Black History Trailblazers

February is a month that is spent differently by many. We have holidays like Valentine’s Day and
Mardi Gras, but this month is mainly about black history. This month is when we celebrate and admire individuals who’ve paved the way for African Americans and bring us to where we are today. We know many influential people like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, but who else is there?

Andrew “Rube” Foster

  • Organized the first African American baseball league called, the Negro National League, in Kansas City, 1920
  • He’s known as the “father of black baseball.”
  • While being in charge of the league, he continued to be the coach and owner of the American Giants.
  • Elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981

Ella Fitzgerald

  • First African American woman to win a Grammy in 1958
  • Won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 30 million albums
  • At the Apollo, she competed in an amateur night and was met with a rowdy crowd. Faced with pressure, she ended up singing when she originally wanted to dance. “Once up there, I felt the acceptance and love from my audience,” Ella said. “I knew I wanted to sing before people the rest of my life.”
  • From that night, her career had taken off with her own band and she eventually went solo.

Garrett A. Morgan:

  • African American inventor, invented the three position traffic signals in 1923
  • He had also invented hair-straightening product, a breathing tool, and a updated sewing machine.
  • Being inspired to learn about machines and how they work, he opened up a repair business and began working on a sewing machine. He also opened a tailoring shop with his wife.
  • Created the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company after experimenting with chemicals on dog fur and himself. He produced a hair straightening cream and began selling it to African Americans, which became widely successful.

John Mercer Langston:

  • First black man to become a lawyer and to be elected to a public office in the U.S.
  • First dean of the law school at Howard University, founded to educate African Americans in law
  • First African American man to represent Virginia in the House of Representatives
  • He sought out and encouraged Civil War African American soldiers and freed slaves after the war  to seek education and helped developed ways using his political skills and devotion.

Shirley Chisholm:

  • First African American women to be elected into the House of Representatives in 1968 representing New York. She introduced more than 40 pieces of legislation along with championed racial and gender equality, the predicament of the poor, and ending the Vietnam War.
  • First women to be a candidate for president for the Democratic party
  • Co-Founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus
  • Co-Founder of the National Political Congress of Black Women

All of black history is life changing. Each first has led us to where we are now. Many young people look up to these many influences. We see more African Americans achieve the impossible and for many generations we have achieved many more firsts and even more recognition.

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