When you think of your favorite child care provider, you probably don’t think of a famous person. So much of our nannies’ and babysitters’ work goes unseen or unrecognized, and most aren’t known on a national scale.

But as we head into Black History Month, we’d like to change that fact. Today, we’re celebrating the prominent Black historical figures who have shaped child care for the better. These folks have made significant contributions in education, child development, music, and more—and their influence has left an indelible mark on the child care industry. Here are a few of our favorites.

Yellow banner with text saying "When your meeting time is during snack time" and showing a caregiver holding a bowl of fruit while a school-age girl enjoys some.Ella Jenkins

Often referred to as the “First Lady of Children’s Music,” Ella Jenkins has used music as a tool to connect with children and promote cultural understanding. Boasting appearances on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, at the Smithsonian Institute, and more, Jenkins is one of the most respected names in children’s music to this day.

Through her engaging songs and interactive performances, Jenkins has had an immense impact on the development of children’s social and emotional skills. Her work highlights the role of creativity and expression in the child care experience.

Alene Mathurin

Alene Mathurin is the founder of My Nanny Circle, a grassroots organization that focuses on training and empowering child caregivers. Mathurin is also the founder and host of The Nanny Ball, an annual event aimed at elevating and celebrating the often under-valued child care profession (an event Sittercity has been a proud sponsor of!). Based on her decades of nannying experience, Mathurin is also the author of A Guide to Developing a Successful Family and Nanny Relationship…Yes, It’s Possible.

Her work has been recognized by The New York Times, The Cut, and others, and she continues to drive the child care conversation forward.

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman speaking to young women

As the founder of Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman has been a tireless advocate for the well-being of children. Children’s Defense Fund envisions a nation committed to equity and justice where children and youth live with dignity, hope, and joy, and Edelman’s efforts have focused on ensuring that every child has access to quality health care, education, and a safe environment. Edelman’s work underscores the vital connection between child care and a child’s overall development.

Frieda Mitchell

As a civil rights activist in South Carolina, Frieda Mitchell was a key voice in the fight to integrate schools in her county. She went on to become one of her district’s first Black school board members, founding an organization that created community child care centers across her state.

Later in her career, she developed the United Communities for Child Development, a program that advocated for the use of state and federal funding to support child care programs. Surrounding states eventually adopted the program, and many regard Mitchell’s efforts as an important step towards universal child care.

Pink banner with text saying "When your logistics hero also tells the best jokes" and showing a babysitter holding a toddler while they both laugh.Dr. Evelyn Moore

As the founder of the National Black Child Development Institute, Dr. Evelyn Moore spent 38 years leading the organization to improve and advance early education for young Black children. Moore is a staunch advocate for universal child care and access to high-quality early childhood education for all children, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. Today, Moore lobbies policymakers to invest in the early childhood workforce, investing not only in their teaching abilities, but their abilities to better understand human and cognitive development.

Geoffrey Canada

headshot of Geoffrey Canada

Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada has been a transformative force in the field of education and child development. His comprehensive approach combines education, social services, and community engagement to support children from early childhood through college. Canada’s work highlights the importance of holistic community-based strategies in ensuring the success and well-being of children.


While child care workers are often unsung heroes, these six individuals have played pivotal roles in shaping a better future for our country’s youth. The legacies of these Black community members are an inspiration for parents and caregivers to prioritize the well-rounded development of children, creating a nurturing environment that fosters growth and education.

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