria (sometimes cited as Mariah) was orphaned at the age of 5, and bound out as a servant to a local white minister until she was 15.

At the age of 23 she married James Stewart, a free black shipping master on the Boston waterfront, and a veteran of the War of 1812. When he died three years later, his business partner cheated her his estate, but Rep. Maxine Waters, she reclaimed her time, persisted Rep.

Elizabeth Warren, and went on to become both an evangelist and a fiery advocate for abolition.

According to historian Dorothy S. Sterling's groundbreaking book «We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the 19th Century,» Mrs. Stewart, a black abolitionist, became the first American woman, of any race, to lecture publicly to a «promiscuous» gathering. (Back then, «promiscuous» meant mixed gender.

) Borrowing language from the Bible, and using it to defend her right to speak publicly, she took on the issues of civil rights and abolition during a September 21, 1832 lecture at Boston's Franklin Hall.

She preached, implored, and chastised, much to the displeasure of the city's black male religious leaders who found her words as offensive as her gender.

They didn't care that she was mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, a prominent white abolitionist and suffragist, who'd published her essays in his newspaper, The Liberator. She was a woman, and women had no business speaking publicly, or quoting the Word of God.

Ignoring their criticism, she continued to lecture until the atmosphere became so hostile, she decided to leave Boston. In her farewell address, given September 23, 1833, almost a year to the day she'd made history, she again defended the rights of women to speak.

After fleeing Boston, she became a teacher and taught school in New York, Brooklyn, and Washington, DC, where she also became a matron of the city's black Freedmen's Hospital.

Historian Dorothy Sterling believes Stewart's experiences in Boston cut her deeply, because she never spoke from a public platform again. She died in 1879.

Dr. Alexander T. Augusta

Freedmen's Hospital also figures into the life of Dr. Alexander T. Augusta.

He was the highest ranking black officer in the United States Colored Troops; the first African American to lead a United States hospital; and our nation's first black medical school professor.

Born free in Norfolk, Virginia in 1825, he grew up with the dream of becoming a doctor. His application to the University of Pennsylvania was denied because of his race, but a member of the faculty took him under his wing and taught the ambitious Augusta privately.

In 1850 Augusta and his wife, Mary O. Burgoin, a Native American woman, moved to Toronto, where he'd been accepted as a student by the University of Toronto's Medical College. After earning his certification, he was appointed head of Toronto's City Hospital.

When the U.S. Civil War began in 1861, black men weren't officially allowed to fight for the Union, but in 1863, that changed: Augusta, given the rank of Major, became the first of eight black officers commissioned. He served with the 7th U.S. Colored Infantry as its surgeon, but this came at a price to his dignity and his safety.

He was forced to write Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson to have his pay raised above that of white privates below his rank. In Baltimore, he was beaten by a mob for wearing his officer's uniform in public. His white assistants, also surgeons, complained about taking orders from a black man.

But he stuck it out, and by war's end, Augusta had been promoted to lieutenant colonel, making him the military's highest ranking, black officer.

A few years later, Howard University opened its medical school in 1868, and Dr. Augusta was among its first five faculty members. He taught there until 1877, and later led DC's Freedmen's Hospital.

Despite the many lives he saved on the battlefield, his spotless military record, and his stellar achievements before and after the war, the American Medical Association never recognized Dr. Augusta as a physician during his lifetime because of his race.

He died in 1890, and was the first black officer buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Beverly Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and is the 2017 recipient of the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Источник: https://www.shondaland.com/inspire/a15888059/unsung-heroes-maria-w-stewart-alexander-t-augusta/

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