Black History - Fascinating Facts About African Americans


If you are tweeting, making conversation, or even just curious about Black History Month and the reason why African Americans treasure the tradition of remembering their history, this is a quick cheat sheet, if you will, to get you started.



o Alexander Lucius Twilight was the first black college graduate. He received a B.A. from Middlebury College in 1823.

o Ann Lowe designed the wedding dress of Jacqueline Bouvier, the bride of future president, Senator John F. Kennedy.

o Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

o Aretha Franklin is one of the most honored artists in Grammy Award history, with 20 wins to date.

o Arthur Ashe was the first African-American to win the U.S. Open in 1968.

o Arthur Mitchell opened the first African-American classical ballet company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, in 1969.

o Before he wrote Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison served as cook in the Merchant Marines during World War II.

o Bill Cosby was the first African-American to star in a network television show, “I Spy” in 1965.

o Bill Cosby's sitcom, The Cosby Show, became the highest ranking sitcom for 5 years in a row & aired for 8 years from 1984 to 1992.

o Black History Month began in 1926 in honor of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who were both born in February.

o Booker T. Washington became the first African-American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp in 1940.

o Buffalo Soldiers is a name given to the African–American cavalries during the 1800s by the Native American Kiowa tribe.

o C.B. Brooks invented the street sweeper in 1896.

o Charles R. Drew is often credited with the invention of the first large-scale blood bank.

o Charley Pride was the first African-American to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

o Coleman Alexander Young, received the 66th NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1981 for the magnificent job he did as mayor of Detroit, MI.

o Condoleezza Rice was the first African-American woman to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State.

o David Crosthwait, Jr. created the heating systems for the Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.

o Dr. George Franklin Grant received a patent for the world's first golf tee in 1899.

o Dr. Maulana Karenga created the African-American holiday, Kwanzaa, in 1966.

o Ella Fitzgerald became the first African-American woman to earn a Grammy Award.

o Ella Fitzgerald had a three-octave range - a range greater than most professional Opera singers.

o Florence "Flo Jo" Griffith-Joyner set the world record for the 100 and 200 meter dash at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.

o Garrett Augustus Morgan invented the gas mask.

o H. Pickett, inventor, patented the Scaffold on this date in 1874. Patent # 152,511.

o Harriet Ann Jacobs slavery in 1835 & published Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl in 1861 under the name Linda Brent.

o Hattie McDaniel was first African-American to win the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1939.

o In 1897, African-American inventor, Alfred Cralle patented the first ice cream scoop in 1897.

o In 1989, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the first African-American elected governor in U.S. history.

o In 1995 Maya Angelou was the first writer to spend two years on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List.

o Jane Bolin became the first black woman to become a judge in the United States in 1932.

o Jay-Z allegedly got his name as a reference to New York's J/Z subway lines in his Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, neighborhood.

o Jazz, an African–American musical form born out of the Blues, Ragtime, and marching bands originated in Louisiana during the turn of the 19th century

o Jennifer Jackson was the first African-American Playboy’s Playmate of the Month featured in March 1965.

o Jocelyn Elders was the first African-American to serve as Surgeon General of the United States.

o John Love invented the pencil sharpener in 1897.

o Joseph Winters invented a fire escape ladder in 1878.

o L.P. Ray invented the dustpan in 1897.

o Lonnie G. Johnson performed spacecraft system design for NASA, invented the Super Soaker water gun—the number one selling toy in America in 1991.

o Louis Armstrong bought his first coronet at the age of 7 with money he borrowed from his employers. He taught himself to play while in a home for juvenile delinquents.

o M. Jocelyn Elders was the first African-American, and the second woman, to serve as the United States Surgeon General.

o Macon Bolling Allen was the first African-American to pass the bar and practice law in the United States in 1845.

o Madame C.J. Walker (1876 - 1919) invented specialized hair products for African-American hair and became the first American woman to become a millionaire.

o Marian Anderson was the first African-American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1955.

o Michael Jackson, co-wrote the single "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie. The single donated millions of dollars to famine relief in Africa.

o Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team for being undersized.

o Muhammad Ali was originally named after his father, who was named after the 19th century abolitionist and politician Cassius Marcellus Clay.

o Nat 'King' Cole, a was the first African-American to host a national television program, The Nat King Cole Show, in 1956.

o Oprah Winfrey became the first black female TV host of a show (The Oprah Winfrey Show). The show aired from 1986 to 2011.

o Oprah Winfrey became the first female U.S. billionaire in 2003.

o Phillis Wheatley was the first published African-American poet with her 1774 collection, Poems on Various Subjects.

o Quincy Jones is the most Grammy-nominated artist in the history of the awards with 76 nominations and 26 awards.

o Ray Charles (1930 – 2004) was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural ceremony in 1986.

o Rebecca Lee Crumpler graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864; the first black woman to receive an M.D.

o Rita Dove is the second African-American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, an award she received in 1987.

o Robert Johnson, the owner of Black Entertainment Television, became the first black billionaire in America in 2001.

o Sci-fi author Octavia Butler was dyslexic. She won two Hugo awards and two Nebulas for her writing.

o Slavery was abolished in New York City on this date in 1827.

o The 1st interracial kiss seen on network TV was on Star Trek in 1968 between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner.

o The first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor was Louis Gossett, Jr. in the 1982.

o The first university owned and operated by African-Americans is Wilberforce College, in Wilberforce, Ohio.

o The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots in the U.S. armed forces.

o Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

o Tiger Woods (1975 - ) is the youngest person and the first African-American to win the Masters Tournament in 1997.

o Toni Morrison, was the first African-American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 for her work, Beloved.

o W.E.B. Du Bois established the first sociology department in the U.S.

o Wilma Rudolph (1940 -1994) not only overcame polio but broke world records in three Olympic track events.




Get these and more fascinating Black History facts from these sources:
o http://www.biography.com/tv/classroom/black-history-little-known-facts
o http://www.history.com/topics/black-history-facts
o http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_history
o http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/
o http://www.factmonster.com/spot/bhm1.html

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