Celebrating Your Story

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The 761st Tank Battalion (1942-1944) was one of the first groups of African-American soldiers to fight in World War II.

From the south, the Black Panthers, with little training, landed in France and went above and beyond the call of duty. Learn more about these heroes that you may or may not know:

 

Paul Cuffee (1758-1817) was a determined ship captain, businessman and philanthropist who became one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his time. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Henry Jackson Lewis (1837-1891) was one of the first published African-American political cartoonists. Although not a trained artist, he said what was on his mind through his cartoons. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Granville T Woods (1856-1910) was an inventor and businessman who improved the railway and telephone system. He was able to patent numerous inventions and was known as the “Black Edison.” Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Susan McKinney Steward (1847-1918) defied racism and sexism to become one of the first female doctors in America. She was a doctor, scholar and community leader who paved the way and provided options for women. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Sylvia Olden Lee (1917-2004) was a vocal coach and accompanist who worked with some of the great names in opera and Negro spirituals. She was influential behind the scenes, helping others pursue their dreams. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Fritz Pollard (1894-1986) established himself as a star in professional football and then as an entrepreneur. He was the first African American in many areas of football as both a player and coach, and went on to establish many successful businesses. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Jester Hairston (1901-2000) was a composer, conductor and actor with one of the longest careers in entertainment. He contributed over 70 years to American arts and entertainment and composed numerous songs used throughout the entertainment world. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837-1913) was an educator who became the first African-American superintendent, the first African-American female principal and the namesake of Coppin State University. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

William Washington Browne (1849-1897) was born on a plantation in Georgia and became a community leader and an exceptional businessman who opened the first Black bank. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Ella Baker (1903-1986) was a civil rights leader and activist who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. She was the backbone of many human rights and civil rights organizations and a motivator and mentor to all. In 2009, Ella was honored on a U.S. postage stamp. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

James Derham (1757-1802) went from being a slave to being the first African American to formally practice medicine in the United States — though he never received an M.D. degree. He learned much of his skill from his first three masters, who were doctors. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Moneta Sleet (1926-1996) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer from the civil rights era. He worked for 44 years as a photographer for Ebony magazine. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Ben Hooks (1925-2010) was a preacher, judge and civil rights leader who pushed for progress everywhere he went. He went on to become the executive director of the NAACP and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951) was one of the first African-American filmmakers. He wrote, directed and produced movies in the 1920s. He created 44 films with African Americans in lead roles. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

John Bubbles (1902-1986) was an actor, singer and dancer who revolutionized tap. He was the first African American to perform at Radio City Music Hall and one of the first African Americans on TV. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Lewis Latimer (1848-1928), a draftsman and inventor, was influential in the approval of many patents and inventions that had the goal of improving people’s everyday lives. One of his most noted contributions was an improvement to the light bulb. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Pearl Primus (1919-1994) was a dancer, choreographer and anthropologist who built the foundation for African dance in America. After beginning her studies to be a medical doctor, she eventually earned a PhD in Dance Education and became a pioneer of African Dance in the United States. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Hiram Revels (1827-1901) was an educator and minister who became the first African-American to serve in the United States Senate. His true passions were preaching, teaching and proving that you can do anything. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

John Mercer Langston (1829-1897) was the first of many things — lawyer, politician, abolitionist, educator — and helped open the door to others after him. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones (1868-1933) was an African-American soprano and one of the greatest opera voices of her generation. Learn more about this hero that you may or may not know:

 

Chrisette Michele (1982-present) is an American R&B and soul singer/songwriter. She won a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in 2009 for her song “Be OK.” Chrisette shares her story through her influences, her journey and her image.

 

 

And in a behind-the-scenes video, Chrisette discusses different types of success.

 

Cornelius Cooper Johnson (1913-1946) won the gold medal in high jump in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

 

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Samuel Cornish (1795-1858) was a minister, businessman and journalist committed to equality and progress. John Russworm (1799-1851) was one of the first African Americans to graduate from college in the 1800s. Together, they edited Freedom's Journal, the first newspaper owned and run by African Americans.

 

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Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893) was an abolitionist, activist, lawyer and educator who founded an integrated school and a newspaper before becoming the first Black woman to vote in a national election.

 

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Video Length: 1:31

Ira Aldridge (1807-1867) was an African-American actor who became Britain's first classical actor and a Shakespearean master. He is the only actor of African-American descent honored with bronze plaques at Stratford-upon-Avon's Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.

 

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Mary Elizabeth Bowser (1839-?) was an American freed slave who worked as a Union spy during the Civil War.

 

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Len Burnett and Brett Wright, CEOs and founders of Uptown and Vibe magazines, discuss their journey and give advice in this introductory video (2:31).

 

 

In this behind-the-scenes video, Brett talks about the importance of both success and failure (41 seconds).

 

Philip A. Payton (1876-1917) was a real estate entrepreneur who helped African Americans live and own in Harlem.

 

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