To commemorate Black History Month, The NYCHA Journal is highlighting the Authority’s developments named after prominent Black Americans. Residents of these developments have permanent reminders of these trailblazers who made considerable contributions to American life throughout our nation’s history.
"Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history." – Dr. Carter G. Woodson
MARY McLEOD BETHUNE (1875-1955) – One of 17 children born to former enslaved people, she was a Black educator who sought improved racial relations and educational opportunities for Black Americans. She was part of the U.S. delegation to the first United Nations meeting in 1945. In 1935, she founded the National Council of Negro Women, was a special advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1940 became vice-president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Bethune Gardens is in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood.
LOUIS “SATCHMO” ARMSTRONG (1900 - 1971) - The great jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader was born in New Orleans, where he became known for his improvisational genius and the melodic development of jazz. Probably the world’s greatest jazz musician, Armstrong influenced generations of musicians with his inventive musical mind and technical abilities. Armstrong Houses is in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
CARTER G. WOODSON (1875 – 1950) – An American historian from a poor family who worked in Kentucky coal mines so he could support himself and go to school. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 and later edited the first edition of the association’s scholarly publication, The Journal of Negro History. He founded Negro History Week in 1926, which evolved into Black History Month celebrated in February, the month most slaves first heard of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery. The Amendment had been signed in January. Woodson Houses is in Brownsville, Brooklyn.