Black women in history lessons for kids and resources to study for Women in History Month in March, International Black Women’s History month in April, Black History Month in February, or history lessons for kids any time of year. These fearless and famous African American women in history may be historical women your kids never heard of, but are bold women who deserve a place in children’s lesson plans, especially since they may fall into lesser known or unknown black history figures by kids.
FEARLESS BLACK WOMEN IN HISTORY YOUR KIDS SHOULD KNOW
When we study black women in history, we often include courageous women like Harriet Tubman or Rosa Parks and other famous black women in history. But, there are many other African American women who deserve the spotlight, too — famous and influential black American leaders in their own ways from singers to Black female inventors in history and more!
Black Female Heroes and Black Women in History for Kids To Learn About
Add these stories of Black women to your lessons:
- Raye Montague
- Florence Mills
- Ella Baker
- Christine Darden
- Mary Jackson
- Mae Jemison
- Shirley Chisholm
- Etta James
- Claudette Colvin
- Mamie Johnson
(Don’t miss the full list of Black women in American history below for ideas for K-12 students!)
We’ll talk about black women in science and engineering (STEM studies), black female heroes, female black history pioneers, and other famous black women your kids may not have heard of or studied, but should definitely know as a way to celebrate women’s history lessons!
There are many women of color to study in history, so don’t stop here! We’ve just given you a starting list!
Important Black Women in History for Kids to Learn About
Black Woman in History: Raye Montague
Raye Montague is one of the amazing black women scientists who revolutionized the way things were done in the U.S. Navy.
As an American naval engineer and ship designer, Montague created the first computer generated U.S. naval ship.
Raye Montague facts:
- First female program manager of ships in the United States Navy.
- Revolutionized how ships and submarines were designed.
- First female professional engineer to receive the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Achievement Award and the National Computer Graphics Association Award for the Advancement of Computer Graphics.
- Awarded the navy’s third-highest honorary award, the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
Raye Montague quotes:
“Don’t let anyone tell you no. Keep going, if it’s something you really want, work really hard and try to achieve your goal.”
Black Woman in History: Christine Darden
Christine Darden is an American mathematician, data analyst, and aeronautical engineer. She is known for researching supersonic flight and sonic booms for NASA.
She is credited for some of NASA’s major successes over the years.
Christine Darden facts:
- The highest mathematics classes Darden had in high school were algebra and plain geometry!
- She won the Congressional Gold Medal.
- Darden received a PhD in Fluid Mechanics while working full time at NASA.
- She authored more than 50 publications in her field!
- Darden was one of the four women highlighted in Hidden Figures.
Black Woman in History: Mary Jackson
Mary Jackson was an African American mathematician and also an engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
She was NASA’s first Black female engineer during the height of racial segregation. Not only was it unusual to have Black engineers during this time, it was unusual for companies to hire women engineers.
Her story was also recounted in the film, Hidden Figures.
- Mary Jackson graduated with honors from high school.
- Before joining NASA, she was a math teacher.
- She was named Langley’s Volunteer of the Year in 1976.
- Jackson spent 30 years as a Girl Scout Troop Leader.
Black Woman in History: Florence Mills
Florence Mills was one of the most popular African American singers and dancers of the 1920s Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance.
She was known to connect with audiences of all colors, rising about racial division during that time.
Mills was known as “Queen of Happiness.”
Sadly, in 1927, she died after appendicitis surgery.
Florence Mills facts:
- Mills had a famous slick, bobbed hairstyle, which people all over the world imitated.
- In 1924, she was only 1 of 2 African American women photographed for a full spread in Vanity Fair magazine.
- Mills had a revue written just for her called Blackbirds. Florence was so good that the Prince of Wales during that time saw it over 16 times!
- 150,000 people lined the streets of Harlem for her funeral procession.
- No vocal recordings of Florence Mills exist today.
Check out this site for more amazing information and photographs of Florence Mills.
Black Women in History: Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison is another one of the important Black female scientists in history because she was the first Black woman in space.
She graduated high school at the age of 16 and went to Stanford University. Jemison received dual degrees in degrees in chemical engineering and African American studies. After Stanford, she completed medical school.
Jemison went on to be a physician and engineer and a NASA astronaut.
After completing her NASA mission, she developed her own organization for advancing technologies.
Black Woman in History: Ella Baker
We know of many black women and leaders of the civil rights movement, but do you know about Ella Baker?
Baker spent more than 50 years fighting for civil and human rights and fighting against Jim Crow laws — part of important events in Black women’s history. However, her works were mostly behind the scenes, so she is rarely credited for her roles in those movements and in history.
She was known not only for fighting for rights of people, but also for inspiring and encouraging young people and students to fight for rights and become involved in movements.
Ella Baker facts:
- Co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which was led by Martin Luther King.
- Baker inspired the creation of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
- Served a long career supporting the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
- Her nickname was Fundi, a Swahili word, which means a person who teaches a craft to the next generation.
Black Woman in History: Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm was a political activist and the first black woman elected to the United States Congress.
Chisholm fought for racial and gender equality, people in poverty, and the end of war.
She was the first woman and the first African American to seek out nomination for President of the United States back in 1972!
Shirley Chisholm facts:
- Chisholm served seven terms in Congress, from 1969 to 1983.
- Shirley’s political nickname was Fighting Shirley.
- Her campaign slogan was Unbought and Unbossed.
- Before her political career, Chisholm was a nursery school teacher.
- In the 1990s, she declined the nomination to become U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica because she was sick.
Shirley Chisholm quotes:
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
Black Woman In History: Etta James
Etta James was American rhythm and blues singer. She became one of the first women to sing in the ballad style that became known as soul.
She is credited as one of the people that helped “bridge the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll.”
Etta James facts:
- Etta’s birth name is Jamesetta Hawkins. Her stage name came after it was suggested she reverse her first name of Jamesetta to get Etta James.
- James fell on and off the music charts throughout her career due to personal life struggles.
- She won 4 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.
- James was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the Grammy Hall of Fame.
- Rolling Stone magazine rated Etta James as #22 on their top 100 greatest singers of all time.
- Etta inspired many female musicians today, from Beyonce to Adele!
At Last (One of James most popular songs)
Black Woman in History: Mamie Johnson
Mamie Johnson was a professional woman baseball player and only one of three women to play in the Negro Baseball League.
She was the first female pitcher to play in the Negro Leagues, starting at age 17.
Mamie Johnson facts:
- Mamie Johnson’s nickname was Peanut because of her small size.
- In high school, she played male sports, including football, which was unheard of during the 40s and 50s!
- She was a pitcher for the Indianapolis Clowns at age 22.
- Before her professional baseball career, Johnson studied medicine and engineering at New York University.
- After her career in baseball, Mamie worked as a nurse for 30 years!
Black Woman in History: Claudette Colvin
Claudette Colvin, like Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger and move to the back of the bus to sit.
She was only 15 years old when she took this courageous stand, stating that it violated her constitutional rights.
Colvin was dragged off the bus and arrested, the first woman to be arrested for refusing to sit in the segregated section of the bus.
Even though Colvin’s refusal took place 9 months before Rosa Park’s refusal on the bus, her story was never as well known as Park’s story that sparked the Montgomery Bus Protest. Even in Black women’s history museum exhibits, she is often a side note under a the larger Rosa Parks museum exhibits.
Colvin went on to become a nurse.
Study More Important Black Women In History With These Black History Children’s Books
We hope that you use this list as a jumping off point and are inspired to continue honoring the role of black women in history by learning more and creating your own list!