Once known as the “policy numbers game” in Harlem, playing the numbers was a way of making ends meet as well as a way of meeting other needs in the economically starved community. Playing the numbers, a game where players betted on a series of three digit numbers from 000 to 999, was considered the “poor man’s stock market.”
The numbers man carried the money and betting slips to the policy bank. Some were mathematical geniuses who didn’t need slips; instead, they memorized the numbers.
Today’s Black History Month lesson: From runaway slaves looking for the North Star to their descendants running numbers to make ends meet, STEM is in black folks’ DNA.
I smiled as I read this PBS post, “How Math Got Its Groove Back”:
Carrie Lewis and Kelly Steele’s fifth grade students slide and spin across the classroom floor, doing the hustle, the robot and the running man. While it may look at first glance like goofing off, these students are actually dancing for a higher cause...math.
Lewis, a STEM specialist for Virginia’s Lynchburg city schools, and Steele, who teaches gifted education in Bedford County, Virginia, are both math enthusiasts eager to instill in their students a love of the subject. And dancing, they hoped, might be just the thing to help tackle a common fifth-grade learning deficit -- number patterns.
The “dance by numbers” lesson plan is at the intersection of art and math.
STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) is the sweet spot for the Philly Phresh Start Project, which will be launched in March. We will shake our groove thing as we show underrepresented minorities that STEM is everywhere. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter: @PhillySTEAM.
The video projections feature ten freedom fighters. Robert Purvis recounted his role in fighting a state constitutional amendment that stripped free blacks of the right to vote.
In 1838, Purvis drafted the “Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens Threatened with Disfranchisement”:
Fellow Citizens:—We appeal to you from the decision of the “Reform Convention,” which has stripped us of a right peaceably enjoyed during forty-seven years under the Constitution of this commonwealth. We honor Pennsylvania and her noble institutions too much to part with our birthright, as her free citizens, without a struggle. To all her citizens the right of suffrage is valuable in proportion as she is free; but surely there are none who can so ill afford to spare it as ourselves.
Fast forward to today, the ACLU of Pennsylvania is fighting to overturn the voter ID law that Gov. Tom Corbett signed in March. The voting change makes it harder for hundreds of thousands of citizens to exercise a fundamental right of our democracy.