Recognizing The Unsung Heroes of Black History

By: Alyesha Coleman (Correspondent)

Dorothy Height (1912-2010) Height was a leader in addressing the rights of both women and African Americans as the president of the National Council of Negro Women. In 1963, she was one of the organizers of the famed March on Washington. She focused primarily on improving the circumstances of and opportunities for African-American women. Height organized the first Black Family Reunion in 1986 which focused on strengthening the African-American family.

Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) Rustin was a gay civil rights organizer and activist best known as his work as an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. He taught King about Gandhi’s philosophy of civil disobedience and organized the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956. Rustin organized the infamous 1963 March on Washington. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell used Rustin’s sexual orientation as his weapon forcing Clarence Jones, King’s his close confidante, advisor and speech writer, to guide and distance Rustin and King.

Shirley Anita Chisholm (1924-2005) Chisholm was the first African-American congresswoman in 1968. Four years later, she became the first major-party black candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency. Throughout her career, Chisholm fought for education opportunities and social justice.

Asa Philip Randolph (1889-1979) Randolph was a social activist who championed equitable labor rights for African-American communities. Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which by 1937 would become the first official African-American labor union. Randolph was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Diane Nash (1938-) Nash was greatly involved with integrating lunch counters through sit-ins, the Freedom Riders, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Selma Right-to-vote movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was also a part of the committee that promoted the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

René Lacoste (1904-1996) Lacoste was the highest ranking tennis player in the world in 1926 who had 24 career titles, was the inventor of the tennis ball machine and the steel tennis racket. Half Jamaican founder of the infamous Lacoste brand, René Lacoste was a very analytical man often writing pages of copious notes about his opponents.

Claudette Colvin (1939-) Colvin stood up against segregation in Alabama in 1955, when she was only 15 years old, months before the more infamous incident with Rosa Parks. The NAACP considered using her case to challenge segregation laws but decided against it because of her age and because she became pregnant in the months following. The NAACP believed that an unwed, teen mother would attract too much negative attention in a public legal battle.

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) Latimer was a draftsman who was the main contributor of the incandescent light bulb and the telephone credited to Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham-Bell respectively. Latimer was active in New York politics and civil rights issues expressing concern about the lack of African-American representation on the school board.

Annie Easley (1933-2011) Easley was a computer scientist, mathematician and rocket scientist who worked on Centaur technology at NASA; a high-energy rocket technology that uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to boost rockets into space.

Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877-1963) Morgan was an inventor who is most known for creating the precursor respiratory device that that would later provide the blueprint for WWI gas masks. Morgan was also the inventor of the traffic signal and a hair straightening product.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *