Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the first African American to lead a major American political party. Barack Obama: 2008 election night rally President-elect Barack Obama waving to the crowd at a massive election night rally in Chicago's Grant Park on November 4, 2008. Obviously, this table provides only a small sample of these courageous Americans; u-s-history.com will continue to add to this list from time to time. Invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives, boats, etc. Charles Drew's work in blood transfusions, for example, saved thousands of lives during World War II and is still used in medicine today. Isabella Baumfree; noted speaker for both the abolitionist movement and the women`s rights movement. Some, like Olympic track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, have set new records for athletic achievement. Others, like Black journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett and scholar W.E.B. June Bacon-Bercey: meteorology: 1932-Believed to be the first African-American woman to gain a degree in meteorology and confirmed to be the first African-American woman to be a televised meteorologist. Prominent member of the Black Panther party; author of Soul on Ice. Jackie Robinson - First African-American to play in Major League Baseball; Augusta Savage - Artist during the Harlem Renaissance; Robert Smalls - Civil War hero who later became a Congressman; Sojourner Truth - An escaped slave who fought for the end of the slavery and women's rights; Harriet Tubman - An escaped slave who became a leader in the Underground Railroad helping more slaves … Famous African Americans Loosely defined, African Americans are people whose ancestral heritage is tied to Africa as well as America. It is implemented on their music, writing style, painting, art, clothes, hairstyle and many more. First black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. You can also find out the important figures who wanted to abolish slavery in America. Collection Highlights: African American Artists . Founder of the first independent black Christian denomination in the U.S., the A.U.M.P. It is important to realize that Negro History Week was not born in a vacuum. Black Americans have served with distinction in all three branches of government, in the military, and in legal practice. Sarah Breedlove; founded the Madame C.J. A.K.A. De Klerk, Haile Selassie, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Anwar Sadat, Kofi Annan and Wangari Maathai. DuBois, paved the way with their own contributions in the century's first decades. Garrett is the originator of a technology we use even in this present day. In 1831, led failed slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia; the most remarkable instance of black resistance to enslavement. Cassius Clay; three-time heavyweight boxing champion; crowned Sportsman of the (20th) Century by Sports Illustrated. Image Name Field(s) Dates Notes Ref. During most of 17th and 18th centuries, male slaves outnumbered female slaves but this slave sex ratio level when a large number of African women were brought in between 1730 and 1750. No survey of 20th-century American literature would be complete without major contributions from Black writers. Thurgood Marshall, a leading civil rights lawyer, ended up on the U.S. Supreme Court. Carney was the first African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. One of the first African-American poets whose works were published. One of the key figures behind the formation of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Successful in a number of styles; member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Black Americans have advocated for civil rights since the earliest days of the United States. Some consider him to be the best all-around ball player the Negro Leagues ever produced. Read more Advertising. Poet, memoirist, actress, civil rights activist. First African-American general in the U.S. Army. (Satchel Paige). Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X are two of the best-known civil rights leaders of the 20th century. A.K.A. As an abolitionist, she acted as intelligence gatherer, refugee organizer, raid leader, nurse, revival speaker, and fund raiser. Whether you are researching a topic for Black History Month or just want to learn more, this listing of famous African Americans will help you find people who truly achieved greatness. First African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. With it being African American Music Appreciation Month, we decided to count down the 50 most important Black music artists of all time in the … New York City would continue to serve as a catalyst for African American artists for decades, with Jean-Michel Basquiat among the Big Apple's most famous artists—and contemporary art's most universally recognized figures.. Basquiat was born in Brooklyn to a Puerto Rican mother and a Haitian father in 1960. In 1816, founded the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Philadelphia. Co-founder, inspirational leader of the Black Panther party. A.K.A. Maya Angelou. The earliest known black American poets include Jupiter Hammon, Lucy Terry and Phillis Wheatley, all of whom were active in the 18th century. Communist, labor organizer, social activist. Known for his novel, Go Tell it on the Mountain. "Queen of Soul;" first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The "Big Dipper;" regarded as one of the most dominant basketball players of all time. Hall of Famer; holds career mark for home runs, RBIs, other records. The "First Lady of Song;" winner of 13 Grammy awards. Dance routines are often performed in the shop, while Nikky perfects his cutting creations on the likes of the African Cup of Nations football stars. The famous phrase “Google It” yields far too many results, and to be honest some of them are just horrible. Instrumental in eventually desegregating the University of Mississippi. Regarded as the best receiver ever to play the game; arguably the greatest football player ever; holder of 38 NFL records. "The Say Hey Kid," played center field; Hall of Famer; regarded as one of the finest players ever to have played the game. Famous African American Inventors 1. First baseman; called the "Black Lou Gehrig" as a result of hitting prowess, defensive position. Won the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom before assassination in 1968; known for advocating non-violence, racial equality; peacemaker, martyr. Walker Manufacturing Company to sell hair care products and cosmetics. Mansa Musa (c. 1280 – c. 1337) Mansa Musa was the ruler of the African country Mali. Instrumental in bringing recognition to the genre of African-American literature. Hall of Fame pitcher; voted to the all-20th-century team. Best known for the "Bo Diddley beat", a rhumba-based beat. One of the dominant figures in African-American history from 1890 to 1915; did much to improve the friendship and working relationship between the races. He became an influential bishop and Christian writer. Was able to make the calculations to predict solar and lunar eclipses and to compile an ephemeris for the Benjamin Banneker`s Almanac. Here are 10 of them. First African American to play Major League Baseball in the 20th century. Dubbed the "Mother of the modern-day Civil Rights Movement.". The following individuals have been selected from thousands of examples of selfless acts, sacrificing, in some cases, their own lives for the betterment of all. Kennedy Center Honors recipient, most known for her frenetic interpretation of "Proud Mary" by Credence Clearwater Revival. Considered "The Father of Chicago Blues.". Particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the 1920s through the 1960s. Often referred to as a spokesman for African Americans and … Was a dancer, singer, multi-instrumentalist (vibraphone, trumpet, drums); impressionist, comedian, actor. Du Bois and Martin Luther King Jr. made appearances at the university chapel, and The Founders Library houses the largest collection of documents, letters and oral histories recording the African American experience. Was a charismatic, innovative performer with musical skill; bright personality transformed jazz into a popular art form. Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. Most famous piece was Maple Leaf Rag, set standard for ragtime genre. Widow of the slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.; noted community leader in her own right. The poem “Bar Fight”, written in 1746 by Terry but not published until 1855, is the first poem known to have been written by a … Men and women who made a positive contribution to the world – in the fields of politics, literature, music, activism and spirituality. Garrett Morgan Garrett Morgan. Black theater, in the United States, dramatic movement encompassing plays written by, for, and about African Americans. Was also a strong supporter of Prohibition and woman`s suffrage. Elijah McCoy. Politician, civil rights activist, minister. Some, like Sidney Poitier, challenged racial attitudes with his role in popular films like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," while others, such as Oprah Winfrey, have become media moguls and cultural icons. First African American elected to the U.S. Senate. Kids and other researchers can scan this page for facts fast. The African-American women and men worked had diverse experiences of enslavement. Rock and roll singer, songwriter, guitarist. Sgt. Shuffle Along (with Noble Sissle), in 1921, was the first Broadway musical ever to be written and directed by African Americans. First African American to serve as diplomatic minister to a foreign country. Civil rights activist, sociologist, historian, writer, editor, poet, freemason, scholar. Entertainer, actor, comic, educator, television producer, philanthropist. Was the first African American, and first individual of non-European ethnicity or race, to be so honored in the history of the prize. Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader, Civil Rights Movement Timeline From 1951 to 1959, 5 Men Who Inspired Martin Luther King, Jr. to Be a Leader, 6 Revealing Autobiographies by African American Thinkers, Civil Rights Movement Timeline From 1960 to 1964, Civil Rights Movement Timeline From 1965 to 1969, 10 of the Most Important Black Women in U.S. History, B.A., History, University of California at Davis. Invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives, boats, etc. His presence in MLB … In 1944, an African American soldier, Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., was appointed as commissioned officer and was promoted to command a US warship which was the first time for any black officer. The son of an enslaved black woman and a white man, Johnson was born into slavery around 1763. Some of these singers also enjoy a major fan following on social media platforms as well. G.W. Few details of his life are known. Civil War hero. This was a major event in the history of Civil Rights in the United States. But African Americans have been essential to all aspects of music, from opera singer Marian Anderson to pop icon Michael Jackson. Controversial quote, "Hitler was a very great man;" in response to a Jewish journalist referring to him as a "Black Hitler.". Boxer; war protester; member, Nation of Islam; civil rights protester; poet. Civil rights activist, minister, Nobel laureate. Isabel Wilkerson, the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, documented these movements in her 2010 book, which involved 15 years of … Best known for her autobiographical writings I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969); All God`s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986). Known as "Stagecoach Mary", Fields was the first African-American to work for the U.S. postal service. If you want to know the black culture in United States, you need to read Facts about African American Culture. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Politicians, Lawyers, and Other Government Leaders, Brooks Kraft / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images, Black History and Women Timeline 1990 to 1999, Biography of the Rev. Brought soulful sound to everything from country music to pop standards to now-iconic rendition of "America the Beautiful.". First black Congressman from the Democratic Party. Contralto, best remembered for her performance on Easter Sunday, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. First African American of either gender to publish a novel on the North American continent. The events of World War 2 helped to force social changes which included the desegregation of the U.S. military forces. Whether performing on stage, in films, or on TV, Black Americans entertained the United States throughout the 20th century. Bouldin stood out as a light and a beacon in the African American community of San Antonio and should be honored for his contributions to San Antonio as a whole. African Americans have made a great contribution to the poetry of the United States as well as the world since the 18th century. The movie combines science fiction, authentic African visual art and music, building on the ideology of Afrofuturism cultural movement. Author, poet, folklorist, civil rights leader. DuBois, paved the way with their own contributions in the century's first decades. Carver is famous for many inventions including a number of uses for the peanut. Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Nina Simone are a few other African American singers who have made their community proud. Others, like Black journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett and scholar W.E.B. "Father of Pan-Africanism" with issues of segregation, political disenfranchisement. The individuals that make up the whole of the black population, have offered up their talents to forward the cause of peace and prosperity in America. There would be no jazz music today were it not for the contributions of artists like Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong, who were instrumental in the evolution of this uniquely American music genre. Despite the fact that African Americans have been suppressed in every possible way for many centuries, they have a rich culture and history. Famous Africans – A list of famous Africans. First African American to make vocal blues recordings, in 1920. Examples include James Brown’s King Shotaway (1823), Angelina W. Grimke’s Rachel (1916), and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (1959). Ella Baker. Was at the forefront of almost every major development in jazz after World War II. Lew Alcindor; NBA`s all-time leading scorer. 1842-1908. William H. Carney. So, I put together a list of black historical figures. Joshua Johnson, The Westwood Children, c. 1807, oil on canvas, Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1959.11.1 Joshua Johnson is America’s earliest-known professional African American artist. Nearly every professional and amateur sport has a Black star athlete. Second African American to serve on U.S. Supreme Court. African Americans, one of the largest of the many ethnic groups in the United States. Acclaimed American poet, author and activist Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928. 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