Honoring Black History Month
Unity Center of Peace will be honoring two outstanding African Americans each Sunday in February.
George Moses Horton
Join us on February 18th as we honor George Moses Horton during our Sunday Celebration announcements!
George Moses Horton (1797–1883) was an African American poet and one of the earliest published black writers in the United States. Born into slavery in North Carolina (Chatham County), Horton taught himself to read and write despite laws prohibiting the education of enslaved individuals. He began composing poetry in his teens and eventually became known for his skillful use of language and poignant expression. Despite his status as a slave, Horton managed to publish his first collection of poetry, "The Hope of Liberty," in 1829, with the support of sympathetic patrons who recognized his talent. This made him the first African American in the Southern United States to publish a book.
Throughout his life, Horton continued to compose and perform poetry, often focusing on themes of freedom, equality, and the human experience. Despite facing numerous challenges and limitations due to his enslaved status, Horton's poetry garnered attention for its lyrical beauty and social commentary.
After the Civil War and emancipation, Horton continued to write and perform poetry, gaining recognition for his contributions to American literature. He published two more collections of poetry, "Naked Genius" (1865) and "Poetical Works" (1893).
George Moses Horton's legacy as a pioneering African American poet endures, serving as an inspiration for generations of writers and activists advocating for equality and justice. His work remains an important part of American literary history, highlighting the resilience and creativity of marginalized voices.
Madam C.J. Walker
Join us on February 18th as we honor Madam C.J. Walker during our Sunday Celebration announcements!
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 in Louisiana, was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and one of the most successful businesswomen of her time. Orphaned at a young age, she faced poverty, discrimination, and limited access to education. Despite these challenges, she rose to become a pioneer in the hair care industry.
Struggling with hair loss herself, Walker experimented with various homemade remedies and eventually developed her own line of hair care products for African American women. In 1905, she founded the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her products, including the "Walker System" of hair care, became wildly popular, and she employed thousands of sales agents, mostly African American women, who sold her products door-to-door.
Walker's business acumen and marketing strategies were revolutionary for her time. She utilized innovative advertising techniques, such as endorsing her products with testimonials and demonstrations, and she empowered other African American women to achieve financial independence by becoming sales agents.
Beyond her entrepreneurial success, Walker was a prominent activist and philanthropist. She supported numerous charitable causes, including scholarships for African American students, donations to the NAACP, and funding for the construction of the Indianapolis YMCA.
Madam C.J. Walker's legacy extends far beyond her business achievements. She shattered racial and gender barriers, becoming the first self-made female millionaire in the United States.
Join us on February 11th as we honor Mae Jemison during our Sunday Celebration announcements!
Mae Jemison (1956) is a physician and engineer. During her time as a mission specialist with NASA, she became the first African American woman to travel into space in 1992 while aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Her aspirations to study science and to one day visit space, developed as young as 6 years old when her only tangible inspiration was a fictional African American female Lieutenant on the show Star Trek. Although her parents were very supportive of her dreams, Mae recalls the frustration with not receiving that same support from her teachers who assumed that Mae actually wanted to be a nurse because there were very few female astronauts.
Jemison is celebrated for her perseverance with pursuing higher education, starting at 16, at Stanford University (BA, BS) and later Cornell University (MD). Often a minority in her classes, she faced discrimination. Through the difficulties, she rose to lead the Black Students Union while at Stanford. In 1983, she joined the staff of the Peace Corps in a medical leadership role that took her aboard to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Once she returned to the United States in 1985, Mae Jemison finally applied to NASAs astronaut program. Jemison is a shining display of following a dream, despite any limitations, discrimination or even having any tangible examples. Her faith and dedication continue to inspire those with a dream and is staple in history.
Mildred Cotton Council
Join us on February 11th as we honor Mildred Cotton Council during our Sunday Celebration announcements!
Mildred Council (1929 - 2018) fondly known as Mama Dip was an African American renowned chef, restaurateur and author from Chatham County, North Carolina most known for her delicious southern cuisine. Her restaurant, Mama Dips Kitchen, became a popular local eatery and a home away from home especially for the students of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her cookbook, Mama Dips Kitchen, was ranked by Southern Living magazine as one of the top 100 cookbooks of all time. Two of her most cherished memories was being invited to the White House by President George W Bush and also exchanging communications with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
As the granddaughter of enslaved grandparents, one of Mildre's most defining moments was being able to start her career using less than $70 that she had made while serving as a maid and cook in Chapel Hill, NC. $40 was used to purchase food and $24 was left on hand to use as change. Council once stated, "I just opened the door and the crowd just came". Famous customers included Venus Williams, Michael Jordan, Dean Smith, just to name a few. As a pioneer in her community, Mildred became known as being passionate about helping underprivileged children. Often donating money and holding fundraisers to assist kids that couldn't afford to attend camps or their school supplies. Mildred Council leaves behind inspiration for those with a humble beginning as example of how to make something from nothing. Her grandchildren are carrying on her legacy by maintaining the values she lived, opening their own restaurants and businesses regardless of their starts. We celebrate Mama Dip!
Ida B. Wells
Join us on February 4th as we honor Ida B. Wells during our Sunday Celebration announcements!
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was an influential African American investigative journalist, suffragist, and civil rights activist. Born into slavery on July 16, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Wells became an orphan at the age of 16, following the death of her parents due to a yellow fever epidemic. Determined to support her siblings, she took on the role of a teacher and eventually moved to Memphis, Tennessee.
Wells is best known for her fearless and groundbreaking investigative journalism that exposed the brutal realities of lynching in the late 19th century. Her writing, particularly in newspapers like the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, brought attention to the atrocities committed against African Americans and challenged the prevailing narrative that often justified these acts.
As a suffragist, Ida B. Wells advocated for women's rights and played a significant role in the women's suffrage movement. She was a co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896, an organization dedicated to addressing issues affecting African American women.
Throughout her life, Wells fought against racial injustice, segregation, and discrimination. She was an early advocate for civil rights and co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Ida B. Wells continued her activism until her death on March 25, 1931, leaving behind a lasting legacy as a trailblazer in the fight for racial and gender equality. Her courage and commitment to justice have inspired generations of activists and continue to be celebrated as an integral part of American history.
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
George Washington Carver
Join us on February 4th as we honor George Washington Carver during our Sunday Celebration announcements!
George Washington Carver (1860s-1943) was an African American scientist, botanist, and inventor who made significant contributions to agricultural science and rural economic development in the United States. Born into slavery in the early 1860s in Diamond, Missouri, Carver overcame numerous challenges to become one of the most prominent and respected figures in the fields of agriculture and education.
Carver's early education was marked by a strong interest in plants and nature. He attended Iowa State Agricultural College, becoming the first African American student at the university. Carver earned a master's degree in agricultural science in 1896 and later joined the faculty.
His work at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he spent most of his career, focused on improving agricultural practices for Southern farmers. Carver developed innovative techniques for crop rotation and soil conservation, promoting the cultivation of alternative crops like peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans to diversify and improve soil fertility.
Carver is perhaps best known for his extensive research on peanuts. He discovered over 300 uses for peanuts and countless applications for sweet potatoes, soybeans, and other crops. His work contributed to the development of new products, including peanut butter, cosmetics, dyes, and medicines.
“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough…when I silently commune with people, they give up their secrets too, if you love them enough.”