Happy Black History Month! Chances are, you mainly learned about the four founders of this country and the other important historical happenings of our country in school with very little emphasis on Black scholars, thinkers, and leaders. In no way is the below list exhaustive of Black history facts, but it’s a stepping stone to give you a greater understanding of the movers and shakers — whether people or events — that helped to shape America and Black culture. Our hope is you will continue to educate yourself on Black and underrepresented cultures.
- In the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, Black History Month is celebrated in October. In America, February was chosen to coincide with Frederick Douglass’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays.
- In 1870, Hiram Rhodes Revel became the first Black person elected to the U.S. Senate.
- In 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This was pre-Rosa Parks and in fact inspired the Montgomery bus boycott.
- In 1963, in front of 250,000 Americans at the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his iconic speech on the March on Washington. His original speech, according to advisors close to him, didn’t include anything about dreams but more so politics. His improvised line, “We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” turned his words from a speech to a sermon of hope and determination.
- Born in 1933, producer, songwriter and musician, Quincy Jones, is the most Grammy-nominated artist with 79 nominations and 27 wins.
- Aretha Franklin was the first female and first Black female inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
- World famous runner Usain Bolt became the first man to win three world records at an Olympics event in 2008.
- In 2018, NBA legend Kobe Bryant was the first athlete and Black person to win an Oscar for Best Animated Short for his film, Dear Basketball.