On August 31st 1936, Marva Collins was born in Monroeville, Alabama, at a time where educational discrimination was blatantly normal. Marva’s father Henry Knight made sure Marva and her sister would receive the best education they could despite discrimination. Blacks living in Monroeville did not have the same resources to earn a suitable education as the white children. With determination and a strong family structure Collins was able to defy the odds and earn admission into Clark College; which is now Clark Atlanta. After graduating from Clark College she taught within the Alabama school system for two years. Her next step was moving to Chicago and becoming a teacher within the school system.
After moving to Chicago she met who would eventually become her husband Mr. Clarence Collins. Mrs. Collins work as an educator within the Chicago school system for 14 years which helped shape her views on the school system. She believed that the system was flawed and did not help to advance the students who attended the schools. Her displeasure with the school system turned out to become a blessing in disguise. Mrs. Collins used $5,000 of her retirement funds to open the Westside Preparatory School in Chicago. She opened the school on the second floor of her home in the Garfield Park area. Mrs. Collins opened her doors to any students who wanted to attend her school.
She was adamant about educating the children that everyone else had given up on. Mrs. Collins was very serious about education and the positive effects it had on a person. She also believed that you should never give up on a child. During an interview with Ebony magazine she stated; “If Abraham Lincoln was enrolled in public schools today, he would probably be in a learning disability program. Lincoln didn’t learn to read until age 14. No one should rule any child out of the educational picture.” She stressed the idea of using education to better the lives of her people. Her dedication to education was showing early. After only a year of opening her school her students test scores were significantly higher that they tested the year prior.
Mrs. Collins used her brilliance to create a method of teaching that would push the students to give their best. Her method was called “The Collins Method;” it was centered on students learning through phonics, math, reading, English and classic literature. She was able to teach the children that were viewed as undesirables anything ranging from Homer to Plato. She stressed reading requiring her students to complete her mandated reading list. Mrs. Collins believed that students didn’t fail subjects teachers fail students. The success of her school gained national attention. She was featured in Time Magazine and Newsweek. She was also profiled on 60 Minutes and Good Morning America. Her love for her students and education was spreading throughout the country.
In 1982 Marva Collins’ life was depicted in a full length film and Cicely Tyson played the role of Marva Collins. As the school grew Mrs. Collins moved the school from her apartment building to its own building on the South Side of Chicago. She was also able to open locations for her school in Ohio and Florida, expanding her message to many more undesired children. The impact of Mrs. Collins’ educational efforts has allowed her to become a public speaker and a trusted advocate for education. She has authored several books, and received numerous honors for her efforts. She has received several awards such as the Humanitarian Award for Excellence and honorary doctorates from Amherst, Dartmouth, and Notre Dame. In 2004 she was honored by President Bush with the National Humanities Medal. In 2008 the Westside Preparatory School closed because of a lack of funds but the impact Mrs. Collins made will never be forgotten. She has taken children that others believed could not learn and turned them into doctors, lawyers, and successful business men and women. Mrs. Collins was dedicated to uplifting the minds of her students and that is exactly what she did. Marva Collins we thank you for your dedication to the children you taught and your dedication to education. Mrs. Marva Collins we stand on your shoulders.
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Medgar Evers was born in Decatur, Mississippi in 1925 to a family of farmers. At the age of 18 Evers was drafted into the U.S. Army. His stint in the army took him to France and Germany fighting in World War II. In 1946, Evers received an honorable discharge from the Army and he returned home to Mississippi. In 1948, he began pursuing higher education at Alcorn College which is now Alcorn State University. As a senior at Alcorn College, Evers met and married Myrlie Beasley, and they produced three children during their marriage. Evers graduated from college in 1952 and began working as an insurance salesman. He also became active with the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) which was a civil rights organization. While working with the RCNL, Evers organized a boycott of a local gas station that refused to let blacks use their restrooms.
Evers also began working with the NAACP helping to enhance local participation and partnerships. In 1954, Evers applied for admission into the University of Mississippi Law School, but his entry was rejected which led to a lawsuit against the school. Thurgood Marshall served as the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the school. Marshall, Evers, and the NAACP lost the lawsuit against the Law School, but it was another blow thrown in the fight against educational discrimination. In May of 1954, the decision in the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit came down ending the legal practice of discrimination in schools. Evers also became the first field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi in 1954. He and his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi because of his work with the NAACP. His position required him to travel to Mississippi to recruit new members and organize voter–registration.
Evers put the skills he learned with the RCNL to good use by organizing many boycotts of businesses that refused its black customers. By 1955, Evers was a well-known, well-respected civil rights activist in Mississippi. He led the charge against the Mississippi legal system because of the constant discrimination against its black citizens. He challenged the Mississippi police department to reinvestigate the murder of Emmitt Till in 1955 and protested the conviction of Clyde Kennard in 1960. The more Evers worked the more popular he became which made him a target of the local whites who hated him. He and his family faced numerous threats and violent actions by the whites who hated him. In 1963, his home was bombed by terrorists who disagreed with his ideas.
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was shot in his back and later died at the hospital. Evers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Later that year, the NAACP awarded him with their Spingarn Award. The attention the Evers murder received helped the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byron De La Beckwith was named as the lead suspect in the Evers murder because all of the evidence supported his guilt. Beckwith was a well-known racist and he received support from other racist whites including Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. In 1964, Beckwith was found not guilty and set free of all charges in two different trials. Myrlie Evers moved to California after the trial but she never gave up working to convict Beckwith of his killing of Medgar Evers. Her persistence paid off 31 years later when Beckwith was finally charged with the murder of Medgar Evers in 1994. Medgar Evers left a lasting impression on Mississippi, the Civil Rights movement, and blacks in the south. Mr. Evers showed the courage to stand and fight oppression even in the face of death. He dedicated his life to fighting injustices and helping blacks in the south live free of racism. Mr. Evers's legacy will live forever in American lore. Mr. Medgar Evers, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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Born on November 4th, 1942 in Harlem, New York to Rupert and Gladys Bath, Patricia’s path to greatness was piqued when her mother brought her a chemistry set as a young girl. From early on, Mrs. Bath was a hard worker and chose greatness. At the age of 16, she was picked as one of the few students to attend a cancer research workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She impressed the program head so much that he included her findings in a scientific paper presented to the workshop attendees. Due to her efforts, she was awarded the Mademoiselle Magazine’s Merit Award in 1960.
Bath headed to Hunter College after graduating high school in two years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 1964, and went on to graduate with honors from Howard University’s School of Medicine in 1968. After an internship at the Harlem Hospital, Bath began a fellowship in Ophthalmology (the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye) at Columbia University. During her time there, she discovered that African Americans were twice as likely to suffer from blindness and eight times more likely to develop glaucoma than other races. Bath’s research led to a community ophthalmology system, providing increased eye care for those who could not afford treatment. Patricia Bath became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and later moved to California to work as an assistant professor of surgery at Charles R. Drew Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. Upon taking her new position she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.
In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the prevention of blindness and by 1983 Bath helped create the ophthalmology Residency Program at UCLA-Drew. Bath chaired the program of which she also became the first woman in the nation to hold such a position. In 1981 Bath began working on her most well-known invention– the Laserphaco Probe, which she created in 1986. She was able to harness laser technology, creating less painful and more precise treatments of cataracts. She received a patent for the device in 1988, becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. She also holds patents in Japan, Canada and Europe for her Laserphaco Probe. Bath retired in 1993 becoming an honorary member of the UCLA medical staff and was also named “Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine”. Mrs. Bath was a strong advocate for telemedicine, which uses technology to provide medical services to remote areas. Mrs. Bath is a great inspiration and model of excellence. She is a pioneer, a visionary and a titan within her field. Mrs. Patricia Bath, we stand on your shoulders.
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On January 8, 1886 Timothy Drew was born in an unnamed city in North Carolina. It is said that he was born to former slaves before he was adopted by members of the Cherokee tribe. Other stories say that he was born to a Moroccan father and a Cherokee mother; his ethnic background would help shape his future. As a young boy Ali’s mother died leaving him in the care of his aunt who was abusive to him. At the age of 16 Ali would leave his caregivers to travel to world; his travels would change the course of his life. Many stories exist about how he would travel the world the most common is he joined a band of gypsies and traveled the world. Other accounts say that he joined a circus as a stage magician. What we do know is his travels led him to meeting and becoming the student of a high priest of an Egyptian Cult.
The priest saw Ali as the reincarnation of Jesus so he trained him in mysticism and gave him a book; the lost version of the life of Jesus. Ali would use the text to help further his knowledge and his mission. The text was later named the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America. The text is also known as the Circle Seven Koran. Ali would later become anointed by the priest as noble Drew Ali. He would then move forward to enlighten and awaken his people to the truth of their history by founding the Moorish Science Temple. In 1913 in Newark, New Jersey Ali founded the Canaanite Temple but because of his uncommon religious views he was forced out of New Jersey. Ali would move to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Detroit before settling in Chicago in 1925.
In 1926 he was able to build and officially register Temple No. 9 as a Moorish Science Temple. Ali was spreading Islam and Moorish consciousness throughout the black communities of America. By the late 1920’s there were 15,000 Moorish Science members and 17 temples in the United States. Noble Drew Ali was helping to awaken the sleeping minds of black America. The Moorish Science Temple experienced some division when Claude Green Bey declared himself Grand Sheik and left the Moorish Science Temple taking some of the temples members with him.
Shortly after Green Bey left the temple he was stabbed to death at the Unity Mosque in Chicago. Ali and his fellow members were arrested as instigators in the death of Green Bey; despite Ali not being in Chicago the night of the murder. While in the custody of the Chicago Police Ali and his members were beaten severely by the police before they were released on bond. On July 20, 1929 Noble Drew Ali was pronounced dead at his home. The exact cause of his death is unknown but many believe he died as a result of the injuries he received from the police.
Noble Drew Ali was a beacon of light for black America helping them understand their true origins by seeking knowledge of self. Ali’s Moorish Science Temple helped lay the foundation for the founding of the Nation of Islam. Wallace Fard Muhammad was a member of the Moorish Science Temple and the founder of the Nation of Islam. Noble Drew Ali was a contemporary of Marcus Garvey and like Garvey he dedicated himself to uplifting his people through knowledge and the application of knowledge. He believed that people of African descent in America should claim their Moorish origins and gain classification as a true nation. Ali was inspiring and a true pioneer in restoring consciousness into black America and restoring his people as a Moorish Nation. Noble Drew Ali we stand on your shoulders.
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