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Black History Month: Study Abroad

In celebration of Black History Month, the Global Education Office is highlighting and saluting some of the prominent Black Americans who have studied abroad. We will post a new name and bio each week in February 2021. Learn more below about the power of study abroad:

  • February 1: Amanda Gorman - A U.S. Poet Laureate Travels to Spain
  • February 8: Chadwick Boseman - Faculty Mentors and Donors Creating Opportunity
  • February 15: Alice Walker - Better Understanding One's Identity
  • February 22: Elijah McCoy - Educational Opportunities not Available at Home

Elijah McCoy - Scotland

This Canadian-American inventor held 57 United States patents, mostly related to the railway. His inventions were so associated with quality and good function that people began using “the real McCoy” to refer to quality products. Like many other black inventors, McCoy faced racism and exclusion in his work, but his lengthy career was a successful one. McCoy was born in 1843 to George and Emilia McCoy, former slaves from Kentucky who had escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad. After living in Ontario for several years, the family moved to Detroit following the Civil War. Elijah was educated in the city and in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Source: Smithsonian Magazine)

Alice Walker - Uganda & Kenya

Walker is a novelist, feminist, womanist, short story writer, and poet most famous for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple. Walker won a scholarship while at Sarah Lawrence College to study abroad in Uganda, and during her time there she also visited Kenya. In her time there, she debunked popular American myths about Africa, which she explores in her works like “Everyday Use.” She also became a prominent voice in the Black feminist movement. In her short story “Coming Apart,” she coined the term “womanist” to connect feminism more deeply to the intersectional issues facing Black women. (Source: AFS-USA)

Chadwick Boseman - Oxford & Ghana

Chadwick Boseman was an accomplished actor and playwright. One of his teachers and mentors at Howard University was Phylicia Rashad, who helped raise funds, notably from her friend and prominent actor Denzel Washington, so that Boseman could attend the Oxford Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy at Balliol College, Oxford, in England. He also traveled to Africa for the first time while in college, working in Ghana with his professor Mike Malone "to preserve and celebrate rituals with performances on a proscenium stage"; he said it was "one of the most significant learning experiences of [his] life". (Source: Wikipedia)

Amanda Gorman - IES Abroad Madrid

Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, as well as an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. She has written for the New York Times and has three books forthcoming with Penguin Random House. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate.

Where Will You Study Abroad?