Black History Month Spotlight: Angela Rye & Josephine Baker!

Black History Month: February 2019

To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week beginning on Feb. 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.


Angela Rye is an attorney and the Principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies — a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. Rye is also a political commentator on CNN and a NPR political analyst. She has served as the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress. 


  • Born on October 26, 1979 in Seattle, Washington. 
  • Received her B.A. at the University of Washington, and her J.D. at Seattle University. 
  • Founded IMPACT Strategies — a political advocacy firm, in 2013. 
  • Served as the Senior Advisor and Counsel to the House Committee of Homeland Security.
  • Worked in the district office of Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA).
  • Served as the Western Region Director of the National Black Law Students Association. 


  • “If our culture is so often readily and easily appropriated, imagine what happens when we embrace our full blackness and know that our contributions are just as important to the shaping of the country and, more broadly, the world.”
  • “If I can, in any way, give people the courage to say, 'Actually, no, the nonsense stops right here,' then I want to be a part of doing that. Especially if that means that our folks will be more free.” 
  • “I am tired of people telling me that black people are beneath a standard when we have to be twice as good all the time.” 


Angela Rye ends her State of the Union: [“Your silence, your lack of action is an endorsement of this hatred fueling violence. How are you going to allow someone to say we don't belong on the soil of the very country we built. This is not about them. It's about us. What will it take for you to stand up, to show up, to force constructive change.”] SOUNDCUE (:19 OC . . . force constructive change)


  • In 1794, France abolishes slavery.
  • In 1913, Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama.
  • In 1986, a stamp of Sojourner Truth is issues by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • In 1996, J.C. Watts becomes the first African American selected to respond to the State of the Union address.  
  • In 2005, Ossie Davis, who was married to Ruby Dee and was also an American writer, actor, director, and social activist known for his contributions to African American theatre and film and for his passionate support of civil rights and humanitarian causes, dies.
  • In 2007, Tony Dungy becomes the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl when his Colts defeated the Chicago Bears on February 4th.



Which African-American entertainer was the first to star in his own television series

A) Sammy Davis, Jr.

B) Nat King Cole

C) Bill Cosby

The answer is B) Nat King Cole

Cole's variety series, The Nat King Cole Show ran for 64 weeks in 1956 and 1957 on NBC. Cosby was the first African American to star in a dramatic television series, I Spy, which co-starred Robert Culp and ran from 1965 to 1968.



Howard University: Howard University, located in Washington, D.C., is one of the most noted African-American institutions of higher learning. It was founded in 1867 and named after respected war hero General Oliver Otis Howard. It was originally intended to be a theological seminary for African-American members of the clergy. However, liberal arts and medicine were the first areas of studies for the campus. Howard now offers a full curriculum of studies. Although predominantly a black university, the school has been open since its founding to all qualified students.


Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906. Her mother and father split up early, so little Josephine started working at age eight. She got a job as a dancer in a chorus line while still in high school and at 17 was a dancer in a hit show called 'Shuffle Along' by Noble Sissle. In 1925, though her life changed. She went to Paris as part of an all black revue and was so wildly received by the French, that she was signed to star in Paris' famed Folies Bergere. That was it, she became a major French and European star. She was married a few times and adopted children of all races. And Josephine Baker was inducted in the French legion of honor for her work with the underground resistance movement during World War II. Nevertheless, when she was booked to star back in the states on Broadway later on, whites walked out of the show. Josephine Baker died in Paris, France in 1975.


A reel of Angela Rye's monumental moments: