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Barack Obama, in 2009, became the first African American to serve as President of the United States. However, two others had run for the presidency before Barack Obama (Shirley Chisholm in 1972 and Jessie Jackson in 1984).
Jessie Jackson: http://www.biography.com/people/jesse-jackson-9351181
Shirley Chisholm: http://www.biography.com/people/shirley-chisholm-9247015
General Colin Powell, in 2001, became the first African American to serve as Secretary of State.
Dr. Joycelyn Elders, in 1993, became the first African American to serve as Surgeon General of the U.S.
Gabby Douglas – At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Gabby Douglas made history when she became the first African-American to win the all-around Olympic gold in gymnastics. She became the fourth U.S. gymnast to capture the all-around title. She is also the only American gymnast to win gold in the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic Games.
Dr. James McCune was the first African American to earn a medical degree and the first African American to operate a pharmacy in the United States.
Mary Winston-Jackson, born in 1921, worked at NASA as an aeronautical engineer. Prior to serving as an engineer, she was called a "computer." NASA hired people to serve as human computers. Their work was to compute numbers and math equations by hand. Mary Winston-Jackson's life was highlighted in the movie "Hidden Figures."
Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin.
Most people are familiar with Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott. However, most people have never heard of Claudette Colvin. On March 2, 1955, Claudette, a fifteen-year-old student refused to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus. Claudette's refusal to give up her seat happened 9 months before Rosa Parks decided not to give up her seat. To learn more visit pbs.com or biography.com.
Considered Harlem's most famous poet, Langston Hughes was born in 1902. Born in Missouri, Hughes moved to New York to be part of the energy and excitement of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes most famous poem is "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."
Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast, winning 19 Olympic and World Championship medals.
Born in Ohio in 1997, Simone Biles has become one of America's top gymnasts. She led the U.S.Olympic women's gymnasticsteam, nicknamed "The Final Five," to a team gold medal at the 2016 Summer Games.
Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was born in Washington, D.C. in 1899. He is credited with creating one of the most distinct ensemble sounds in music. During the 1930's he performed at the famous Cotton Club in New York. During his career, Ellington composed thousands of songs and won 13 Grammy Awards.
Ethel Waters (1896-1977) was a leading entertainer in Harlem during the 1920's. Known as Sweet Mama String bean, she performed and sang the blues. In 1927, she began a successful career on the Broadway stage She is most famous for her work in the 1940 musical drama "Cabin in the Sky."
Jimi Hendrix, known as possibly the greatest American guitarist, created a new way to play the electric guitar, influencing future guitarists.
Alice Walker, born in February 1944, is the first African American women to win a Pulitzer Prize. She is most famous for authoring the novel "The Color Purple." Walker won her Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for fiction. The movie "The Color Purple" receive 11 Academy Award nominations.
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) is considered by many to be one of the great writers of twentieth-century African American literature. Ms. Hurston was closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance and influenced such writers as Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. Some of her most famous work include "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (1937) and "Mules and Men" (1935).
Mary Mahoney, born in the spring of (April or May) 1845, became the first African American women to complete nurse's training. She graduated from the nursing school of the New England Hospital for Women and Children in 1879. She also served as a member of the American Nurses Association. She was later inducted into the Nursing Hall of Fame and the National Women's Hall of Fame.
James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)
James Weldon Johnson is most famous for writing the lyrics to "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Lift Every Voice and Sing is considered the Black National Anthem and is sung at the start of many African American events, conferences and banquets.
Mae Carol Jemison is an American physician and NASA astronaut. After obtaining her medical degree and working as a doctor, she became the first African-American woman admitted into the astronaut-training program. She later became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. Visit www.biography.com and National Geographic for more information. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/science/black-inventors-and-pioneers-of-science/#black-scientist-jemison.jpg; http://www.drmae.com
Video - http://www.biography.com/people/mae-c-jemison-9542378
John M. Shippen, Jr. – Most of us are familiar with Eldrick "Tiger" Woods and have watched the news and/or read about his accomplishments. However, few are familiar with John M. Shippen, Jr. who played in the second U.S. Open in 1896 finishing fifth overall. Visitthe two links below for more information.
Serena Williams – In 1995, Serena became a pro tennis player. In 1999, she won her first tennis U.S. Open title. In 2002, she won the French Open, the U.S. Open, and Wimbledon by defeating her sister Venus Williams. At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, she won two gold medals, in women's doubles and women's singles.
Otis Boykin was born on August 29, 1920, in Dallas, Texas. After high school, he attended and graduated from Fisk University in 1941. After college, he worked for a radio and television company and began invention products. Mr. Boykin's most notable invention is a control unit for pacemakers. A pacemaker is a small device that is placed under the skin near the heart to help control your heartbeat. For more information visit www.biography.com and www.black-inventor.com http://www.biography.com/people/otis-boykin-538792
The Kentucky Derby's Forgotten Jockeys
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, African American jockeys once dominated the world of horse track racing. By 1921, they had disappeared from the Kentucky Derby. In 1875, African Americans made up 13 of the first 15 jockeys and won 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derby races.
To learn more visit the links below:
Madame C.J. Walker
Mrs. Walker invented a line of African-American hair care products in 1905. She promoted her products by traveling the country and providing demonstrations. With the success of her products, she established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories to manufacture cosmetics and train sales beauticians. Her business skills led her to become the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. (Visit www.biography.com for more information)
Jan Matzeliger was an American inventor. Prior to 1883, shoes were lasted together by hand (connecting the leather to the bottom of the shoe). In March 1883, the United States Patent Office issued a patent to Jan Matzeliger, African American inventor, for his "Lasting Machine." Within two years, Matzeliger had perfected the machine to the point that it could produce up to 700 pairs of shoes each day (as compared to 50 per day for a Hand Laster.) Mr. Matzeliger's invention would change the shoe industry forever. (Visit www.biography.com for more information)
Richard Wright is an author of the classic texts Black Boy and Native Son. He worked with the Federal Writers Project during the 1930s and reached critical acclaim shortly after.
Shirley Chisholm was the first noted African American to run for President of the United States, paving the way for Jessie Jackson, who ran for the presidency in the late 80's, and for President Barack Obama. In 1968, Ms. Chisholm became the first African American woman to serve in congress. She served in congress from 1968-1983 and ran for President of the U.S. in 1972. (Visit www.biography.com for more information)
Black History Month was created by Carter G. Woodson, PhD, in February 1926. Originally called Negro History Week, Woodson created the concept so that students would have the opportunity to learn about Black History Woodson chose the second week in February in celebration of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. Negro History Week, now known as Black History Month, was an opportunity to inform students in schools and the community at large about the Harlem Renaissance and the many contributions of African Americans to the United States.