This blog post features the importance of Black History Month, 28 figures for 28 days, and ways you can get involved through support, donations, and events.
We celebrate Black History Month as a way to honor the people and events that made important contributions to the advancement of America. This month serves as a powerful reminder of the hardship, aspirations, and accomplishments of those who took risks for the betterment of people who continue to face racism and injustice today. Black history is American History and Black People are essential to the progression of America as a whole. Join us in recognizing, acknowledging, and celebrating the contributions and struggles of African American figures in history and today.
28 Figures for 28 Days
1753 – 1784
Sold into slavery from West Africa at a young age, she gained literacy at age 9 and became the first African American woman to publish a book of poetry.
1797 – 1883
An abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Truth was born into slavery, but escaped with her infant daughter in 1826 and sued for the return of her son, who was illegally sold into slavery. She is famous for her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, which challenged racial and gender inequality.
1832 – 1914
Born a slave, she was freed after slavery became outlawed in 1865 and became the first African American woman to work for the US postal service. Her reliability and speed earned her the nickname “Stagecoach Mary”. She was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses and never missed a day of work.
1839 – 1871
An influential civil rights activist that fought to abolish slavery. He was significant in successfully desegregating Philadelphia’s public trolleys and the ratification of the 15th amendment, which barred voter discrimination based on race. He was murdered on the first election day that African Americans were allowed to vote.
From slave to sailor to congressman, Smalls is most notable for his extreme bravery and skill in commandeering a confederate ship to deliver 16 black men, women, and children from the shackles of slavery to freedom.
1856 – 1931
An African American surgeon who performed the first successful heart surgery in 1893 in Chicago’s Provident Hospital. The hospital he founded in 1891 became the first non-segregated hospital in the US.
1866 – 1955
An African American explorer who voyaged to the arctic with Robert Peary to discover the North Pole. He, along with Peary and four Inuit assistants, became the first human beings to set foot on the North Pole.
1867 – 1919
Famed for being the first female and African American self-made millionaire, she is also revered for being a social and political activist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. In the early 20th century, she became extremely successful by creating a line of popular hair care and beauty products for African Americans.
1869 – 1957
Another self-made millionaire, Malone was an inventor, chemist, philanthropist, and businesswoman who made her fortune developing a hair product to straighten African American women’s hair without damaging it.
1870 – 1943
Cofounder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, she is famous for being an educator, administrator, and activist. She fought for African Americans to serve as American Red Cross nurses during WWI and became one of the first nurses to be inducted into the American Nurse Association Hall of Fame when it was established in 1976.
1892 – 1926
The first African and Native American woman to hold an international pilot license. She was known for performing dangerous stunts and tricks. Her goal was to encourage African Americans and women to follow their dreams.
1904 – 1950
A surgeon and medical researcher in the field of blood transfusions and storage. He used his knowledge to develop large scale blood banks during World War II. Before his death, he trained a generation of black physicians at Howard University.
1912 – 2006
An African American inventor most noted for her 1957 invention of the sanitary belt for women, a precursor invention for sanitary pads. She holds the record for the most patents (5) awarded to a Black woman by the US government.
1912 – 2006
A prominent figure in photojournalism in the 40s through 70s. He used his authorship, poetry, directing, composing, and photography skills to combat the issues of civil rights and poverty experienced by African Americans.
1913 – 1919
The most celebrated all-black infantry regiment of the NY Army National Guard during WWI and II. Even with being largely disadvantaged by being issued inferior weapons and uniforms, as well as being treated as second-class soldiers, they still prevailed with remarkable feats. They spent more time in continuous combat than any other American unit and suffered more casualties than the other American regiments. Their extraordinary courage and skills were awarded the highly coveted Croix de Guerre medal by the French Government.
1920 – 1951
Before being diagnosed with cervical cancer, Lacks admitted herself to Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment, one of the few hospitals that treated African Americans at the time. After a biopsy, it was discovered that her cells were unlike others in that they doubled every 20 to 24 hours. These HeLa cells were used, without her consent, to study the use and effects of toxins, drugs, viruses, cancer, radiation, human genome, and more. Her cells continue to impact the world today by playing a crucial role in the development of polio and COVID-19 vaccines.
1923 – 2014
The first African American athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in thehigh jump.
1925 – 1963
An American civil rights activist in Mississippi, World War II veteran, and state field secretary for the NAACP. Evers worked tirelessly to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. He was assassinated by a white supremacist in 1963. His death sparked numerous civil rights protests.
1928 – 2014
A famous civil rights activist, singer, memoirist, and poet. She has published several poetry books, seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and a multitude of plays, movies, and television shows that focus on the defense and celebration of Black culture. She is notably famous for her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”.
1931 – 1989
A famous activist, dancer, choreographer, and director who expressed himself and the African American experience through dance. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which became a haven for nurturing Black and brown artists and dancers.
1939 – present
Nine months before Rosa Parks’ famous protest, this 15-year-old girl refused to give up her seat to a white woman on the bus. She later became one of four plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case, ruling that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional.
1950 – present
A pioneer in the healthcare field for both female physicians and African Americans, she became the first and youngest African American woman neurosurgeon in the US in 1981.
1954 – present
At age 6, Ruby Bridges made history by being the first African American student to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana. In 1999 she established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to create positive change in education by promoting integration and ending racism and bullying. In 2000, she was made an honorary deputy marshal in Washington, DC.
1956 – present
The very first black woman to travel to space in 1992. She is an engineer, NASA astronaut, and physician. As an activist, she continues to advocate for diversity in the field of science, as well as encourage young people to pursue careers in science and medicine.
1980 – present
Since taking on her first professional tennis event at the age of 14. Williams grew to become a champion in women’s tennis winning four Olympic gold medals, sixteen Grand Slam doubles titles, and seven Grand Slam singles titles. Due to her health issues, she moved into the world of fashion, by creating her company EleVen. Even still, along with her sister Serena, they are both considered two of the greatest tennis players of all time.
1981 – present
As the world’s number one player, Williams revolutionized women’s tennis by winning 23 major singles titles and four gold medals in the Olympics.
1985 – 2019
Also known as Ermias Asghedom, Hussle was an African American activist, entrepreneur, and rapper in Los Angeles, CA. During his short lifetime, he focused on giving back to his community, inspiring young black men, denouncing gun violence, and more. The day before his death, he was to meet with LAPD officials to address gang violence in Southern LA.
1986 – present
An expert viral immunologist working as one of NIH’s leading scientists in vaccine research for coronavirus protection and treatment. She and her team designed the backbone for many of the COVID-19 vaccines including Moderna, J&J, and Novavax vaccines.
Explore the resources below to learn how to support local black-owned businesses.
The directory features the breadth and depth of Black enterprise in Gainesville and highlights everything from brand-new businesses to those around for decades. It also includes businesses that closed their doors.
Food, culture and community-building are indivisibly intertwined in Gainesville. In honor of Black History Month, the Avenue has compiled a list of some of the Black-owned restaurants, food trucks and cafés in Gainesville.
Alachua County has a deep-rooted cultural history that includes instances of racial injustices that span back to slavery and lynching — something that present community leaders are trying to atone for. Nothing brings communities together like a shared meal, so in the name of unity for all of Gainesville’s residents, we compiled a list of several Black-owned food businesses.
There are so many amazing, impactful, and unique organizations and charities to support in the African American Community. Browse the numerous resources below to find a Black-led organization you’d like to donate to:
No plans this month? Discover events happening in your area below:
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