African-American Leaders

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 black 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 »

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

One of the first African American frontiersmen Prominent figure of the American West First “mountain man” to document his story in a book (1856)  James... 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 »