Head Start Celebrates Black History Month

Featuring the Head Start Advocates and Alumni Making History

National Head Start Association
4 min readMar 2, 2020

While Black History Month may have come to a close this weekend, we celebrate the strong relationship between Head Start and African American leaders, professionals, Head Start alumni, and advocates across the United States all year long.

Head Start has been partnering with children and families for 55 years, and has grown into the leading model of early education we know today due in no small part to the incredible efforts of African American teachers, alumni, advocates, and congressional allies. Throughout Black History Month, and in the months and years before and beyond, NHSA has highlighted some of the African Americans who play a tremendous role in the Head Start story.

Here are the highlights:

The Honorable Congressman Elijah Cummings

Congressman Elijah Cummings sadly passed away last year, and is already greatly missed by the Head Start community. He was a tireless Head Start advocate in Congress from the day he first set foot on Capitol Hill in 1996. He was a friend to Head Start at the community level, visiting programs in Baltimore to meet the children and staff. And he was an advocate at the national level, using his chairmanship of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Oversight and Reform Committee to address Head Start’s needs and encourage his colleagues to support the program.

Children’s Rights Attorney Victor M. Jones

Victor M. Jones is raising his two young daughters in New Orleans, Louisiana. He works as an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center where he leads the Louisiana Children’s Rights Practice Group. And 30 years ago, he graduated from Head Start. Victor has built a career around his dedication to fighting for children, a passion he credits to his early education in Head Start.

Head Start Center Director Crystal Banks

Early in Head Start’s history in the summer of 1968, a young Crystal Banks participated in Head Start in Phenix City, Alabama. But that was only the beginning of Crystal’s Head Start journey. Today, Crystal has been working with Head Start for over 25 years, and is a leader in the program, serving as a center director with Sheltering Arms Head Start in Georgia.

Accomplished Author and Harvard Professor Anthony Abraham Jack

Dr. Anthony Abraham Jack teaches as an Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is touring the country to promote his new book, The Privileged Poor, and has written a feature story that was published in the New York Times Magazine. Dr. Jack has been on an incredible journey that began in a low-income household in Miami, and he shares how his experiences as a child in Head Start changed the trajectory of his remarkable path in life.

Company Founder and CEO Cicely Simpson

Cicely Simpson is the founder and CEO of Summit Public Affairs in Washington DC, a long way from her humble beginnings in the small town of Woodbury, Tennessee. When Cicely shares her journey from small-town roots to law school, from congressional offices to a lobbying career that led to managing public affairs for a national trade association, and most recently to starting her own company, people often wonder how she made the climb. Cicely credits her Head Start experience as the foundation that made it all possible.

Superintendent and Education Advocate Tyrone Olverson

Tyrone Olverson has built an impressive career in the world of public education. His professional journey has taken him down a winding path from middle school social studies teacher, to the principal of his own elementary school, and up through many high-level administrative roles in Ohio’s schools. All the while he has brought with him the belief that every child should have the opportunity to succeed and the drive to make it so. Olverson shares that his early days at Head Start set the foundation for those values, for his career, and for his desire to leave a legacy in education.



National Head Start Association

NHSA is a nonprofit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in life.