Heroes from black history — Bridget "Biddy" Mason, Bass Reeves, and Frederick Jones.

Highlighting Heroes from Black History

Feb. 9, 2023 • by Studies Weekly

February is Black History Month, and is a great time to focus on the contributions of Black people throughout history.

Often, as teachers focus on Black History during February and throughout their instruction, children “are empowered to contribute more fully to their local community, and the community comes to understand itself better,” said Chuck Yarborough in a Feb. 2022 Education Week article.

Here are a few heroes who can inspire your students.

Bridget Mason

Biddy Mason

Bridget Mason, Wiki Commons

Though Bridget “Biddy” Mason was born enslaved, she was able to earn her freedom when she was moved to California, a non-slave state. Once freed, she built herself up to be, “one of the first prominent citizens and landowners in Los Angeles in the 1850s and 1860s. She also founded the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles in 1872,” according to an article about Bridget Mason from the National Park Service.

Biddy can inspire students to reach for success in their own lives. Her example of climbing up from the bottom to the top is relatable to many people.


Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves, Wiki Commons

Bass Reeves was also enslaved, but escaped and became very successful. In 1875, Reeves became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the Arkansas territory. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Reeves arrested more than 3,000 outlaws in his service to his country. He later became a police officer in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Reeves can teach students about first responders and being active in the community.




Frederick Jones

Frederick Jones

Frederick Jones, Wiki Commons

One of Frederick Jones’ inventions literally saved lives during his lifetime and continues to do so today. Orphaned at a young age, Jones lived with a Catholic priest before dropping out of school and looking for work 11. He became a mechanic, electrical engineer, and inventor.

In the 1930s he invented a portable refrigeration unit for vehicles. According to blackpast.org, his invention completely changed the food industry, as farmers and food suppliers could transport their perishable goods to people all over the world. During WWII, his units became indispensable in transporting blood serum and medicines to field hospitals. A modified version of his refrigeration units are still used today.

Jones’ experiences can teach students that they can use their talents in many ways to serve and help others.

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