What’s your B.H.I.Q.?


Black history intelligence quotient

Black History

The Seattle Times

Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson, who early in the last century came up with the idea for a “Negro History Week,” which he envisioned as a celebration of black history and achievement, as well as a time for education.

In 1926, with the support of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the first “Negro History Week” was held during the second week in February. The timing was meant to honor the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Lincoln. Over the years, the event grew in popularity, and in the early 1970s, the association (which later changed its name, replacing the word “Negro” with “Afro-American”) expanded the celebration and renamed it “Black History Month.”

Now, in keeping with Woodson’s idea of focusing on black history and education, we offer this Black History Month quiz:

  1. The founder of the Nation of Islam was:
    • a) Elijah Muhammad.
    • b) Elijah Wood.
    • c) Ralph Ellison.
  2. Thurgood Marshall was:
    • a) A prominent black thinker and architect of the Marshall Plan.
    • b) The first black Supreme Court justice.
    • c) A Harlem Renaissance writer.
  3. Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige played with which famous band leader?
    • a) Benny Goodman.
    • b) Duke Ellington.
    • c) Louis Armstrong.
  4. Which amendment to the Constitution guaranteed black people (and all citizens) equal protection under the law?
    • a) The 15th.
    • b) The 26th.
    • c) The 14th.
  5. Black people, women and people ages 18 to 21 have all been kept from voting at some point in the history of the United States. In what order were these groups given the right to vote?
    • a) Black men, then women, then people 18 to 21.
    • b) People 18 to 21, then black men, then women.
    • c)Women, then black men, then people 18 to 21.
  6. What landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision struck down the idea of “separate but equal” schools for black people and whites?
    • a) Plessy v. Ferguson.
    • b) Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kan.
    • c) University of California v. Bakke.
  7. The incarceration rates for black people in America have long been decried as a reflection of a biased justice system. At the end of 2000, what percentage of all black males in the United States ages 25 to 29 was in prison? (For comparison, the answer is 2.9 percent for all Hispanic males in that age group, and 1.1 percent for all white males.)
    • a) 5.6 percent.
    • b) 9.7 percent.
    • c) 24.3 percent.
  8. The holiday Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when:
    • a) Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, thus freeing slaves.
    • b)Word reached Texas that Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
    • c) Lincoln declared war with the South over the issue of slavery
  9. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the first secretary-general from sub-Saharan Africa, was from what country?
    • a) Ghana.
    • b) South Africa.
    • c) Nigeria.

True or false:

  1. When the United States’ founding fathers wrote “all men are created equal,” they meant black slaves, too.
  2. In the “Tuskegee Experiment,” the United States monitored 399 black men with syphilis for 40 years to see what would happen to them — even though the men were never told they had syphilis and a cure for the disease was discovered decades before the experiment ended.
  3. The holiday Kwanzaa was created by black activist and scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966.
  4. Participants in the Harlem Renaissance included Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Claude McKay.
  5. The historically black college Howard University is located in Atlanta.

Match the following black Americans with their ideas:

  1. “It is not integration that Negroes in America want, it is human dignity.”
  2. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
  3. Encouraged black people to pick themselves up by their “bootstraps” and said: “In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”
  4. Wanted to start a colony of black Americans in Liberia and said: “There shall be no solution to this race problem until you yourselves strike the blow for liberty.”
  5. Wrote “The Souls of Black Folk” and said of Booker T. Washington: “(When) Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambitions of our brighter minds … we must unceasingly and firmly oppose (him).”
  6. Read the poem, “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Clinton’s inauguration: “You, created only a little lower than/ The angels, have crouched too long in/The bruising darkness/ Have lain too long/Face down in ignorance./Your mouths spilling words/Armed for slaughter./And the Rock cries out to us today, you/may stand upon me/But do not hide your face.”
  7. Wrote the poem, “Harlem,” a passage from which reads: “What happens to a dream deferred?/Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun?/Or fester like a sore — /And then run? … Maybe it just sags/like a heavy load./Or does it explode?”
  8. “I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helterskelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world — I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Malcolm X
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Maya Angelou
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Langston Hughes
  • Marcus Garvey



  1. Jesse Owens: Olympic athlete
  2. Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”
  3. Joe Louis: Athlete
  4. Hiram R. Revels: First black U.S. senator
  5. Abraham Lincoln: President when slaves were freed
  6. Marcus Garvey: Back to Africa movement leader
  7. John Brown: Abolitionist
  8. Harriet Tubman: Abolitionist
  9. Booker T. Washington: Educator
  10. Duke Ellington: Musician
  11. Granville T. Woods: Inventor
  12. Henry Highland Garnet: Abolitionist
  13. Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist
  14. Martin Luther King Jr.: Civil rights leader
  15. Thurgood Marshall: Supreme Court justice
  16. Sojourner Truth: Abolitionist
  17. Elijah J. McCoy: Inventor; “The Real McCoy”
  18. Rosa Parks: Civil rights leader
  19. Marian Anderson: Singer
  20. Barbara Jordan: Politician
Multiple Choice Questions

A; 2. B; 3. C; 4. C; 5. A; 6. B; 7. B; 8. B; 9. A.

True or false:
  1. False. When this country was founded, black slaves were not considered equal. In fact, the government counted each slave as only three-fifths of a person.
  2. True. Years after the experiment, modest cash payments were given to survivors and their families. And in 1997, President Clinton issued a formal apology, saying the experiment was “racist” and “profoundly, morally wrong.”
  3. True. Karenga wanted to “give a black alternative to the existing holiday.” At the center of Kwanzaa are its seven principles, which are represented by seven candles: umoja (unity), kujichagulia (selfdetermination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujaama (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith).
  4. True.
  5. False. Howard University is located in Washington, D.C.
Match the following black Americans with their ideas:
  1. Malcolm X.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. Booker T. Washington.
  4. Marcus Garvey.
  5. W.E.B. Du Bois.
  6. Maya Angelou.
  7. Langston Hughes.
  8. Zora Neale Hurston.



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