Black History Month: February 2023

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.



Rapper, actress, entrepreneur, and film star Queen Latifah (whose real name is Dana Elaine Owens) owes her phenomenal success to hip-hop. In the late 1980s, Latifah emerged as one of the first female rappers, spitting out hits like "Ladies First" and "U.N.I.T.Y." Later, she started her own record label, broke into acting, and hosted her own talk show. Highlights of her acting career include a long run on the sitcom Living Single and scene-stealing film appearances in Jungle Fever, Set It Off, Living Out Loud, Bringing Down The House, Beauty Shop, and Girls Trip.  Latifah received acting's highest honor when her performance in the 2002 film Chicago earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. She has earned her a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award nomination and an Academy Award nomination. Queen Latifah received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. As of 2023, Queen Latifah is reportedly worth $70 million.


She was born March 18, 1970 in East Orange, New Jersey
She is 5'10" tall.
Her 1993 set Black Reign was the first album by a female rapper to go gold.
A Muslim cousin gave her the nickname Latifah
Starred in her high school's production of The Wiz
Worked at Burger King before launching musical career
Her first group was Ladies Fresh
Was a member of the Native Tongues collective which also included De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers, and Black Sheep
Father and older brother were both cops
Was arrested for carrying a loaded weapon and possessing marijuana in February 1996
Was carjacked in Harlem in 1995. Her friend was shot but survived the shooting.
Older brother Lance died in a motorcycle accident while riding a motorcycle Latifah brought him as a present.
Co-CEO of Flavor Unit Entertainment
Had to coach her Bringing Down The House co-stars Steve Martin and Eugene Levy in hip-hop slang.
First female rapper to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Ranked #72 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll
Earned approximately $325,000 for her role in Chicago
Earned approximately $1 million for Bringing Down The House
According to Forbes, Queen Latifah is worth $70 million.


Queen Latifah On being nominated for an Oscar: ["I was, like, drowsy as heck when I came in the house, and just got under my covers when the phone rang and it was my partner, Sha-kim, like, 'Yo, we got the nomination!' And I'm, like, 'What nomination?!' And he's, like, 'The Oscar nomination!' And I'm, like, 'No way! No way!' So it was pretty exhilarating, y'know — it was like I was pleasingly shocked."]

Queen Latifah accepts Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 BET Awards: ["I wanna thank God because God designed this whole thing to be this way. . . . My family, I love you, my siblings . . . I wanna thank BET for creating an outlet for beautiful blackness to thrive, to shine . . . My partner Shakim . . . Shakim I thank you for keeping your promise to my mother to always protect me . . . Ebony, my love. Rebel, peace. Happy pride!"] SOUNDCUE (1:28 OC . . Happy pride . . . applause)

Queen Latifah on the way black people are stereotyped in films: ["My problem is that when I go around the world, I see too many of the same version of African-Americans, or black people in general. We're not quick to fight all the time, we don't all sell drugs — there are different kinds of black people and I think it's important that you see that. There are different kinds of white people and I think it's important that you see that — Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans…"] SOUNDCUE (:18 OC: . . . Americans, Native Americans..)

Queen Latifah on going after dreams and possibilities: ["I think it's a good thing to do because, you know, as long as you're alive, there are possibilities and there are so many things that we would like to do and we get caught up in everyday life or the same old rigmarole, doing things you know, the way they've always been done. That's no fun. We gotta dream a little and try and go for it."] SOUNDCUE (:18 OC: . . . go for it.)


Who founded Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, one of the leading African-American educational institutions in America, in 1881:

A) Booker T. Washington
B) George Washington Carver
C) Frederick Douglass

The answer is B) Booker T. Washington
Washington's establishment of Tuskegee was part of his efforts to stress to the importance of economic independent for African-Americans. A talented public speaker, he lectured at home and abroad on the subject. Carver, an agricultural chemist, joined the staff of Tuskegee Institute in 1896. The school is presently known as Tuskegee University and is a National Historic Site.


When William Grant Still mounted the podium and began conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1936, it marked the first time that an African-American had led a major symphonic orchestra. Raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Still began studying medicine, but gave it up to pursue his first true love, a career in music. He didn't just become a conductor, he composed as well. His symphonies, operas and ballets have been performed in many parts of the world. His most popular work is the ballet Lenox Avenue, which depicted life in Harlem. In the U.S. today, there are 180,000 musicians and composers, 15 percent of them African-American.
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)