African-American Leaders

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 »

James Pierson Beckwourth (1798-1866): Explorer and Frontiersman

Played major role in settling of the American West One of the first African-American frontiersmen Only “mountain man” to document his story in a book... continue »

Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907): Sculptor Who Achieved International Fame

Showed great talent in art and broke ground in a field that was not welcoming to women or people of color. Inspired generations of artists... continue »

James Derham (ca. 1762-1802?), First Black Physician

James Derham was the first African-American to practice medicine in the United States. Born in Philadelphia, Derham started life as a slave. He was owned... continue »

Althea Gibson, “Unlikely Champion” of Tennis

First player to break color barrier in tennis Won 56 tennis tournaments, including five Grand Slam singles titles First African American Wimbledon champion and first... continue »

A Brief Note about Black History Month

From physician Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1833-1895) and businessman Reginald Lewis (1942-1993) to cartoonist Jackie Ormes (1911-1986) and architect Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), Black History Month... continue »

Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), Los Angeles-based Architect

One of Southern California’s signature architects First certified African American architect west of the Mississippi Designed hundreds of public and private places When Paul Revere... continue »

Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818-1891), Businesswoman and Philanthropist

• One of the first African-Americans to own land in Los Angeles • Smart businesswoman who donated generously Bridget "Biddy" Mason was born in 1818.... continue »

Bill Pickett (ca 1870-1932), African American Cowboy

Successful showman and cowboy Invented the art of "bulldogging" “Almost totally missing from the traditional history of the American West is the role of the... continue »