GUION STEWART BLUFORD JR., (born November 22, 1942), (Col, USAF, Ret.), is an American aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and former NASA astronaut, who was the first African American in space, (but not the first African American astronaut). Before becoming an astronaut, he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to NASA. He participated in four Space Shuttle flights between 1983 and 1992. In 1983, as a member of the crew of the Orbiter Challenger on the mission STS-8, he became the first African-American in space as well as the second person of African ancestry in space, after Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.
MAE CAROL JEMISON (born October 17, 1956) is an American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. After her medical education and a brief general practice, Jemison served in the Peace Corps from 1985 to 1987, when she was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps. She resigned from NASA in 1993 to form a company researching the application of technology to daily life. She has appeared on television several times, including as an actress in an episode of Star Trek. She is a dancer and holds nine honorary doctorates.
SARAH BREEDLOVE (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), known as Madame C.J. Walker, was an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the first female self-made millionaire in America. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.
OPRAH GAIL WINFREY, born January 29, 1954, is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”, she has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is now North America’s first and only multi-billionaire African American. Several assessments regard her as the most influential woman in the world.
SIR SIDNEY POITIER born February 20, 1927), is a Bahamian-American actor, film director, author and diplomat. In 1964, Poitier became the first Bahamian and first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role in Lilies of the Field. The significance of these achievements was bolstered in 1967, when he starred in three successful films, all of which dealt with issues involving race and race relations: To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of classic Hollywood cinema, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.
HATTIE MCDANIEL (June 10, 1895 – October 26, 1952) was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedienne. She is best known for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939) for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African American to win an Academy Award. In addition to acting in many films, McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only 80 or so. McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood for her contributions in radio and acting in motion pictures. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the first black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp.
Born Isabella [Belle] Baumfree; c. 1797 – November 26, 1883), SOJOURNER TRUTH was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826.
She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside "testifying the hope that was in her". Her best-known speech was delivered at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title "Ain't I a Woman?," a variation of the original speech re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect; whereas Sojourner Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war.
In 2014, Truth was included in Smithsonian magazine's list of the "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time".
MUHAMMAD ALI (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.) January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. Nicknamed "The Greatest", he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century, and as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Clay began training as an amateur boxer at age 12. At age 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics, and turned professional later that year. He converted to Islam after 1961, and eventually took the name Muhammad Ali. At age 22, in 1964, he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in a major upset.
In 1966, Ali refused to be drafted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs, and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was arrested, found guilty of draft evasion charges, and stripped of his boxing titles. He successfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned this conviction in 1971. Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation, and he was a high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans during the civil rights movement.
EARL FRANCIS LLOYD (April 3, 1928 – February 26, 2015) was an American professional basketball player and coach. He was the first black player to have played a game in the National Basketball Association. An All-American player at West Virginia State University, Lloyd helped lead the Syracuse Nationals to the NBA Championship in 1955. Lloyd was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.
Nicknamed "The Big Cat", Lloyd was one of three black players to enter the NBA at the same time, including Chuck Cooper and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton.
Lloyd played in over 560 games in nine seasons, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward played in only seven games for the Washington Capitols before the team folded in 1951. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, before the Syracuse Nationals picked him up. Lloyd fought in the Korean War before coming back to basketball. In the 1953–54 season, Lloyd led the NBA in both personal fouls and disqualifications.
Lloyd spent six seasons with Syracuse and two with the Detroit Pistons before retiring in 1961.
NAT TURNER (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an African-American slave who led a two-day rebellion of slaves and free blacks in Southampton County, Virginia on August 21, 1831.
The rebels went from plantation to plantation, gathering horses and guns, freeing other slaves along the way, and recruiting other blacks who wanted to join their revolt. During the rebellion, Virginia legislators targeted free blacks with a colonization bill, which allocated new funding to remove them, and a police bill that denied free blacks trials by jury and made any free blacks convicted of a crime subject to sale into slavery and relocation.
In the aftermath, the state tried those accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion: 18 were executed, 14 were transported out of state, and several were acquitted. Turner hid for two months; but when found, he was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, hanged and possibly beheaded.
CRISPUS ATTUCKS (c.1723 – March 5, 1770) was an American stevedore (dock laborer) of African and Native American descent, widely regarded as the first person killed in the Boston massacre and thus the first American killed in the American Revolution. Historians disagree on whether he was a free man or an escaped slave, but most agree that he was of Wampanoag and African descent.
Attucks became an icon of the anti-slavery movement in the mid-19th century. Supporters of the abolition movement lauded him for playing a heroic role in the history of the United States.