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In honor of Black History Month, I would like to thank ChicagoNow for the opportunity to let me be apart of something much bigger than myself, my opinions, and the subject matter that I correspond to each and every one of you. And the platform in which to broadcast to the world at large.
As a 26 year old black male in 2012, I appreciate the roads paved for me by those who walked this earth before me, with me, and one's who will walk I can no longer be extant on this earth.
For that reason, I have decided to compile a list of people of black heritage that you should all know about during Black History Month and beyond.
Now let's not get hasty and only celebrate the lives of any culture for just a month, no matter how short or how long.
Take time always to celebrate our diversity and freedom in which we live in the United States of America. And pray that the world at large can appreciate one another and live in peace and fortune.
10 Black People To Know During Black History Month
Political & Social
1.) W.E.B. Du Bois
Known as arguably one of the most intelligent individuals to ever live, W.E.B. Du Bois was instrumental in bringing along the process of human rights for African-American's. In a time when the despotic and abundant prejudice and bigotry towards African-Americans was not only tolerated, it was with reason and law.
Du Bois was the first African-American to earn a PH.D from Harvard University. He was also the founding member of what we know today to be the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
2.) Barack Hussein Obama
Barack Hussein Obama is the first African-American to serve as President of the United States. As our 44th President, he was born to a Kenyan father and English mother. He also served on the U.S. Senate for the state of Illinois.
3.) Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was the single most instrumental force in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950's and 1960's. His use of a nonviolent approach to atrocities of humanity granted him the honor of a Nobel Peace Prize and the inspiration of an American nation and world at large. His famous speech during the march on Washington is forever emblazoned in American history as a pivotal point in the nations history. He influenced several political policies and calls to action, most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation.
Martin Luther King was a living example that one person could change the world, with help of many.
4.) Macon Bolling Allen
Macon Bolling Allen was the first black-American Justice of the Peace (1848) and the first African-American to pass the bar and practice law in the United States (1845). He is believed to be the first black to ever hold a judiciary position in the United States, despite not being considered a citizen throughout most of his pursuit.
5.) Jane Bolin
Jane Bolin was the first black woman to become judge in the United States (1932) . She was also the first black woman to earn a law degree from Yale, the first black woman to pass the New York State bar exam and the first to join the city's law department.
Bolin worked to end segregation in child placement facilities and the assignment of probation officers based on race. She also helped create a racially integrated treatment center for delinquent boys.
6.) Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche
Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation efforts in Palestine during the 1940s, he was also the first African-American to receive the honor. He also received the Medal of Freedom from President John F. Kennedy. He was also directly involved in the building of the United Nations. Bunch was also a prominent advocate of the civil rights movement, he participated in the March on Washington, and was present during Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech.
He also attended the Selma to Montgomery march that led to the to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
7.) Christopher Gardner
Christopher Gardner's story may seem so unbelievable you think it is something that came from a movie - well - that is true, but only vice versa. Christopher Gardner, former member of the Navy was determined to find a lucrative means of employment for his new family (Christopher Jr.), was willing to live on next to nothing - in hopes of completing training for a brokerage program. After his wife and mother of his children left him, he was determined to keep his son because as he once stated,
“I made up my mind as a young kid that when I had children they were going to know who their father is, and that he isn’t going anywhere.”
In five years, after training and with just $10,000, Gardner purchased his own brokerage firm (Gardner Rich). He eventually sold his shares in the firm for several million dollars. His autobiography "Pursuit of Happyness", was turned into a blockbuster film. The film starring Will Smith went on to gross over $300mil worldwide.
Chris also helped fund $50mil to help build the homeless low-income housing and provide emnployment to homeless people in San Francisco.
8.) Eartha Kitt
Eartha Kitt was one of the first mega-stars of her time. Paving the way for the Beyonce's of today. Kitt, born on a plantation farm and conceived of land-owner/share-cropper rape, moved off the South Carolina cotton plantation and eventually to New York with her biological mother. There she started working on a career in showbusiness, reaching career peaks with a starring role in the Orson Wells film Dr. Faustus, portraying Helen of Troy.
She most notably earned the recurring role of Catwoman in the television version of Batman. But above all of her success in film in t.v., Eartha earned the most stripes as an activist and social speaker on many causes.
Eartha was utterly blacklisted from the professional community for her position on the Veitnam war and the Johnson administration's policy on the youth who fought.
"You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot."
She went on to famously quote at a White House luncheon in which Kitt was invited to speak,
The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons — and I know what it’s like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson — we raise children and send them to war.
The reaction to the comments have since been unprecedented, she was ostracized in the film community and eventually had to find work outside the United States for years.
9.) Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was Chicago's first recorded resident, founder, and curator. Although Chicago had been established before his colonization, his residence was recorded as it's first, and he stayed at the mouth of the Chicago River from years 1790-1800. This cabin Du Sable built for him, his wife and children.
This was at the time named "Checagou" by the native Indians.
Du Sable became greatly respected by the native Indian's and under the tutelage of Choctaw, he learned the skills that enabled him to open successful trading posts throughout the Lake Michigan mainland. He settled at the mouth of the Chicago River, a home built for him to settle with his wife and children, he named this Fort Dearborn (Later to be named Chicago).
Du Sable was Chicago's first recorded marriage, he also held Chicago's first elections and was the first established builder of the little known Chicago-land area from the period of 1770-1800.
As a alleged sympathizer for the American's in the American Revolution he was arrested by the British military and imprisoned on suspicion of being a spy for the American military. He then moved to St. Charles Missouri where he later died in 1818.
Despite the length of his inhabit, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was Chicago's first man.
10.) Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Henry Louis Gates Jr is an acclaimed historian, teacher, scholar, editor and public intellectual. His work on various PBS miniseries is eclipsed by his studies and distinguished intellectual achievements in the world of history and cultural studies. Gates was the first African-American to recieve the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship ( a private foundation with focus in 5 core areas ( Higher education, museums and art conservation, performing arts, conservation and the enviroment, and information technology with software development.).
He has also been asked to give the "Jefferson Lecture", this lecture is considered to be "the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities."
Gates garnered the interest of national attention when he was arrested outside his home of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The officer was responding to a call of a possible breaking and entering when Gates could not gain entrance to his home. He was arrested after a responding officer and Gates began to engage in an altercation. Newly appointed president Barack Obama responded to the situation saying the police "acted stupidly" in their apprehension of Gates.
He later invited the two to the White House to share a beer.
Share your love during black history month.