In Celebration of Black History month, a brief look at the history of African Americans.
Black History Month: The celebration of Black History Month Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall was the first African American ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and served on the court from 1967 to 1991.
Eminent Scientist: George Washington Carver developed 300 derivative products from peanuts among them cheese, milk, coffee, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils and cosmetics.
Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin: Most people think of Rosa Parks as the first person to refuse to give up their seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. There were actually several women who came before her; one of whom was Claudette Colvin. It was March 2, 1955, when the fifteen-year-old schoolgirl refused to move to the back of the bus, nine months before Rosa Parks’ stand that launched the Montgomery bus boycott.
Self-Made Millionaire: Madam C.J. Walker was born on a cotton plantation in Louisiana and became wealthy after inventing a line of African-American hair care products. She established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories and was also known for her philanthropy.
The first licensed African American Female pilot was named Bessie Coleman: Born in Atlanta, Texas in 1892, Bessie Coleman grew up in a world of harsh poverty, discrimination and segregation. She moved to Chicago at 23 to seek her fortune but found little opportunity there as well. Wild tales of flying exploits from returning WWI soldiers first inspired her to explore aviation, but she faced a double stigma in that dream being both African American and a woman.
She set her sights on France in order to reach her dreams and began studying French. In 1920, Coleman crossed the ocean with all of her savings and the financial support of Robert Abbott, one of the first African American millionaires. Over the next seven months, she learned to fly and in June of 1921, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded her an international pilot’s license. Wildly celebrated upon her return to the United States, reporters turned out in droves to greet her.
Oscar Winner: In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award—the film industry’s highest honor—for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone With the Wind.
Into Space: In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. During her eight-day mission, she worked with U.S. and Japanese researchers, and was a co-investigator on a bone cell experiment.