Born into slavery in the late 1830’s, Smalls would later free himself from bondage by commandeering a Confederate ship he worked on in 1862. In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed freeing all slaves from bondage. Smalls would return to his hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina where he won a spot in the US House of Representatives during the era of Reconstruction.
Robert Smalls - Runaway Slave, House of RepresentativenessLearn More
Born in 1945 in the very tough Liberty City section of Miami, Brown would go on to overcome learning disorders to become a prominent motivational speaker. Brown currently tours the world with messages of motivation, health and finance. Brown has made America’s top 10 influencers list the past 10 years.
Les Brown - Motivational SpeakerLearn More
Born in Galveston, TX in 1878, Johnson would become America’s first world heavyweight boxing champion. Johnson overcame poverty as well as the Jim Crow south to become champ.
Jack Johnson - 1st Blk Heavy Weight ChampLearn More
Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) was an early American civil aviator. She was the first woman of African-American descent, and also the first of Native-American descent, to hold a pilot license.
Bessie Coleman - Female PilotLearn More
Charles Hamilton Houston (September 3, 1895 – April 22, 1950) was a prominent African-American lawyer, Dean of Howard University Law School, and NAACP first special counsel, or Litigation Director. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, Houston played a significant role in dismantling Jim Crow laws, especially attacking segregation in schools and racial housing covenants.
Charles Hamilton Houston - Lawyer, Dean, NAACPLearn More
Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald, naturalized French Joséphine Baker; 3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an American-born French entertainer, French Resistance agent, and civil rights activist.
Josephine Baker - Singer, Songwriter of the Harlem RenaissanceLearn More
Rising star Misty Copeland makes history as the first African American Female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. When she discovered ballet, however, Misty was living in a shabby motel room, struggling with her five siblings for a place to sleep on the floor.
Misty Copeland - BallerinaLearn More
Mae C. Jemison is an American astronaut and physician who, on June 4, 1987, became the first African American woman to be admitted into NASA’s astronaut training.
Mae C Jemison, AstronautLearn More
Robert Sengstacke Abbott (November 24, 1870 – February 29, 1940) was an American lawyer, newspaper publisher and editor. Abbott founded The Chicago Defender in 1905, which grew to have the highest circulation of any black-owned newspaper in the country. An early adherent of the Baháʼí religion in the United States, Abbott founded the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnicin August 1929. The parade, which has developed into a celebration for youth, education and African–American life in Chicago, Illinois
Robert Abbott - Founder of the Chicago DefenderLearn More
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent. Basquiat first achieved fame as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s, where rap, punk, and street art coalesced into early hip-hop music culture.
Jean-Michel Basquiat - Painter, ArtistLearn More
Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo. The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. She also wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays.
Zera Neale Hurston -Novelist, WriterLearn More
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) was an American poet, author, and teacher. Her work often dealt with the personal celebrations and struggles of ordinary people in her community. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on May 1, 1950, for Annie Allen, making her the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize.
Gwendolyn Brooks - Poet, Author, TeacherLearn More
Mary Edmonia Lewis, "Wildfire", was a black American sculptor, of mixed African-American and Native American heritage. Born free in Upstate New York, she worked for most of her career in Rome, Italy. She was the first Black American sculptor to achieve national and then international prominence.
Mary Edmonia Lewis - SculptorLearn More
Katherine Mary Dunham: Katherine Mary Dunham was an African-American dancer, choreographer, author, educator, anthropologist, and social activist. Dunham had one of the most successful dance careers in African-American and European theater of the 20th century, and directed her own dance company for many years. She has been called the "matriarch and queen mother of black dance.
Katherine Mary Dunham - Dancer, Choreographer, Anthropologist, EducatorLearn More