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10 Black People to Learn About This Black History Month

Every year, the same people are recognized around this time for Black History Month. We hear about Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and more, but it’s important to acknowledge the accomplishments of others. Here is a list of 10 black people you can learn more about to celebrate this month.

  1. Jane Bolin


Jane Bolin was a woman of firsts. In 1931, she became the first African-American to graduate with a law degree from Yale Law School. She was the first Black woman to hold a position as Assistant Corporate Counsel. In 1939, she made groundbreaking history as the first African-American woman judge in the United States.

2.  Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche 

A U.N. Diplomat, Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his peacekeeping efforts regarding the Arab-Israeli war. Bunche was the first African-American to win this prestigious award. He was also a professor and civil rights activist.

3. Claudette Colvin

At age 15, Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. Although Colvin’s arrest came before that of Rosa Parks, her age and the fact that she was a teen mother led the NAACP to decide against using her to advocate against segregation laws. Because of this, Colvin’s story is often lost among the millions of other similar stories from the Civil Rights Era.

4. Marsha P. Johnson 

Marsha P. Johnson was an African-American transwoman known well for the Stonewall riots and her activism for the LGBT community. Johnson was a major part of New York City’s LGBT scene in the 1960s, and in 1970, she founded S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite* Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera. The organization aimed to provide food, shelter, and a community for young transgender people.

(*now “Transgender”)

5. Audre Lorde 

Audre Lorde was a Black writer who is mostly known for addressing topics such as racism, sexism, and homophobia in her work. Lorde dedicated her life to activism and challenging the ways society views Black women, lesbians, and other minority groups.

6. Steve Biko 

Steve Biko was an anti-apartheid activist. He co-founded the South African Students’ Organization and the Black People’s Convention in 1972. He is often regarded as the father of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa.

7. Miriam Makeba 

Miriam Makeba was a popular South African singer and civil rights activist. She was very vocal about her opposition to apartheid, and upon moving to the U.S., she was denied re-entry to South Africa for several decades.

8. Martin Delany

Martin Delany was an abolitionist, newspaper editor, and one of the first successful Black physicians. He attended Harvard Medical School and was the first African-American Field Officer in the U.S. Army.

9. Ella Baker 

Ella Baker was a prominent civil rights activist. She worked along side many well-known Black leaders in the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Young Negroes Cooperative League. Baker was a part of many influential organizations during the civil rights era.

10. Bayard Rustin 

Bayard Rustin worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders. Rustin organized the March on Washington, founded an organization for African-American trade union members, and was overall a very influential person. Despite all of his efforts, he was never given the recognition he deserved because he was an openly gay man.

Black history is not just limited to the small amount of people we learn about every year. For several reasons, many influential black leaders have been left out of history, with their accomplishments unacknowledged and their stories untold.

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A freshman in high school, Lauren loves writing, theatre, and a good book. In her spare time, she is either sleeping, binge watching or arguing with strangers on the internet.

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