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African-American Leaders

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 »

Dorothy Dandridge, First African American Nominated for a Best-Actress Oscar

Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) was a successful actress and singer. She started performing as a child in local variety shows, and then eventually made a career... continue »

Black America: An 1895 Stage Extravaganza for the North

Black America was the brainchild of Nate Salsbury (1846-1902), the man who was also behind the very successful, long-running Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. In... continue »

Marshall Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist

Marshall “Major” Taylor (1878-1932) was a champion cyclist who set numerous world records and was the first African-American cyclist to become an international sports star.... continue »

Marie Van Brittan Brown: Home Security System Inventor

Marie Van Brittan Brown and her husband, Albert, created an early closed-circuit television system to be used for home monitoring.  That security system was the... continue »

Gordon Parks, Extraordinary Photojournalist

Gordon Parks, best-remembered as a gifted photojournalist, was also an author, composer and film director, achieving remarkable success in each field. His journalistic platform in Life magazine... continue »

Ebony Fashion Fair and Eunice Johnson

Eunice Johnson (1916-2010) and her husband, John H. Johnson (1918-2005) created a... continue »

Harlem Hellfighters: Black Soldiers in World War I

The “Harlem Hellfighters” was a name acquired by an all-black military unit from Harlem that fought during World War I.  Officially, they were the 369th Infantry.... continue »

Ethel Payne, Ground-Breaking Black Female Journalist

Ethel Payne made a name for herself as a tireless black journalist who was willing to ask tough questions about segregation and civil rights. She... continue »

Morrie Turner: Creator of Wee Pals Comic Strip

Morris “Morrie” Turner grew up dreaming of being a cartoonist, yet he knew the profession was dominated by white men. Despite that, Turner went on... continue »