Three Black leaders in learning who helped shape the future

• 2 min read

Three Black leaders in learning

Learning is a universal human experience. And that experience is shaped by the efforts, innovations, and accomplishments of many. In North America, February is Black History Month – a celebration of the many and meaningful contributions Black Americans have made to our culture and history. In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to highlight just a few of the ways Black Americans have transformed learning and our communities for the better.

Portrait of Fanny Jackson Coppin


Fanny Jackson Coppin

An American educator, missionary and a lifelong advocate for female higher education, Coppin was also the first female principal at the Institute for Colored Youth. During her 37 years in this role, she championed the democratization of education for all children – especially young girls – and inspired many to follow in her shoes.



Portrait of Edmund W. Gordon


Edmund W. Gordon

In 1965, Gordon, professor of psychology, became involved in Head Start, a child development, early education, and community improvement initiative. To date, the program has helped promote school readiness for more than 35 million young children and continues to positively impact families and communities involved.



Portrait of Nathan Hare


Nathan Hare

American sociologist, activist, academic, and psychologist, Hare created the first-ever Black Studies program. Today, more than 50 years later, thanks to Hare’s pioneering efforts at San Francisco State, more than 350 colleges and universities have formal Black Studies programs. 




“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”

– Marian Wright Edelman


Learning creates awareness and drives progress. It empowers and unites us. It’s what propels society forward. We wouldn’t be where we are today without pioneers like Coppin, Gordon, and Hare – and so many others – whose efforts have improved our academic systems, our communities, and our lives. 

In the spirit of continuous learning, we’ve rounded up some resources that celebrate Black History to bring awareness to the monumental accomplishments that have shaped our history and culture. Because the more we learn, the more we know. And the more we know, the more we grow.

Must-watch Black History documentaries 

  • The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
  • Freedom Riders
  • Slavery by Another Name
  • Eyes on the Prize
  • The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Books to read during Back History Month  

  • The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.
  • Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham
  • The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles M. Blow
  • Just as I Am by Cicely Tyson
  • Make Me Rain by Nikki Giovanni

Spotify playlists

  • BlackLivesMatter
  • Black Queer and Proud
  • We Shall Overcome
  • We Everywhere
  • #ThrowbackThursday


  • 1619 from The New York Times
  • In the Dark, S2 by APM Reports
  • Busy Being Black by Wizard Studios
  • Yo, Is This Racist? by Earworlf & Tawney Newsome, Andrew Ti
  • Code Switch by NPR