In honor of Black History Month here’s a list of 15 interesting facts and achievements in African American history:
- Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall said he was punished for misbehavior in school by being forced to recite the Constitution and ultimately memorizing it. Marshall was the first African American ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and served on the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991.
- African-American fashion designer Ann Lowe designed the wedding dress of Jacqueline Bouvier, who became Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, the bride of future President John F. Kennedy.
- Chemist and scholar Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. became the first black man to be trained as an astronaut.
- John Arthur “Jack” Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion, patented a wrench in 1922.
- Alexandre Dumas, who is of Haitian descent, is one of the most widely read French writers. His works have been translated into nearly 100 languages. Many of his historical novels of high adventure were originally published as serials, including such literary classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
- Phillis Wheatley became the first published African-American poet in 1774 with her collection of “Poems on Various Subjects”, a work of distinction that looked to many literary classical traditions.
- 44th President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama has won two Grammy Awards. He was first honored in 2005 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams from My Father (best spoken word album), and received his second Grammy (in the same category) in 2007 for his political work, The Audacity of Hope.
- Garrett Morgan, Inventor of the three-way traffic signal, also became the first African-American to own a car in Cleveland Ohio.
- In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor During her 8-day mission she worked with U.S. and Japanese researchers, and was co-investigator on a bone cell experiment.
- In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award (the film industry’s highest honor) for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone With the Wind.
- George Washington Carver developed 300 derivative products from peanuts, among them, cheese, milk, coffee, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils and cosmetics.
- Scientist and mathematician Benjamin Banneker is credited with helping to design the blueprints for Washington D.C.
- Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. A frontier trader, trapper and farmer of Haitian descent, is generally regarded as the first permanent settler in Chicago. The place where he settled near the mouth of the Chicago River around the 1780’s is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, now located in Pioneer Court.
- Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting rights activist, women’s rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the African-American civil rights movement. She was also an author of “This Little Light of Mine”: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer.
- Thomas Alexandre Dumas was a general in Revolutionary France and the highest-ranking man of African descent ever in a European army. He was the first person of color in the French military to become Brigadier General, the first to become Divisional General and the first to become General-in-Chief of a French army.
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