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African-American Leaders

Grace Wisher, African American Helped Make Star Spangled Banner

Grace Wisher, age 13, was an indentured servant in the home of flag maker Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore. Pickersgill, who had taken over the business... continue »

The Triple Nickles: Army’s First Black Paratroopers

The Triple Nickles, as the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was known, were a remarkable, highly-disciplined company of African American paratroopers who paved the way for... continue »

Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell: Fashion Model, Entrepreneur, Publisher

Ophelia DeVore was only 16 when she began modeling. As a light-skinned black woman she found employment, but her experiences showed her how difficult it... continue »

Bessie Blount Griffin, Physical Therapist and Inventor

Bessie Blount (1914-2009) was a physical therapist who worked with injured soldiers during World War II. She recognized their need and desire to do more on... continue »

Black Jockey Hall of Famer Isaac Burns Murphy

Isaac Burns Murphy (1861-1896) is considered one of the all-time great jockeys in Thoroughbred racing.  He was the first black jockey to be inducted into... continue »

Kenny Washington: Broke Color Line in NFL

Kenny Washington (1918-1971) was the first African American to sign with an NFL team after a 13-year unspoken pact among owners to bar black football... continue »

Septima Clark Founded Citizenship Schools

Septima Clark (1898-1987) was an educator and civil rights activist. She established Citizenship Schools that transformed the South by increasing the number of African Americans... continue »

Martin Luther King Jr. on The Declaration of Independence

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left us with many inspirational thoughts, so it is never easy to pick just one. However, recently, I came upon... continue »

Harlem Hellfighter Receives Congressional Medal of Honor Posthumously

Henry Lincoln Johnson (1897-1929), who served valiantly as part of the 369th regiment (known as the Harlem Hellfighters) received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously... continue »

Why Emancipation Day is Held April 16 in Washington, D.C.

Slaveholding was still a way of life for some residents of Washington, D.C. even after the Civil War began.  But in 1862 that changed. The... continue »

James Reese Europe: Bandleader Who Popularized Jazz and Ragtime

James Reese Europe (1880-1919) was a gifted musician who achieved numerous firsts in bringing African-American musicians and music into the mainstream.  As a conductor and... continue »

Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole

Matthew Henson (1866-1955) was hired by explorer Robert Peary (1856-1920) to be his valet; Peary saw in the young man the potential to be an... continue »