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Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. We are happy we get to study and celebrate such an important part of history this month! We’ve pulled together some Black History month facts to give a brief overview of some important parts of history.
“Among prominent figures are Madam C.J. Walker, who was the first U.S. woman to become a self-made millionaire; George Washington Carver, who derived nearly 300 products from the peanut; Rosa Parks, who sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and galvanized the civil rights movement; and Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.” (Black History Facts, History Channel, 2021).
Black History Month:
The celebration of Black History Month was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson joined four others in founding the holiday encouraging scholars to engage in the intensive study of the Black past.
Jack Johnson became the first African American man to hold the World Heavyweight Champion boxing title in 1908. He held onto the belt until 1915.
John Mercer Langston was the first Black man to become a lawyer when he passed the bar in Ohio in 1854.
Supreme Court Justice:
Thurgood Marshall was the first African American ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991.
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.
Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American ever elected to the U.S. Senate. He represented the state of Mississippi from February 1870 to March 1871.
First Woman Representative:
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives. She was elected in 1968 and represented the state of New York.
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.
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.
First Professional Black Baseball Player:
On April 5, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.
First Black Billionaire:
Before Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan joined the billionaire’s club, Robert Johnson became the first African American billionaire when he sold the cable station he founded, Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 2001.
First Black President:
In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Black president of the United States.
First Black Vice President:
In 2021, Kamala Harris became the first woman of African or Asian descent to become vice president. Harris’s mother immigrated to the United States from India and her father immigrated from Jamaica.