Some New Names in the Black History Hall of Fame

Some New Names in the Black History Hall of Fame
February is a bitter sweet time as the history of blacks in America is shared during a short window of opportunity. Often the same names are repeated over and over, as if in 400 years only a few special people have represented the race with brilliance and courage. Reflecting upon the sacrifices of those who have gone before and trying to “pay it forward” keeps focus on inequities that still need to be resolved. There are so many people to celebrate and the only way that oversight will be corrected is to introduce different names each year.
Long before Dr. Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, facilitated research into Brown University’s connection with slavery and called upon adults to empower children, Fannie J. Coppin (Oberlin graduate) and Mary McLeod Bethune established education institutions.
When Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat, she followed the paths of both Elizabeth Jennings, who sued the Third Avenue Railroad Company of New York City in 1854 and Sojourner Truth, who is credited with integrating streetcars of Washington DC because she refused to sit at the back of the streetcar. The company was sued and Truth won.
Susan Taylor of Essence Magazine; Gwen Ifill, political analyst; Charlayne Hunter-Gault, journalist; and Linda Johnson Rice of Johnson Publishing continue in the tradition of black women making a difference through their media skills. During the1850s Mary Ann Shadd Cary used her talents to denounce slavery in The Provincial Freedman while living in Canada. She also helped Osborn Perry Anderson write about his experience with John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. Later she moved back to the US, opened a school for black children, obtained a law degree and sued for the right to vote. Ida B. Wells Barnett sued the railroad for discrimination, and spent a lifetime telling the truth about lynching so the ugliness could not be hidden. Mary Church Terrell fought for women’s rights and equality after attending Oberlin College.
Before Dr. Mae Jemison made history in space, Bessie Coleman moved to France so she could learn to fly, and Janet Bragg pursued her dream to become a commercial pilot. They say the sky is the limit, and encouraging every-body to reach their potential benefits all of humanity. Acknowledging the successes of all our citizens says much about the nation. Those who realize the importance of self-fulfillment, will continue to share the stories so these pioneers, and those they’ve inspired, can continue to hope. Until next year, when new names will be added to the list, enjoy learning about some new people during this Black History Month.

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0 Responses to Some New Names in the Black History Hall of Fame

  1. Rich Alpert says:

    March is also a good time to the achievements of African Americans, in particular women, as it’s also American Women’s History Month.

    Some notable women with birthdays in March include: Blanche K. Bruce on March 1, the only African American to serve a full term in the Senate during Reconstruction. Harriet Tubman, born on March 13, became the “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, a clandestine system for helping slaves escape to freedom in the North.

    Rich Alpert, Diversity Resources, online diversity calendar publishers

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