Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America's past. These stories are about Americans - people just like you - who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you. Kate Kelly

African-American Leaders

Jackie Ormes (1911-1986), First African-American Female Cartoonist

Ormes’ comic strips were syndicated in black newspapers in the 1930s and ‘40s, making her the only nationally syndicated black woman cartoonist until the 1990s.... continue »

Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934), First Woman to Be a Bank President

Maggie Lena Walker was born in 1864 to Elizabeth Draper, a former slave who worked at the Richmond home of Elizabeth Van Lew, an abolitionist... continue »

Sgt. William Carney, Jr. (1840-1908) Medal of Honor Recipient

• Took decisive action in the Battle of Fort Wagner, earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor. • Though he is the first African-American soldier... continue »

Woman-Owned, Minority-Owned Construction Company Marks 108 Years and Counting

"The road to success is always under construction," aptly quotes Cheryl McKissack Daniel, President and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, a New York construction company... continue »

Lorraine Hansberry 3rd (1930-1965), Influential Playwright

Youngest American and first black playwright to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award First black woman to have a play on Broadway Active... continue »

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806): Astronomer, Surveyor, Scientist, Writer

African-American scientist, surveyor, author of almanacs  Benjamin Banneker was not only a contemporary of the Founding Fathers but from the evidence he left, he was... continue »

Benjamin Banneker’s Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1791

Prior to the publication of his first almanac, Benjamin Banneker decided to send a pre-publication manuscript to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, along with a... continue »

Addison Jones (ca. 1845-1926), Black Cowboy and Range Boss

Known as the most noted Negro cowboy that ever ‘topped off’ a horse Became well-known and respected in a world of anonymous cowhands Just as... continue »

Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005), Seven Terms in Congress (NY)

First African-American woman elected to Congress First woman to run for Democratic presidential nomination (1972); Margaret Chase Smith had run for Republican nomination in 1964... continue »

Ann Petry (1908-1997), Successful Novelist

One of first writers to address the experiences of black women Her book, The Street, was the first book by an African-American woman to sell... continue »

Harry S. McAlpin (1906-1985): Reporter Who Broke the Press Corps Color Line

As of January 1944 no African-American journalist had ever been admitted to a White House Press Conference. In February 1944, Harry McAlpin, a former Navy... continue »

Frances Wills and Harriet Ida Pickens, First African-American Women to become WAVES Officers (1944)

With so many men going overseas during World War II, the government needed ways to get additional help. In the Navy their solution was to... continue »