Happy Black History Month 2021!
Happy Black History Month, Kultured cousins! Each day this month, I will be sharing a quote from a notable figure in Black History. This post will be updated with each person’s photo and major accomplishments. Follow @TheKulturedQueen on Instagram for their full stories, and prepare to be inspired by some figures you know, and plenty that you don’t. Remember that Black History is American History, and thus worthy of discussion all year round.
Day 1: W.E.B. Du Bois
The first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University
Co-founder of the NAACP
Creator of “The Crisis,” for which he was the Editor-In-Chief for 25 years.
Day 2: Phillis Wheatley
The first African American woman to publish a book of poetry.
Day 3: Robert Sengstacke Abbott
Founder of The Chicago Defender, which at one time was the most widely circulated black newspaper in the country.
One of the first self-made millionaires of African American descent.
Day 4: Sojourner Truth
A former slave who became an outspoken advocate for abolition, temperance, and civil and women’s rights in the 19th Century.
Her quote speaks to those resistant to the necessary change that would grant equal access and rights to those groups whom have historically suffered in the face of the oppressor’s prosperity.
Day 5: Cudjo Lewis
One of the last survivors of the “Clotilda,” the last recorded slave ship to the United States.
Co-founder of “Africatown” within Mobile, AL.
Subject of Zora Neal-Hurston’s book Barracoon
Day 6: Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler
The first African American woman to receive an M.D. degree, making her the first Black woman to become a medical doctor in the United States.
Published a book of medical advice for women and children, “Book of Medical Discourses,” in 1883.
Day 7: Jesse Owens
The first American track & field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad.
Day 8: Ida B. Wells
Co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club
Co-founder of the NAACP
Persistent journalist, researcher, and anti-lynching activist
Day 9: Gordon Parks
One of the most noted photographers in the 20th Century
His work documented American life and culture from the early 1940s into the 2000s
First African American to write and direct a major Hollywood studio feature film (1969)
Day 10: Bessie Coleman
The first African American and Native American woman pilot
Day 11: Hank Aaron
Major League Baseball record for the most Home Runs (755)
Broke Babe Ruth’s record number of home runs (714) in 1974
Day 12: Marian Anderson
The first African American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Most widely known for singing on The Lincoln Memorial steps in 1939, after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) denied her permission to sing before an integrated audience
Author, activist, goodwill ambassador, and US delegate to the UN
Had over 1,500 songs in her repertoire, sang in nine languages, performed on four continents
Day 13: Sidney Poitier
The first Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor (Awarded in 1964 for Lilies of the Field, 1963)
Day 14: Sister Rosetta Tharpe
“Godmother of Rock ‘n Roll”
Fused Delta blues, New Orleans jazz and gospel music into what would become her signature style
Openly queer performer in the industry, although her sexuality was not open to the public
Day 15: Bayard Rustin
One of the most influential and effective organizers of the civil rights movement.
A trusted advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (introduced King to a deeper understanding of Gandhi’s nonviolent ideas and tactics)
Helped start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Organized the 1963 March on Washington
Day 16: Gwendolyn Brooks
The first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize
Day 17: Congressman John Lewis
Lifelong civil rights and social justice advocate
Served 33 years in U.S. House of Representatives
Day 18: Daisy Bates
Organizer of the Little Rock 9
President of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP for many years
Day 19: Richard Pryor
Trailblazing comedian and actor
Earned $4 million for his role in Superman III, unprecedented amount for a Black actor at the time
Best known and loved for his explicit live comedy that included pertinent social commentary
Day 20: Maya Angelou
Award winning author, poet, professor, and cultural icon
Day 21: August Wilson
One of the most groundbreaking playwrights of the past century, August Wilson.
Wrote a 10-play cycle (one play for each decade of the 20th Century) encompassing various elements of Black life, culture, and experience
Day 22: Shirley Chisholm
The first African American woman in Congress (1968)
The first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties (1972)
Day 23: Alvin Ailey
Dancer, choreographer, and LGBT Rights activist
Founder of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, created to carry out his vision of a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience
Day 24: Marsha P. Johnson
An African American drag performer and social activist.
Became one of the faces of the Queer Revolution due to involvement in Stonewall Uprising
Founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which clothed, fed, housed, and advocated for transgender youth from a tenement on the lower Eastside
Day 25: Jean-Michel Basquiat
Innovative visual artist who brought graffitti into the mainstream
Prioritized the representation of Black subjects
Day 26: Misty Copeland
The first African American Female Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre
Day 27: President Barack Obama
The first African American President of the United States
Day 28: Vice President Kamala Harris (pronounced “Comma-la”)
The first woman, first Black American, and first South Asian American to be elected Vice President of the United States
Honorable Mention: Billie Holiday
One of the most famous jazz singers of the 20th Century
Wrote and performed the song, “Strange Fruit,” which lyrically describes the horrors of lynching after the U.S. Government failed to pass anti-lynching legislation in the 1930s.
Watch “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” on Hulu if you haven’t already.
Remember that Black History doesn’t stop being valuable just because February is over. Continue the prideful work of self-education and spreading awareness of our ancestors’ contributions, all year long. We cannot know where we’re going unless we know where we’ve been.
Stay Black. Stay Proud. #StayKultured