Dive Into Diversity

The Cool Spring PTA is joining forces with other Hanover County PTAs this year to celebrate Heritages and Cultures from around the world! Each month we will focus on a new heritage — learning about its culture and also showcasing the careers of people from that heritage and the path they took to get there.

Taking place in February,  Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.  In 1926 noted historian Carter G. Woodson designated the second week of February as “Negro History Week.” Mr. Woodson chose this week as it included President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and Frederick Douglass’ birthday (February 20).  Over the decades the week grew in popularity and Mayors across the U.S. endorsed it as a holiday.    In 1970 Black students and educators at Kent State University (in Ohio) started celebrating Black History Month. Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers.  President Gerald Ford officially recognized a whole month of Black history in 1976. Black History Month is a celebration of Black people and their contributions to education, science, literature and entertainment. Many of the every day things we watch, eat and drink were made by contributions of Black people. Now, Black history month is celebrated not only in the United States, but also in Canada(1995, February), United Kingdom (1987, October), Ireland (2010, October), and recognized in the Netherlands.

There are many notable Black people throughout history, but here are some from right here in the Richmond Area!

Maggie L. Walker – First woman bank president in America and advocate for Black women’s rights

Douglas Wilder – First elected Black governor in U. S. history.

Arthur Ashe – Professional Tennis Player, Wimbledon champion (1975) and Medal of Freedom Award winner.

Russell Wilson – American football player with the Seattle Seahawks and a Super Bowl Champion.

Suggested readings for this month:

Learn more about Rosa Parks, “The Mother of the Modern-day Civil Rights Movement,” and her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott:  http://teacher.scholastic.com/rosa/index.htm 

In November 1960, Ruby Bridges became the first African American child to integrate an all-white elementary school. Read about Ruby:  https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/ruby-bridges 

Read about George Washington Carver, Alexander Miles and other famous African American inventors:  http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/inventors/index.htm

Barack Obama, 44th President and the first African American President of the United States:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/barack-obama/

Kamala Harris the first African American and first woman Vice President:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/vice-president-harris/ 

Learn more about Black History Month and ways to celebrate it here.


Each November we celebrate Native American Heritage Month. There are currently 562 Native American tribes in the United States and more than 3 million people are Native American. During this month we celebrate the important traditions and contributions Natives Americans have made in creating our nation. From Sacagawea helping Louis and Clark discover new lands, to helping America win its independence from the British, Native Americans and their history are woven into the fabric of our nation. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a resolution to designate November as National American Indian Heritage Month. There are many ways to honor the culture and achievements Native Americans have made throughout the centuries, including making an American Indian recipe, or reading a book about Native American History and historical figures. Some notable Native Americans include Olympian Jim Thorpe, Chief Sitting Bull, and Powhatan.   Be sure to take time to honor the many cultures, dating back thousands of years, of the original inhabitants of the land and learn the history and the continuing culture of America’s indigenous peoples. History, heritage, or culture of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians are part of every community across the country today.

Please watch this message from our neighbor,  fellow Hanover resident and member of the local Rappahannock Tribe, Keir Burton. 



President Ronald Reagan issued the first proclamation in October of 1987 promoting German American Heritage Month. 

America has a long history with Germany, with families from Germany coming and settling here as early as the 1690s.  There are many German influences in our language and culture. Did you know the word kindergarten means child garden in German?  Christmas and Easter traditions, such as Christmas trees and Easter Egg hunts, are influenced by practices of early German arrivals. German culture has also brought brats, bagels and wursts, which we still enjoy today! We celebrate the culture, with festivals like Oktoberfest, and join almost 44 million Americans who celebrate their German Heritage.  Learn more about the German culture from our friend Theo Wiggins, a fellow Richmond area resident who currently works in Germany as a cyber security specialist.   Martina also shares what it was like to grow up in Germany.   

Please also take this opportunity to learn more about our friend Martina who began her career in Germany and currently works as a Library Assistant for Chesterfield County Public Schools.  Martina tells us about growing up Germany and shares her career path.

Susanne, born and raised in Germany, moved to the United States in 2005.  She shares with us more on the German education system and her path towards becoming an Accountant.  

Here are some notable German-Americans:

Carrie Marcus Neiman: Born to Jewish-German parents on May 3, 1883 in Kentucky. She moved to Dallas when she was just 16 years old with her siblings. She worked at a department store and married a few years later. With her husband, Al Neiman, and her brother, they opened Neiman Marcus to bring fashion to Texas. The department store is still in business today!

Milton Hershey: Born to Swiss-German parents on September 13, 1857 in Pennsylvania. At his mother and aunts insistence, he started his journey to learn candy making (and aren’t we all happy about that!). He started the Lancaster Caramel Company and was awarded great success. Enough that he sold the company and started the Hershey Chocolate Company. Fun fact: Hershey and his wife were due to set sail on the Titanic, but cancelled their reservations at the last minute, instead taking a German luxury liner!



This month we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month!  We invite you to watch the posted videos to learn more about the Hispanic Culture.  During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the countless contributions of more than 60 million Hispanic Americans to our culture and society.  Hispanic Americans are the largest minority group in the United States today, and generations of Hispanic Americans have consistently helped make our country strong and prosperous.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage video

Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to American society and culture. The observance was born in 1968 when Congress authorized the president to issue an annual proclamation designating National Hispanic Heritage Week. Just two decades later, lawmakers expanded it to a month long celebration, stretching from September 15 to October 15.

The timing is key. Hispanic Heritage Month — like its shorter precursor — always starts on September 15, a historically significant day that marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The designated period is also a nod to those from Mexico and Chile, which celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

Sonia Sotomayor made history on August 6, 2009, when the U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed by President Barack Obama, Sotomayor became the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.  Read more about Justice Sotomayor here. 

César Chávez was an American labor leader, community organizer, businessman, and Latino American civil rights activist.  Read more about the important work Chávez did here.