Black History Month, which is celebrated every February in the United States, is a time to recognize and honor the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. There are many black icons who have helped shape America into the country it is today.
Black History Month
These are 10 of the most influential individuals in American history, who have had a lasting impact on the country through their activism, leadership, creativity, and innovation.
Martin Luther King Jr.
A Baptist minister and civil rights leader, King is perhaps best known for his role in the American civil rights movement and for his advocacy for nonviolent resistance. He is best remembered for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered in 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Known as the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement,” Parks was an activist who also refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. Her act of civil disobedience also sparked a boycott that lasted for more than a year and also led to the desegregation of public transportation in the city.
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An escaped slave and abolitionist, Tubman was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by escaped slaves to reach freedom in the North. She was also a spy for the Union army during the Civil War and worked for women’s suffrage in her later years.
A Muslim minister and human rights activist, Malcolm X was an outspoken critic of the Civil Rights Movement’s emphasis on nonviolence and advocated for black nationalism and self-defense. He was also assassinated in 1965.
An author, poet, and civil rights activist, Angelou was one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. Her groundbreaking works, including the 1969 autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” have had a profound impact on American literature and culture.
South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist, Mandela was a key figure in the struggle against apartheid and became South Africa’s first black president in 1994. He is also widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest political leaders.
The 44th president of the United States and the first African American to hold the office, Obama is also a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. During his presidency, he also oversaw major reforms in the areas of health care, finance, and foreign policy.
A Major League Baseball player, Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 when he became the first African American to play in the modern era of the sport. He also went on to have a successful career and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
A former slave, abolitionist, and suffragist, Douglass was one of the most prominent voices in the anti-slavery movement of the 19th century. He was also a powerful orator and wrote several books, including his famous 1845 autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.”
A Nobel Prize-winning author, Morrison is also widely regarded as one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century. Her works, including “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye,” also address issues of race, gender, and the African American experience.
# Black History Month