By Christina Maxouris, CNN
Black history is American history.It’s easy to say. But while most grade school teachers agree that the experience and contributions of African-Americans are essential to understanding the nation’s past, only about 9% of total class time — about one or two lessons — gets devoted to it, a 2015 study by the National Council for the Social Studies found.Part of why, the study found, is that teachers often lack the confidence to teach black history and aren’t sure “how and what content should be delivered.”Certainly worthy are these trailblazers, who excelled in fields that, until they made their mark, had been off-limits to black women.
The first published poet
Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American poet to publish a book.Born in 1753, she was brought to New England from West Africa as a slave when she was nearly 8 years old.The Wheatley family purchased and named the young girl, and after discovering her passion for writing (they caught her writing with chalk on a wall), tutored her in reading and writing.She studied English literature, Latin, Greek and The Bible. With the family’s help, Phillis Wheatley traveled to London in 1773 and published her first poems. Soon after, when she returned to …