South Cook ISC Celebrates

Black History Month

Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, South Cook ISC4 would like to acknowledge and share our appreciation for the accomplishments of African-Americans who have together helped to shape our society, our culture, and our world. Our staff members collaborated to share the resources below to shine a light on some lesser-known figures whose contributions should not be lost and to celebrate the achievements of figures who are already widely known and beloved. We invite you to celebrate this proud legacy with us, and we hope you enjoy the resources we’ve shared!

A Selection of African-American Heroes

Ethel Baily Furman

During her career, Furman designed almost 200 structures, residences, and churches. Although many of her earliest buildings have been demolished, extant structures include the Fair Oak Baptist Church (Richmond), Saint James Baptist Church (Goochland County), Mount Nebo Baptist Church (New Kent County), and two churches in Liberia. Her design of the education wing of Richmond's Fourth Baptist Church was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Church Hill North Historic District's boundary expansion in 2000. She also designed the birthplace and childhood home of future Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder. Furman's residences were deliberately designed as functional. Intended for her middle class clients' needs, she used high quality materials and structural details. Furman also included detailed engineering drawings, evidence of her mastery of building technology.
Being a woman—and a woman of color—Furman faced serious difficulties and barriers. Despite her education and experience, building inspectors often challenged her architectural plans, looking for any reason to deny a building permit. While she sometimes submitted her plans under the name of male contractors, she generally insisted on presenting designs under her own name. Despite her early professional assurance, it was not until 1958 that Furman actually listed herself in the Richmond City directory as a draftsman and not until 1968 that she listed herself as an architect. When Furman's architectural work provided insufficient income, she took additional low-paying jobs that women traditionally held, such as waitress, cook, maid, seamstress, and hat trimmer. She was also a notary public. Furman continued to design churches and residences until her death in 1976.
https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.asp?b=Furman_Ethel_Bailey

Dr. Louis Iron

Dr. Louis Iron
All the Tuskegee Airmen flew pursuit planes and many of them were already overseas in Italy when Irons and Wilkerson arrived.
"They had proven themselves," Irons said. "The military figured blacks could fly bombers too."
The B-25, the type of bomber to which most blacks were assigned, required a five-man crew, consisting of two pilots, a navigator, a bombardier and a flight engineer. Irons was sent to Texas to become a flight engineer.
"It was my first Christmas away from Chicago Heights, away from my family and away from my best friend Wilk," Irons remembered.
In Tuskegee, Wilkerson was training to be a pilot. In Texas, Irons was in school all day, learning every inch of the plane. But Irons remembered learning just as much about segregation as he did about the Boeing B-17.
"Being black and in Texas, we had to stay in Section O, which was where all the black soldiers stayed," Irons said. "If we went to the PX (post exchange), we could only go to the black section. If we went to the movies, we had to sit in a section for blacks. It didn't feel great, but we overcame it. It made us that much stronger."
https://patch.com/illinois/chicagoheights/louis-melvin-irons-from-chicago-heights-to-tuskegee-and-back

The Chicago Defender

The Chicago Defender
On May 5, 1905, Robert Sengstacke Abbott founded the Chicago Defender in a small kitchen in his landlord’s apartment, with an initial investment of 25 cents and a press run of 300 copies. The Chicago Defender’s first issues were in the form of four-page, six-column handbills, filled with local news items gathered by Abbott and clippings from other newspapers. Five years later, the Chicago Defender began to attract a national audience.
https://chicagodefender.com/history-of-the-chicago-defender/

Samuel B. Fuller

S. B. Fuller
Fuller was the first black member of the National Assn. of Manufacturers. He was a native of Ouachita Parish, La., who left school after the sixth grade. His mother, who died when he was 17, persuaded him that the best way out of poverty was door-to-door sales.
After hitchhiking to Chicago, he became a salesman for the Commonwealth Burial Assn. Insurance Co. By 1934, he had become its manager.
In 1935, he started Fuller Products with the $25 borrowed on his car and then used door-to-door sales representatives to handle 30 items from a little-known cosmetics line.
Fuller Products peaked in the 1960s with sales of $10 million annually and sales offices in 38 states.
https://chicagodefender.com/history-of-the-chicago-defender/

Jet Magazine

Jet Magazine
Jet is an American weekly digital magazine focusing on news, culture, and entertainment related to the African-American community. Founded in November 1951 by John H. Johnson of the Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois,[3][4] the magazine was billed as "The Weekly Negro News Magazine". Jet chronicled the civil rights movement from its earliest years, including the murder of Emmett Till, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the activities of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Jet was printed from November 1, 1951, in digest-sized format in all or mostly black-and-white until its December 27, 1999, issue. In 2009, Jet expanded one of the weekly issues to a double issue published once each month. Johnson Publishing Company struggled with the same loss of circulation and advertising as other magazines and newspapers in the digital age, and the final print issue of Jet was published on June 23, 2014, continuing solely as a digital magazine app.[5][1] In 2016, Johnson Publishing sold Jet and its sister publication Ebony to private equity firm Clear View Group. As of the date of sale, the publishing company is known as Ebony Media Corporation.[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_(magazine)

Rev. William Washington Browne

Rev. William Washington Browne
The history of The Savings Bank of the Grand Fountain United Order of True Reformers tells a fascinating story about the struggles and triumphs of Rev. William Washington Browne, a former Georgia slave who founded the first ever Black-owned bank in America. Founded in 1888, the bank opened with deposits on the first day of more than $1,269.
Reverend William Washington Browne established the bank to serve the financial interests of Black depositors. He wanted a bank that would serve to protect the finances of Black clients to ensure their finances could not be monitored by whites.
The name of the bank came from the Grand Fountain United Order of True Reformers, a Black fraternal organization established by Browne in 1849. Racial tension remained high after the Civil War, so Browne established the first Black-owned bank in Richmond, Virginia, which initially operated out of his home. Two years later, the bank moved to its location several blocks away at 604-608 North Second Street.
https://www.blackbusiness.com/2016/02/first-ever-black-owned-bank-founder-once-a-slave.html

Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown

Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown
Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown spent her childhood in an orphanage and grew up to become the first African American woman surgeon in the South, eventually being made chief of surgery at Nashville's Riverside Hospital. She was also the first African American woman to be made a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Among Dr. Brown's many honors are the naming of the Dorothy L. Brown Women's Residence at Meharry College in 1970. She also received the humanitarian award from the Carnegie Foundation in 1993 and the prestigious Horatio Alger Award in 1994. As she often said, she was proud to be a role model, "not because I have done so much, but to say to young people that it can be done."
https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_46.html

Annie J. Easley

Annie J. Easley
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1933, Easley aspired to become a nurse, then a pharmacist. After getting married and moving to Cleveland in 1954, she wasn't able to continue her pharmacy studies. But after reading a story about twin-sister "human computers" working at a research lab in Cleveland, she determined to become a computer herself. And in 1955, she became one for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which preceded NASA.
Easley was one of only four Black employees among the agency's staff of 2,500. "Our jobs were really to do the computations for the engineering side of the house," she said in a 2001 NASA oral history. "The engineers and the scientists are working away in their labs and their test cells, and they come up with problems that need mathematical computation."
None of what she was part of at NASA was easy. She knew it wouldn’t be. But she wasn’t one to be deterred. “My head is not in the sand. But my thing is, if I can’t work with you, I will work around you,” she said in 2001. “I was not about to be [so] discouraged that I’d walk away. That may be a solution for some people, but it’s not mine.” She added, "I just have my own attitude. I’m out here to do a job, and I knew I had the ability to do it, and that’s where my focus was."
Easley retired from NASA in 1989 and died in 2011, leaving a legacy of perseverance and accomplishment that becomes more resonant and inspirational with each passing year—and each new innovation built on her genius.
https://elective.collegeboard.org/annie-easley-computer-science-pioneer

Charles Richard Drew

Charles Richard Drew
Dr. Charles Richard Drew broke barriers in a racially divided America to become one of the most important scientists of the 20th century. His pioneering research and systematic developments in the use and preservation of blood plasma during World War II not only saved thousands of lives, but innovated the nation’s blood banking process and standardized procedures for long-term blood preservation and storage techniques adapted by the American Red Cross.
Drew’s interest in transfusion medicine began during his internship and surgical residency at Montreal Hospital (1933-1935) working with bacteriology professor John Beattie on ways to treat shock with fluid replacement. Drew aspired to continue training in transfusion therapy at the Mayo Clinic, but racial prejudices at major American medical centers barred black scholars from their practices. He would instead join the faculty at Howard University College of Medicine, starting as a pathology instructor, and then progressing to surgical instructor and chief surgical resident at Freedmen's Hospital.
Drew’s doctoral research assessed previous blood and transfusion research, blood chemistry and fluid replacement, and evaluated variables affecting shelf-life of stored blood — from types and amounts of anticoagulants (substances that prevent blood from clotting) and preservatives, to shapes of storage containers and temperature.
https://www.acs.org/education/whatischemistry/african-americans-in-sciences/charles-richard-drew.html

Freedman's Village, Va.

Freedman's Village, Va.
In 1863 the federal government built Freedman's Village on the grounds of the Curtis and Lee estates. There were about 50 one-and-a-half-story houses, each of which was divided to accommodate two families. The settlement was home to some notable residents, including Sojourner Truth — who in 1864 worked as a teacher and helped villagers find jobs. The government closed down the village in 1900. It is now the site of the southern end of Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the Navy Annex building.

The Rosewood Massacre

The Rosewood Massacre
The Rosewood massacre was a racially motivated massacre of black people and the destruction of a black town that took place during the first week of January 1923 in rural Levy County, Florida, United States. At least six black people were killed, but eyewitness accounts suggested a higher death toll of 27 to 150. In addition, two white people were killed in self-defense by one of the victims. The town of Rosewood was destroyed in what contemporary news reports characterized as a race riot. Florida had an especially high number of lynchings of black men in the years before the massacre,[2] including the lynching of Charles Strong and the Perry massacre in 1922.

Seneca Village

Seneca Village
Seneca Village was a 19th-century settlement of mostly African American landowners in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, within what would become present-day Central Park. The settlement was located near the current Upper West Side neighborhood, approximately bounded by Central Park West and the axes of 82nd Street, 89th Street, and Seventh Avenue, had they been constructed through the park.
Seneca Village was founded in 1825 by free Black Americans, the first such community in the city, although under Dutch rule there was a "half-free" community of African-owned farms north of New Amsterdam. At its peak, the community had approximately 225 residents, three churches, two schools, and three cemeteries. The settlement was later also inhabited by Irish and German immigrants. Seneca Village existed until 1857, when, through eminent domain, the villagers and other settlers in the area were forced to leave and their houses were torn down for the construction of Central Park. The entirety of the village was dispersed.

Tulsa Massacre

Tulsa Massacre
The Devastation of Black Wall Street
In 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street, was one of the most prosperous African-American communities in the United States. But on May 31 of that year, the Tulsa Tribune reported that a black man, Dick Rowland, attempted to rape a white woman, Sarah Page. Whites in the area refused to wait for the investigative process to play out, sparking two days of unprecedented racial violence. Thirty-five city blocks went up in flames, 300 people died, and 800 were injured. Defense of white female virtue was the expressed motivation for the collective racial violence.

bell hooks

Bell Hooks
She’s created a wide verity of children’s and adult books to keep people informed about the black experience both inside and outside of America. as well as both historical and present issues.
Bell hooks (born September 25, 1952, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, U.S.—died December 15, 2021, Berea, Kentucky) was an American scholar and activist whose work examined the connections between race, gender, and class. She often explored the varied perceptions of Black women and Black women writers and the development of feminist identities.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/bell-hooks

Alice Walker

Alice Walker
Born to sharecropper parents, Alice Walker grew up to become a highly acclaimed novelist, essayist and poet. She is best known for her 1982 novel The Color Purple, which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and soon was adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/alice-walker

Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, has become a leading figure in narrative nonfiction, an interpreter of the human condition, and an impassioned voice for demonstrating how history can help us understand ourselves, our country, and our current era of upheaval.
https://www.isabelwilkerson.com/

Robert Sengstacke Abbott

Robert Sengstacke Abbott
Without Abbott's creative vision, many of the Black publications of today—such as Ebony, Essence, Black Enterprise, and Upscale—wouldn't exist. In 1905, Abbott founded the Chicago Defender weekly newspaper. The paper originally started out as a four-page pamphlet, increasing its circulation with every edition. Abbott and his newspaper played an integral part in encouraging African Americans to migrate from the South for better economic opportunities.
https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/g25954127/african-american-historical-figures/

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks
Today, Brooks is considered to be one of the most revered poets of the 20th century. She was the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1950, for Annie Allen), and she served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, becoming the first Black woman to hold that position. She was also the poet laureate of the State of Illinois, and many of her works reflected the political and social landscape of the 1960s, including the civil rights movement and the economic climate.
https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/g25954127/african-american-historical-figures/

Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks
Parks was the first African American photographer on the staff of Life magazine, and later helped found Essence. He also was the first Black writer and director of a studio film, and his second movie, Shaft, helping to shape the blaxploitation era in the '70s. Parks famously told Life in 1999: "I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera."
https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/g25954127/african-american-historical-figures/

Calvin Peete

Calvin Peete
A renowned professional golfer, Calvin Peete made history by winning 12 major PGA (Professional Golf Association) tournaments between 1979 and 1986. One of the most prolific winners and one of the straightest hitters on the PGA Tour in the 1980s, Peete won the PGA’s driving accuracy title for ten consecutive years (1981-1990). Before the emergence of Tiger Woods, Peete was the most successful African American on the PGA Tour.

Dr. Shirley Jackson

Dr. Shirley Jackson
Dr. Shirley Jackson is an American physicist who received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. She was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in nuclear physics at MIT. In addition to her lengthy list of academic achievements, she also has an impressive number of inventions under her belt. Her experiments with theoretical physics paved the way for numerous developments in the telecommunication space including the touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting, and the fiber-optic cable. Today, Dr. Shirley Jackson is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Lisa Gelobter

Lisa Gelobter
If you ever enjoyed an animated Gif on the web, like this one amazing clip of a kitten being scared by an iguana, then you have Lisa Gelobter to thank. Gelobter was integrally involved with the advent of Shockwave, a technology that formed the beginning of web animation. She also played a major role in the emergency of online video, later serving on the senior management team at Hulu. Previously, Lisa was the Interim Head of Digital for BET Networks and ran Technology, Product and Business Operations. Today, you can catch Lisa at the White House, in the United States Digital Service. She is currently serving as the Chief Digital Service Officer with the US Department of Education.

Philip Emeagwali

Philip Emeagwali
Due to cost, Philip Emeagwali was forced to drop out of school at age 14. But this didn’t stop him from becoming one of the greatest computer pioneers of our time. In fact, he’s often called “The Bill Gates of Africa.” As an adult, Emeagwali began studying nature, specifically bees. The construction of the honeycombed inspired him to rethink computer processing. In 1989, he put this idea to work, using 65,000 processes to invent the world’s first massively parallel processing supercomputer — able to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second. That same year, Emeagwali received the Gordon Bell Prize for his application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer.

Dr. Marian Croak

Dr. Marian Croak
Dr. Marian Croak, Engineer, developed Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), enabling services such as Skype and Zoom, and the technology behind "text to donate." She owns over 200 patents.
Marian Rogers Croak is a Vice President of Engineering at Google. She was previously the Senior Vice President of Research and Development at AT&T. She holds more than 200 patents. She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2022, Croak was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her patent regarding VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Technology. She is one of the first two Black women to receive that honor, along with Patricia Bath. Her invention allows users to make calls over the internet instead of a phone line. Today, the widespread use of VoIP technology is vital for remote work and conferencing.

Maggie Lena Walker

Maggie Lena Walker
At the turn of the century, Maggie Lena Walker was one of the foremost female business leaders in the United States. She gained national prominence when she became the first woman to own a bank in the United States. Walker’s entrepreneurial skills transformed black business practices while also inspiring other women to enter the field.
Walker was born to enslaved parents on July 15, 1864 in Richmond, Virginia. After the Civil War, her mother worked as a laundress and her father as a butler in a popular Richmond hotel. Walker’s father was killed and she had to help her mother financially by working. Although his death was ruled a suicide, Walker later revealed that she believed he had been murdered. She attended a local school in Richmond and upon graduation, began teaching. She stepped down from teaching after she married a successful brick maker.
When Walker was 14, she joined the Independent Order of St. Luke’s, an African American benevolent organization that helped the sick and elderly in Richmond. Within the organization, Walker held many high-ranking positions. In 1902, she began publishing the organization’s newspaper, The St. Luke Herald. She encouraged African Americans in Richmond to harness their economic power by establishing their own institutions through the newspaper.
Walker had always focused her efforts on accounting and math. Her first business endeavor was a community insurance company for women. From there she continued her entrepreneurial pursuits. In 1903, she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Walker was the first woman of any race to charter a bank in the United States. The bank was a powerful representation of black self-help in the segregated South. The Penny Savings Bank not only attracted adults but Walker worked to appeal to children by passing out banks which encouraged them to save their money.
In 1915, Walker’s husband was killed by her son, after he mistook him for a burglar. Her husband’s passing left her in charge of a large estate. She continued working for the Order of St. Luke's but also held leadership positions in other civic organizations, including National Association of Colored Women (NACW). She also served as the Vice President of the Richmond chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
By 1924, the Penny Savings Bank had spread to other parts of Virginia and included more than 50,000 members. While other banks collapsed during the Great Depression St. Luke’s Penny Saving survived. The bank eventually consolidated with two other large bank and moved to downtown Richmond. It is still in operation today.
After an illness in 1928, Walker was forced to use a wheelchair. Although limited in movement, Walker remained a leader in the Richmond African American community. She fought arduously for women’s rights as well. For much of her life Walker served as board member of the Virginia Industrial School for Girls.
On December 15, 1934, Walker died from complications due to diabetes. Walker’s house in Richmond has since been designated a National Historic Site by the National Park Service.
https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/maggie-lena-walker

Opal Lee

Opal Lee
Opal (Flake) Lee is a retired teacher and activist who is considered the “grandmother of Juneteenth.” Flake was born on October 7, 1926, in Marshall, Texas, to Otis Flake and Mattie Broadus. When Lee was a child, her family home burned down in a fire, and her father left town to find work but did not immediately return. Her mother moved the family to Fort Worth when she was ten years old, where Flake attended Cooper Street Elementary School. When Otis Flake heard the family was in Fort Worth, he joined them. Mattie Broadus fell on a city bus and was awarded a settlement, which the family used to purchase a home at 940 East Annie Street on the south side of Fort Worth in June 1939. They were the first Black family in the neighborhood, prompting an angry mob of 500 white residents to burn down the home on June 19, 1939.
The family relocated, and Flake graduated from I.M. Terrell High School in 1943. She got married, had four children, and divorced after five years of marriage. Flake returned to Marshall and enrolled in Wiley College. She worked as a maid at the Texas Hotel with her mother while attending college during the day. Flake earned her Bachelor of Arts in 1953 and returned to Fort Worth, where she began teaching at Amanda McCoy Elementary School for $2,000 a year. She took a second job at the Convair aircraft plant to make ends meet.
In 1967, Flake married Dale Lee, the principal at Morningside Elementary, and then enrolled in recently-desegregated North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), where she earned a master’s degree in counseling and guidance in 1968. Lee then worked as an educator and home school counselor at the Fort Worth Independent School District before retiring in 1977.
At 51, Lee began a new career working at a community food bank in the Jax beer-distributing building. When the building burned down, she and other community workers moved into a warehouse where initially the rent was $4,000 a month. After a year, however, the owner donated the building after he recognized the importance of the food bank to the community. For the past five decades, the community food bank has fed an average of 500 families each week. Lee lives near the warehouse and owns a thirteen-acre farm to grow food for the food bank.
Since the 1970s, Lee has been involved in the preservation of local African American history, which eventually led to the creation of the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, founded in April 1977 by 21 charter members, including Lee. Since its founding, the society organized the annual Juneteenth celebrations. Each year thousands gathered at Sycamore Park to commemorate the official end of slavery in Texas. As part of the celebration, Lee often walked two and a half miles, representing the number of years before Texas enslaved people knew they were free.
In 2016, however, after urging society to “go bigger,” Lee, then 89 years old, walked from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., to deliver 1.6 million signatures in support of making Juneteenth a national holiday. She began her walk in September 2016, gathering pledges and signatures along the 1,360-mile route, and arrived in Washington in January 2017. Her Juneteenth walk sparked renewed interest in making the day a federal holiday. On June 17, 2021, Lee was present at The White House when President Joe Biden signed the bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/opal-lee-1926/

Glenn Edward Burleigh

Glenn Edward Burleigh
Born July 5, 1949, in Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma, he was a son of Rev. Nathaniel and Iona Burleigh.
He studied piano at the University of Oklahoma and at Oklahoma City University. He coached with James Mathis (former professor of piano at the University of Oklahoma and student of Rosina Lhevinne of the Juilliard School). He served as principal accompanist and Assistant Music Director for Lyric Theater of Oklahoma, and accompanist for the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma.
Mr. Burleigh accompanied the Ebony Opera Guild of Houston, TX, and studied accompanying with its late music director, Dr. Robert Henry. He also studied and performed the Saint Saens Piano Concerto No 2 in a Master Class with Pianist, Jaen Cassadesus.
In 1993, Mr. Burleigh founded the Glenn Burleigh Music Workshop and Ministry, Inc., an organization that is dedicated to teaching and training of those in Christian music ministry.
Many of his musical compositions are on file at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College in Chicago and at the American Music Center in New York City. He has over 100 works copyrighted in the Library of Congress.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/artists/glenn-burleigh

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner
&
Mildred Davidson Austin Smith

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner & Mildred Davidson Austin Smith
Mary and her sister Mildred patented many practical inventions. They didn’t have technical education, but they were both exceptional at spotting ways to make peoples’ lives better. Together, they invented the sanitary belt. Later, Mary invented the moisture-resistant pocket for the belt. While disabled from multiple sclerosis, Mary went on to invent the walker and the toilet-tissue holder. Mildred Davidson Austin Smith also grew up to patent a board game, Family Treedition, in the 1980s.
In 1976 Kenner patented an attachment for a walker or wheelchair that included a hard-surfaced tray and a soft pocket for carrying items. Kenner also invented a toilet paper holder that she patented. Her final patent, granted on September 29, 1987, was for a mounted back washer and massager.
Kenner never received any awards or formal recognition for her work. However, her inventions and contributions helped pave the way for subsequent innovations. Kenner still holds the record for the greatest number of patents awarded a Black woman by the U.S. government.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair

Dr. Ronald E. McNair
A respected physicist and astronaut, he was the second African-American to travel into space. He was a Mission Specialist on the Space Shuttle Challenger and died tragically in its 1986 explosion.
For his achievements, Ronald E. McNair received three honorary doctorate degrees and many fellowships and commendations. These distinctions include: Presidential Scholar, 1967-71; Ford Foundation Fellow, 1971-74; National Fellowship Fund Fellow, 1974-75; Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the Year, 1975; Distinguished National Scientist, National Society of Black Professional Engineers, 1979; and the Friend of Freedom Award, 1981.
https://mcnair.berkeley.edu/about-ronald-e-mcnair

Sherrilyn Ifill

Sherrilyn Ifill is the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization fighting for racial justice and equality. LDF was founded in 1940 by legendary civil rights lawyer (and later Supreme Court justice) Thurgood Marshall, and became a separate organization from the NAACP in 1957. The lawyers at the Legal Defense Fund developed and executed the legal strategy that led to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, widely regarded as the most transformative and monumental legal decision of the 20th century. Ifill is the second woman to lead the organization.
https://www.naacpldf.org/about-us/staff/sherrilyn-ifill/

Carter Godwin Woodson

Carter Godwin Woodson (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950) was an American historian, author, journalist, and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study the history of the African diaspora, including African-American history. A founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1916, Woodson has been called the "father of black history". In February 1926 he launched the celebration of "Negro History Week", the precursor of Black History Month.
Born in Virginia, the son of former slaves, Woodson had to put off schooling while he worked in the coal mines of West Virginia. He graduated from Berea College, and became a teacher and school administrator. He gained graduate degrees at the University of Chicago and in 1912 was the second African American, after W. E. B. Du Bois, to obtain a PhD degree from Harvard University. Woodson remains the only person whose parents were enslaved in the US to obtain a PhD. Most of Woodson's academic career was spent at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C., where he eventually served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_History_Month

Jane Bolin

Jane Bolin (1908-2007) was the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School. The first Black woman to join the New York City Bar Association. The nation’s first Black female judge. The daughter of an influential lawyer, Bolin grew up admiring her father’s leather-bound books while recoiling at photos of lynchings in the NAACP magazine. Wanting a career in social justice, she graduated from Wellesley and Yale Law School and went into private practice in New York City. In 1939, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia appointed her a family court judge. As the first Black female judge in the country, she made national headlines. She served on the bench for 40 years. Before her death at age 98, she looked back at her lifetime of shattering glass ceilings. “Everyone else makes a fuss about it, but I didn’t think about it, and I still don’t,” she said in 1993. “I wasn’t concerned about (being) first, second or last. My work was my primary concern.”

Marie Maynard Daly

Marie Maynard Daly
Overcoming the dual hurdles of racial and gender bias, Marie Maynard Daly (1921–2003) conducted important studies on cholesterol, sugars, and proteins. In addition to her research, she was committed to developing programs to increase the enrollment of minority students in medical school and graduate science programs. After completing her doctoral degree Daly taught for two years at Howard University in Washington, DC. On receiving a grant from the American Cancer Society to support her postdoctoral research, she joined Alfred E. Mirsky, a pioneer in molecular biology, at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, where for seven years she worked on the composition and metabolism of components of the cell nucleus, among other studies. Then Daly took a new position teaching biochemistry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. In 1960 she became a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she remained until her retirement in 1986.
In addition to her research Daly was committed to developing programs to increase the enrollment of minority students in medical school and graduate science programs. In 1988 she established a scholarship fund for African American science students at Queens College in honor of her father.

Martin Luther Kilson Jr.

Martin Luther Kilson
Martin Luther Kilson Jr. was an American political scientist, who in 1969 became the first African American to be named a full professor at Harvard College. Kilson was the valedictorian of his 1953 graduating class at Lincoln University. Winning several prominent scholarships and fellowships, he earned a Masters and a Doctoral degree in Political Science at Harvard University where he wrote a dissertation titled “United Nations Visiting Missions to Trust Territories.” He was later the Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government from 1988 until his retirement in 1999.

Valerie L. Thomas

Valerie L. Thomas
Valerie L. Thomas (born February 8, 1943) is an American scientist and inventor who began working for NASA in 1964. She invented the illusion transmitter, responsible for 3D movies and television, for which she received a patent in 1980. She was responsible for developing the digital media formats image processing systems used in the early years of the Landsat program.

Doris "Dori" Miller

Doris 'Dori' Miller
Doris “Dorie” Miller enlisted in the Navy in 1939 and was made a mess attendant in the United States “Jim Crow” Navy. Miller was eventually elevated to Cook, Third Class. He was eventually assigned to the USS West Virginia stationed in Hawaii. Miller was aboard the West Virginia on December 7, 1941, when it was subjected to a surprise attack by Japan. During the attack, Miller secured an unattended anti-aircraft gun and began firing at Japanese war planes. Miller had no previous training in operating the weapon. Miller shot down at least one Japanese aircraft before he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship.

Florence Price

Florence Price
Florence B. Price was born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas. She graduated high school as valedictorian at 14 years old and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in organ and piano performance from the New England Conservatory in 1906. She relocated to Chicago, and in 1933 the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed the world premiere of her Symphony No. 1 in E minor, making her the first black female composer to have her work performed by a major American orchestra. Florence B. Price composed more than 300 works in her lifetime that include symphonies, organ works, piano concertos, violin works, arrangements of spirituals, art songs, and chamber works.

Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Micheaux
Oscar Micheaux (October 2, 1884 – 1951) was a pioneering African American author and filmmaker, and without a doubt the most famous producer of race films. Micheaux (or sometimes written as “Michaux”), was born near Metropolis, Illinois and grew up in Great Bend, Kansas, one of eleven children of former slaves. As a young boy he shined shoes and worked as a porter on the railway. As a young man, he very successfully homesteaded a farm in an all-white area of South Dakota where he began writing stories. Given the attitudes and restrictions on black people at the time, Micheaux overcame them by forming his own publishing company to buy his books door-to-house.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Lee Crumpler
Rebecca Lee Crumpler, born February 8, 1831 as Rebecca Davis was an American physician. After studying at the New England Female Medical College, in 1864 she became the first African-American woman to become a doctor of medicine in the United States. Crumpler challenged the prejudice that prevented African Americans from pursuing careers in medicine. she became a published author, which was nearly unheard of for African-Americans at the time, and was even more rare for African-American women. crumpler is known for publishing “A Book Of Medical Discourses: In Two Parts” in 1883.

Ronald Daly Sr.

Ronald Daly Sr.
As one of the first African Americans to work at Donnelley, Daly continued his education, and, in 1975, earned his associate’s degree from Prairie State University. Two years later, he earned a B.A. degree from Governor’s State College, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. Daly continued his education, earning an M.B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago in 1980. He continued to work at R.R. Donnelley, and by the time he left in 2002, he had risen to the position of president of Donnelley Print Solutions, the largest division of the organization. Daly was then named president and CEO of Océ-USA Holding, Incorporated. At Océ, Daly is the first American to run the company’s North American operations, and the first American to sit on the board of directors of the Netherlands-based company.
History Maker's Biography of Ronald Daly Sr.
WhatTheyThink.com - Ronald Daly Sr. and Forbes

John Hope Bryant

John Hope Bryant
Bryant believes that people who come from underserved communities, such as the ones he grew up in, from Compton to South Central Los Angeles, California, have unlimited potential to contribute and to positively impact and change this world. He believes that most every successful big business was once a small one. And that the vast majority of these small business examples the founder was a single entrepreneur who came from little-to-nothing – just like John Hope Bryant did – and was simply relentless in their pursuit to do something, to become something, and to BUILD something. He believes that there is an undiscovered Steve Jobs in every underserved community in America, and in the world over – and he has made it his business to help find them, worldwide. John Hope Bryant believes that within the vast ‘Invisible Class’ is untapped GDP, entrepreneurial brilliance, and untapped prosperity for all waiting to be born.

Dr. Mae Jemison

Dr. Mae Jemison
Dr. Mae Jemison, dancer and physician, was the first black woman to travel in space, as an astronaut on the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992, According to Webster's Dictionary, a dream is a "series of thoughts, images or emotions occurring during sleep." Nowadays, when we speak of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality, it seems like one of those gauzy images that have little to do with our waking life. But King's dream wasn't an illusive fantasy to Dr. Mae Jemison. It was a call to action. "Too often people paint him like Santa -- smiley and inoffensive," said the African-American woman who broke the racial barrier on the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992. "But when I think of Martin Luther King, I think of attitude and audacity." Jemison said King's action on his dream made her life possible. As a little girl growing up in Chicago, she'd gaze at the stars. "I could see myself in space when others couldn't," she said. "I had to learn not to limit myself because of others' limited imagination."

Octavia E. Butler

Octavia E. Butler
Octavia Estelle Butler (1947 – 2006) was the first black female science fiction author to achieve national recognition. She was a pioneer in turning speculative fiction into a home for black expression. She was twice the winner of the Nebula and Hugo awards for science fiction, and she was the only writer in her genre to receive a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Her work is currently taught in more than 200 colleges and universities across the country.
Octavia Butler: Writing Herself Into The Story
Octavia E. Butler – About the Author