We Are Shining Stars!

Greetings good people! We are so enjoying this month of celebrating our history and achievements and the truth is there are sooooooooooooooooo many to celebrate!! That is the reality of people of the African diaspora and so with that truth I draw inspiration from one of the badddest bands of all time, Earth, Wind and Fire (EW&F).  They made history today, in 1975 when “You’re a Shining Star” was on its way to topping the R&B and Pop music charts.  Mastering a multitude of genres including soul, funk, disco, rock, Latin and African music as well; they are one of the most successful bands of all time.

The lyrics are perfect for every day of this month and any day we recognize Black brilliance, achievement and history.  It is a message that we need to communicate to our children so that they can see their own brilliance through the lives and experiences of people who look like them.

You’re a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be
You’re a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be

Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be
Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be
Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be

There are constellations upon constellations to celebrate on any given day so today, February 8, we highlight an Olympic figure skater, a media mogul, a groundbreaking journalist and a World Series pitcher.

Debi Thomas.pngOn this day in 1986, Debi Thomas became the first African American to win the Women’s Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship competition.  Thomas would go on to make history as the first Black athlete to win a medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. She went on to earn her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and eventually became a physician. Despite personal difficulties in her life, Ms. Thomas’ brilliance and achievements make her a shining star indeed.



Harry McAlpin.png

When we consider how mystifying current White House press conferences are, it is easy to forget that Black journalists did not always have access to these events.  Harry McAlpin became the first Black journalist to be given press credentials by the White House. McAlpin was a former Navy war correspondent and reporter for the Atlanta Daily World as well as the National Negro Press Association.  He “broke the press corps”, in 1944,when he received his press credentials to attend an upcoming conference with President Franklin Roosevelt. McAlpin paved the way for other Black journalists to gain their press credentials in the following years.


In 1986 Oprah Winfrey became the first African American woman to host a nationally syndicated talk show. oprah“The Oprah Winfrey Show” was among the highest-rated program of its kind in history. The popular program aired from 1986 to 2011. Winfrey is ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, and by some measures she is considered the greatest black philanthropist in American history and was for a time the world’s only black billionaire. There is no doubt that she is one of the most influential women in the world.

Joe Black.png


We know Jackie Robinson brought down the color barrier in 1947, but we may not be aware that pitcher, Joe Black made history in 1952 when he became the first Black pitcher to win a World Series. Both in the minor leagues and as Robinson’s teammate with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Black demonstrated his commitment to racial justice by pushing for pensions for Negro League players including those who played before 1944. Even after his retirement Black continued to lobby for African American baseball players and served as an advisor and mentor.

So many bright stars for our students to see and learn about. Even if you are not an EW&F fan (although I cannot imagine why not) play this song for them while they arrive to class and settle in.  Let the message of confidence and encouragement seep in to their minds. Because what matters most this month and every day is not only the knowledge they gain about Black achievements but also the blueprint they can follow to build their own greatness.

Peace and love good people.


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