Black History Jeopardy
February 16, 2021 / By Rev. Holly Strickland and Georgia Whitney, Conference Commission on Religion and Race
Knowledge equals power and understanding! As we move through Black History Month, here’s a fun way to deepen and enrich your knowledge of African American history. You might do this as a team event—or just to increase your familiarity on a variety of African American topics. Think of it as Black History Jeopardy!
1.) Question: Who was the first black woman to travel in space?
Answer:: Dr. Mae Jemison.
More about Dr. Jemison: Dr. Jemison served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, joining NASA’s astronaut corps in 1987. She was selected to serve for the STS-47 mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days in September of 1992. Dr. Jemison earned her medical degree from Cornell University, and was a doctor for the Peace Corps and a general practitioner before applying to NASA. After leaving NASA, she founded a technology research company, and later formed a non-profit educational foundation Dr. Jemison has also written several books for children, and appeared in a 1993 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
2.) Question: Who was the first African American female pilot?
Answer: Bessie Coleman.
More about Ms. Coleman: Bessie Coleman was also the first Native American to hold a pilot license and was the first Black person to earn an international pilot’s license. She developed an early interest in flying, but since African Americans, Native Americans, and women had no flight training opportunities in the United States, she saved and obtained sponsorships to go to France for flight school. She then became a high-profile pilot in notoriously dangerous air shows in the United States. She was popularly known as “Queen Bess” and “Brave Bessie.”
3.) Question: This African American minister and human rights activist was born Malcolm Little, and was known as “Red” and “Detroit Red” before converting to Islam. Who was he?
Answer: Malcolm X
Extra point Question: After embracing Sunni Islam and completing the Hajj to Mecca, what new name did Malcolm X adopt?
Answer: El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.
4.) Question: What was Muhammad Ali’s birth name?
Answer: Cassius Clay
Extra point Question: What was Cassius Clay’s middle name?
Another Extra point Question: What was Ali’s nickname?
Answer: “The Greatest of All Time,” or GOAT. It was shortened to “The Greatest.”
More about Muhammad Ali: Ali is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century and as one of the greatest boxers of all time. At 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics and turned professional later that year. He won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in a major upset in 1964, at age 22. Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation, and he was a high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement and throughout his career.
5.) Question: This political activist, philosopher, academic, and author has focused on the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. Who is she?
Answer:: Dr. Angela Davis
More about Dr. Davis: After studying in Europe for several years, Dr. Davis returned to the United States and became involved in the second-wave feminist movement and the campaign against the Vietnam War. Through her activism and scholarship over many decades, Dr. Davis has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world. Her work as an educator—both at the university level and in the larger public sphere—has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice.
6.) Question: This African American woman is recorded as the first black self-made millionaire in the U.S. Who is she?
Answer: Madam C. J. Walker
More about Madam C. J. Walker: Ms. Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of cosmetics and hair care products for black women through the business she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She became known also for her philanthropy and activism. She made financial donations to numerous organizations and became a patron of the arts. Villa Lewaro, Walker’s lavish estate in Irvington, New York, served as a social gathering place for the African-American community.
7.) Question: This American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, womanist, and civil rights activist founded the National Council for Negro Women in 1935, and was appointed as a national adviser to president Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom she worked with to create the Federal Council on Negro Affairs. Who was she?
Answer: Mary McCloud Bethune
More about Mary McCloud Bethune: Bethune is well known for starting a private school for African American students in Daytona Beach, Florida; it later continued to develop as Bethune-Cookman University. Bethune was the sole African American woman to be a part of the U.S. delegation that created the United Nations charter, and held a leadership position for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She was known as “The First Lady of The Struggle” because of her commitment to gain better lives for African Americans.
8.) Question: This African American blues singer was widely renowned during the Jazz Age, and was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s and popularized “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Who was she?
Answer: Bessie Smith
More about Bessie Smith: Nicknamed the “Empress of the Blues,” she is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era, and was a major influence on fellow blues singers, as well as jazz vocalists. Smith’s parents died when she was young, and she and her siblings survived by performing on street corners. She went on to tour and had a successful recording career.
9.) Question: This American labor unionist, civil rights activist, and socialist politician organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African American labor union. Who was he?
Answer: A. Philip Randolph.
More about A. Philip Randolph: In the early Civil Rights Movement and the Labor Movement, Randolph was a voice that would not be silenced. His continuous agitation, with the support of fellow labor rights activists against unfair labor practices in relation to People of Color, eventually led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue an executive order 1941, banning discrimination in the defense industries during World War II. The group then successfully pressured President Harry S. Truman to issue another executive order, ending segregation in the armed services. In 1963, Randolph was the head of the March on Washington.
10.) Question: Because of a period of relative isolation from whites while working on large plantations in rural areas of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, these Africans, enslaved from a variety of Central and West African ethnic groups, developed a Creole culture that has preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage from various peoples. Who were they?
Answer: The Gullah people.
More about the Gullah people: The Gullah speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and influenced by African languages in grammar and sentence structure. Sometimes referred to as “Sea Island Creole” by linguists and scholars, the Gullah language is oftentimes likened to a number of Caribbean Creole languages and the Krio language of West Africa. Gullah crafts, farming and fishing traditions, folk beliefs, music, and story-telling traditions all exhibit strong influences from Central and West African cultures. Their rice-based cuisine is famous for its shrimp and grits dish.
11.) Question: During antebellum America, where did slaves gather in secret to practice their religious traditions?
Answer: They gathered in Hush Harbors.
More about Hush Harbors: Religion was a highly respected part of slave life, offering the enslaved hope and reassurance. Slaves were forced to organize and conduct these meetings in secret because owners feared slaves assembling without supervision. The meetings were held after dark, once field and house chores were completed, and went on late into the night. Christianity was slaves’ prominent religion after being transported to the Americas. Slaves discovered promising stories and passages in the Bible that offered hope. The story of Jesus Christ’s suffering on the cross drew attention because of the similar, harsh treatment slaves received. In the hush harbors, slaves could combine their African religious traditions with Christianity, free to blend the components of each religion in these meetings. The slaves could let go of all their hardships and express their emotions. African American spirituals originated in hush harbors. The songs created by slaves contained a double meaning, revealing the ideas of both religious salvation and freedom from slavery. The meetings included such as dance, shouts, and rhythms.
12.) Question: The 1920s and 1930s ushered in a period of intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater, and politics centered in Harlem, in New York City. What was it called?
Answer: The Harlem Renaissance
More about the Harlem Renaissance: The movement also included new African American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by a renewed militancy in the general struggle for civil rights for African-Americans that occurred in the wake of civil rights struggles in the then-still-segregated US Armed Forces.
The Harlem Renaissance was further inspired by the NAACP, the Garveyite movement, and the Russian Revolution, combined with the Great Migration of African American workers fleeing the racist conditions of the Jim Crow Deep South. Harlem was the final destination of the largest number of those who migrated north. Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood, many francophone black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the movement.
13.) Question: What nickname has been given to African American U.S. Army personnel?
Answer: Buffalo Soldiers
More about Buffalo Soldiers: Originally Buffalo Soldiers were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed in 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the Black Cavalry by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars. The term eventually became synonymous with all African American regiments formed in 1866.
14.) Question: This lawyer and civil rights activist was the first African American justice to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Who was he?
Answer:: Thurgood Marshall
More about Thurgood Marshall: Marshall established a private legal practice before founding the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where he served as executive director. In that position, he argued several cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education, which held that racial segregation in public education is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
15.) Question: This agricultural scientist and inventor promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion and was the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century. Who was he?
Answer: George Washington Carver
More about George Washington Carver: Carver wanted poor farmers to grow other crops, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes, as a source of their own food and to improve their quality of life. The most popular of his 44 practical bulletins for farmers contained 105 food recipes using peanuts. Carver was also a leader in promoting environmentalism.
16.) Question: This female abolitionist and political activist escaped slavery and made some 19 missions to rescue about 300 enslaved people, including family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Who was she?
Answer: Harriet Tubman
More about Harriet Tubman: As a child, after suffering a traumatic head wound, Tubman began experiencing strange visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God. During the American Civil War, while serving as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army, she helped rescue over 700 slaves from plantations along the Combahee River in South Carolina. In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the women’s suffrage movement.
17.) Question: This 2016 movie starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe is the true story of African American female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. What’s the name of this movie?
Answer: Hidden Figures
More about Hidden Figures: Of particular note in this film is the story of Katherine Johnson, who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. Her hand calculations successfully launched John Glenn into orbit in 1962. Hidden Figures gathered various awards and nominations following its release. The film received three nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress at the 89th Academy Awards. The film earned four awards at the African American Film Critics Association.
18.) Question: This 2018 American superhero film starring the late Chadwick Boseman is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. What is it?
Answer: Black Panther
More about Black Panther: Black Panther is the first Marvel film with both a predominantly black cast and a black director. It grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide and broke numerous box office records, becoming the ninth highest grossing film of all time, the third-highest-grossing film in the U.S. and Canada, and the second-highest-grossing film of 2018. The film received numerous awards and nominations, with seven Academy Awards nominations, and winning for Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design.
19.) Question: Why are Mystic, Connecticut; Nantucket, Massachusetts; and Long Island, New York important African American history?
Answer: African American sailors, desperate to escape slavery during the 1800s, became whalers and sailed from these ports.
More about these sailors: The whaling industry provided great opportunities for free black seaman and runaway slaves, many of whom could not find jobs elsewhere. During the “golden age” of whaling in the early 19th century, African Americans comprised one-quarter of the crews; after the Civil War, their ranks swelled to half of all whalers.
20.) Question: This prominent author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations of the twentieth century. He’s perhaps best known for writing Jesus and the Disinherited. Who was he?
Answer: Howard Thurman
More about Howard Thurman: Thurman’s theology of radical nonviolence influenced and shaped a generation of civil rights activists, and he was a key mentor to leaders within the Civil Rights Movement, including Martin Luther King Jr. In 1944, he co-founded, along with Alfred Fisk, the first major interracial, interdenominational church in the United States, The Fellowship of All Peoples, in San Francisco.