Since February 1970, when the first celebration took place, Black History Month has continuously been set aside to reflect and learn about the many achievements and contributions of people of Black heritage. It is an opportunity for those of African descent, as well as those who are not of African descent, to see how much stronger and better America is as a result of Black people’s efforts.
We have put together a list of 15 little-known Black history facts that you should and will most likely appreciate.
- Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to be elected to Congress in the United States. She was also the first African-American woman to run for president, receiving 10% of the vote at the Democratic National Convention in 1972 but failing to gain the nomination. During her presidential campaign, she had to withstand three assassination attempts.
- Madame C.J. Walker ascended the ranks to become the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. She accomplished this by creating a hair care company based on her own and others’ needs. She devoted her life traveling the country to teach African-American women about appropriate hair care and to promote her products. She established a factory to produce and develop many of today’s hair care products.
- In 1992, Mae C. Jemison became the first African-American woman to travel to space. She was also a medical doctor and a talented dancer, in addition to becoming an astronaut.
- Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for her role as “Mammy” in Gone With the Wind (1939), for which she won Best Supporting Actress. The national film premiere, on the other hand, took place in Atlanta. She was unable to attend the ceremony because of Georgia’s Jim Crow laws.
- The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, very often known as the “Six Triple Eight,” was a one-of-a-kind US Army unit that was the only all-African American, all-female battalion dispatched overseas during World War II. The ladies ensured that over seven million soldiers in the European Theater of Operations received mail (ETO). Major Charity Adams headed the 6888th, which comprised 855 black women enlisted and officers.
- Ralph Bunche was the first African-American to win the Nobel Prize for Peace. His Nobel Prize was presented in acknowledgment of his work during the late 1940s Arab-Israeli conflict. Bunche negotiated the 1949 Armistice Agreements as the UN’s principal mediator for the conflict. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.
- Sarah Boone was the first woman of African-American descent to receive a patent. She built a niche that made her famous as a dressmaker by creating the contemporary ironing board, which was approved in 1892.
- Matthew Henson and Robert Peary landed on the real North Pole on April 9, 1909, making Mathew a significant participant in the first successful North Pole expedition. The two had attempted such missions before, but they had all failed, including one in which six members of the expedition crew starved of food shortages. Henson and Peary continued to explore the arctic for another two decades. However, because it was the early 1900s, Henson was barely recognized when they returned home until 1912, when he released A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, a book about his Arctic exploits. Henson did not get the National Geographic Hubbard Medal until 2000, after his death.
- The first African-American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest was Anna Murray. In 1947, she coined the concept “Jane Crow” to describe how discrimination against Black people, particularly and adversely affecting Black women, and how sexism and racism colluded to afflict Black women. She went on to join the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and contribute to the increasing conversation on the notion of racial and gender-based discrimination.
- Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Black Wall Street was bombed and burned down on June 1, 1921, killing over 300 people. There were 600 black-owned enterprises in this town of 15,000 people. In the early 1900s, Tulsa, Oklahoma was home to one of the wealthiest African American communities in the country, because it was populated by African American physicians, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, the neighborhood was called Black Wall Street. The neighborhood was never the same again.
- Because of Richard and Mildred’s love in 1967, the United States’ prohibition on interracial marriage was lifted. After being advised by Virginia state officials that marrying would be against the law since Richard was white and Mildred was not, they married. Mildred was arrested after they married. When she was ultimately released, Robert Kennedy advised the couple to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU, which paved the way for the repeal of anti-miscegenation statutes. Loving v. Virginia was brought to the Supreme Court after making its way through municipal and state courts, and the laws on interracial marriage were declared unconstitutional. Which turned out to be a significant triumph for the couple.
- South African Saartji (Sarah) Baartman was cruelly abused and exposed as a freak show attraction because of her large buttocks. Her body was dissected and displayed in Paris for more than a century after her death, until 1974. Her remains were returned to her community in 2002 and laid to rest.
- When he passed the bar in Ohio in 1854, John Mercer Langston became the first Black lawyer. When he was chosen Town Clerk in Brownhelm, Ohio, in 1855, he became one of the first African Americans to hold a public office in the United States. Langston Hughes, the famous Harlem Renaissance poet, was John Mercer Langston’s great-uncle.
- When he sold the cable network he founded, Black Entertainment Television (BET), in 2001, Robert Louis Johnson became the first African American billionaire. He is also the first African-American majority owner of a major American professional sports franchise.
- When Vermont approved its first constitution and became an independent country in July 1777, it became the first colony to abolish slavery, a position it retained until its admission to the union as the 14th state of the United States in 1791.