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BLACK HISTORY: Biddy Mason (1818-1891)

In this history lesson, students learn about the epic life and exemplary character of Biddy Mason, a woman who was born into slavery in the Deep South, walked to California as part of a pioneer caravan, fought for her freedom in court, and died a millionaire real-estate investor in Los Angeles. In addition to the highs and lows of Biddy’s dramatic life, this lesson asks students to study how she demonstrated the virtues of courage and charity, both in securing freedom for herself and her family and, later, using her fortune to invest in her community and provide relief to poor Californians of all races and religions. Free with registration.

BLACK HISTORY: Elijah McCoy (1844-1929)

In this history lesson, students learn about the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of Elijah McCoy, a prolific inventor who held 57 patents, mostly on designs related to locomotives. Born in Canada and educated in Scotland, he spent most of his professional life in and around Detroit, Michigan, working in the railroad industry while also continuing to produce new inventions. The son of escaped slaves, McCoy overcame early discrimination to become an internationally respected authority in his field. By the time of his death, McCoy was widely celebrated by his contemporaries as a leader and model for Black America in the first generation after Emancipation. This lesson asks students to consider how McCoy’s life experiences led him create such important innovations and ask why his inventions were so highly valued by manufacturers and consumers. Free with registration.

BUILDING CHARACTER: The Woodson Principles

Neighborhood empowerment advocate and civil rights movement veteran Robert L. Woodson has developed ten principles for personal growth and community development. He has used these principles throughout his decades of working with organizations that seek to transform low-income communities from within. In this lesson, students will learn about these principles, discuss their importance, and imagine ways to apply them in their own lives and the life of their communities. Free with registration.

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