African American History – Black History Month
African Americans form 13% of the American population. February’s Black History Month celebrates the achievements and struggle for equality by great leaders in the African American community. Find out more about African American history below:
Black History Month Facts
- The only female Buffalo Soldier, Cathay Williams, posed as a man under the name of William Cathay in 1866 to enlist in the 38th Serving for 2 years, Cathay managed to get away with it until Dr’s discovered she was a woman. This lead to her discharge.
- Martin Luther King Jr, and Condoleezza Rice both started college at the age of 15. He majored in sociology in Atlanta in the Morehouse College while she studied at the University of Denver in political science.
- In 1884, Ida Wells-Barnett didn’t give in and refused to give over to a white man her railcar seat.
- The Black Panthers were all for change and launched a variety of programs that were beneficial for black communities nationwide. These included drama classes, breakfast for low income children, and free dental care.
- Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University is the first institution which founded higher education for African Americans.
- Black ingenuity helped to create effective plans to escape enslavement. Husband and wife team in 1848 William and Ellen Craft made it to the North then onto England when she dressed like a white man and he dressed as one of her slaves. Henry Brown, a year later mailed himself literally to freedom within a shipping box during a 27 hour trip between Richmond and Philadelphia.
- Expatriates colonized and founded Liberia. It is 1 of 2 sovereign states which started as a colony for marginalized blacks and ex-slaves. Sierra Leone is the second state.
- Jesse Jackson negotiated the release of a black pilot named Lt. Robert O. Goodman Jr who had been shot down and taken hostage in 1983 in Syria.
- Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff won the first ever Best Rap Performance Grammy for The Fresh Prince. The category was barred from TV so they boycotted the awards.
- African American inventors invented the air conditioner, refrigerator, cell phone, lawn mower, and hair brush.
- Matthew Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s brother, won a silver medal in 1936 for the 200 yard dash.
- During 1972, Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman who was elected to Congress. She was also the first black presidential candidate of a major party who survived up to 3 assassination attempts during her campaign.
- Eatonville Florida is the first town to be incorporated by African Americans. Sora Neale Hurston also lived in Eatonville. She was a writer and a cultural anthropologist.
- Paul Robeson in 1948 was considered for the US vice presidential spot on the Progressive Party of Henry A. Wallace.
- Michael Jackson was the highest earning pop star in the world with a win of 8 Grammy awards in 1 year.
- Tice David’s a Kentucky runaway slave swam to freedom across the Ohio River. His owner assumed he drowned but in fact he made it alive and well.
- South Carolina’s Stono Rebellion in 1739 became the largest slave revolt in Colonial America.
- Home of Josiah Henson, Uncle Tom’s Cabin had been an inspiration for the novel. It has since been restored and is now on the National Register of Historic Places in Maryland’s North Bethesda.
- Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on Maya Angelou’s birthday. She stopped celebrating it for many years and instead sent flower to Mrs. K to commemorate the day.
- Satchel Paige at 42 became the oldest Major League Baseball rookie player and continued until the age of 47.
- Robert H Lawrence Jr, in 1967, trained and became the first African American astronaut. Before he could be sent on a space mission, he died in a plane crash during flight training. Guion Bluford, 16 years later carried Lawrence’s legacy and became the first black man in space.
- Langston Hughes’s father discouraged him from starting a career as a writer. His father agreed to only pay for his college education if he chose to study engineering.
- Paul Williams, architect mastered upside down drawing so that he was able to sit across from white clients who didn’t want to sit beside a black man.
- Barack Obama, Americans African American President, won a Grammy in the Best Spoken Word Album category in 2008 for his audio books of The Audacity Of Hope and Dreams From My Father.
- According to a 20/20 survey, DeShawn and Imani are the blackest names that can be given for a baby boy and baby girl.
- Jackie Robinson, after retiring from his baseball career, established Freedom Bank, the African American controlled and owned bank in the USA.
- Thurgood Marshall went into law by being mischievous. For his punishment he was made to write the constitution over and over again. This eventually made him interested in law.
- Athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos made headlines and history when they raised their black gloved fists at the 1968 Olympics on the award stands. They represented black poverty in the USA by wearing no shoes and black socks on the podium.