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Social Studies Biographies
|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grades 7 to 8|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||7.74|
By Trista L. Pollard
1 January 29, 2006, was a special day in American history. It was on that day that actress Hattie McDaniel was honored on a United States postage stamp. She was the first African American actor to win an Academy Award. So who was Hattie McDaniel? Well, her story began in Wichita, Kansas, on June 10, 1895.
2 On that date, McDaniel's father, Henry, and mother, Susan Holbert McDaniel, welcomed their youngest and thirteenth child into their family. Her father was a Baptist preacher, and her mother was a religious music singer. Like other African American families during that time, McDaniel's family had endured slavery. Her grandmother was a household slave cook on a Virginia plantation. Her father, who was born into slavery, worked as a field hand on the same plantation. During the Civil War, Henry McDaniel served as a Union soldier fighting for the North.
3 After McDaniel's birth, her family moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. They only lived there for a short time. Their house at 317 Cherry Street is still standing today. As a teenager, McDaniel went to Denver East High School. Some of her first accomplishments began when she was a teenager. At age 15 in 1910, McDaniel was the only African American to participate in a Women's Christian Temperance Movement program. She won a gold medal for reciting a poem titled "Convict Joe." She had already started singing and dancing, but winning this award convinced McDaniel to become a performer.
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