Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who went on to become a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Born a slave her name was Araminta Rose, but she later adopted her mother’s first name of Harriet. Along with being a leading abolitionist, Harriet was a nurse and a Union spy who happened to be illiterate. During her time in the Underground Railroad it has been said that she led at least 70 slaves to freedom.
Ella Fitzgerald was one of the most popular female jazz singers of all time. Coming from a troubled childhood, Fitzgerald entered a contest in which she sung for the first time in her life. After that experience music became her outlet. During her life she won 13 Grammy awards being the first African-American to win a Grammy, sold over 40 million albums and won the National Medal of Arts. Her music was admired by all, rich, poor, young and old and continues to be an inspiration today.
Jackie Robinson was a baseball player who became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. He broke the color barrier the day he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. While an avid athlete, Robinson was also a social advocate. He used his celebrity status to fundraise for freedom riders as well as being on the board for the NAACP. Robinson was an inspiration to many and in his honor the number 42 has been retired for all major Baseball Teams.
Matthew Henson was an African-American explorer. He is famous for accompanying Robert Peary to the Arctic on multiple occasions. In fact, he says he was the first person ever to have reached the North Pole. However, Peary ended up getting all the credit for the expedition. When Henson was 70 years old, his achievements were finally recognized and he was given an award from the U.S Navy and a gold medal from the Chicago Geographic Society.
Rosa Parks is most famous for refusing to give up her seat to a white rider while on the bus. This moment catapulted the Montgomery Bus Boycott which resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public busses was unconstitutional. Parks had always been ingrained in civil rights as she was a longtime member of the NAACP. Today she is called the “mother of the civil rights movement” and continues to be recognized for her work.
Michelle and Barack Obama
The Obamas were the first family of color to occupy the White House. Barack was the 44th President of the United States and his historic win was a huge step for people of color across the nation. Michelle Obama has become one of the most loved First Ladies and continues to be a leader for young women today. The Obamas gave us a new picture of what Americas leaders could look like and they will forever go down in history.