Alain Leroy Locke, The First African American Rhodes Scholar
Alain LeRoy Locke was born on September 13, 1885, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Locke graduated from Harvard University and was the first African American to win a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. He subsequently received a doctorate in philosophy from Harvard and taught at Howard University. Locke publicized the Harlem Renaissance to a wide audience. He died in New York City on June 9, 1954. He was laid to rest in Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC. Read More
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Carter G. Woodson, Activist/Historian
Carter G. Woodson founded The Journal of Negro History in 1916 and began Negro History Week (later Black History Month) in 1926, earning him the nickname “The Father of Black History.” The son of enslaved African Americans, Carter Woodson earned undergraduate degrees at Kentucky’s Berea College in 1903 and at the University of Chicago in 1907. Dr. Goodson's greatest impact was as the leader of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization he founded in Chicago in 1915. (The name was changed to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History — ASALH — in 1972.) Read More.
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Rosa Louise McCauley
Rosa Parks became an icon of the American civil rights movement simply by refusing to give up her seat on a city bus.
In 1955, Rosa Parks was an African-American living in Montgomery, Alabama — a city with laws that strictly segregated blacks and whites. On December 1, 1955, after her day of work as a seamstress at a local department store, Rosa Parks boarded a city bus. When she refused to give up her seat to a white man, the bus driver called police, and Rosa Parks was arrested and fined.
The resulting bus boycott by African-Americans, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., caused a national sensation. Read More.
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Loretta Lynch, first African American woman Attorney General of the United States.
Ms. Lynch served as Attorney General of the United States from 2015-2017.
Loretta Elizabeth Lynch was born in North Carolina; her father was a Baptist minister and her mother a school librarian. She made her way to Harvard, where she earned an undergraduate degree in 1981 and a law degree in 1984.
Lynch spent the next six years as a litigation lawyer at the New York firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, but in 1990 she joined the Justice Department as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She rose to the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (1999); while in that position, she oversaw the high-profile 1999 case of Abner Louima, helping to win conviction of two police officers for beating and abusing the Haitian immigrant with a broom handle. Read More.
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Dr. Mae Carol Jemison, first African American Woman in Space.
Dr. Mae Carol Jemison became the first woman of color to travel into space on September 12, 1992, when she rocketed into Earth orbit on an 8-day mission aboard the spacecraft Endeavour.
Raised in Chicago, Mae Jemison went to Stanford at the age of 16 and graduated in 1977. She then earned her medical degree from Cornell University (1981) and became a physician. She practiced medicine as a general practitioner in Los Angeles and served in the Peace Corps in Africa before being approved for astronaut training with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1987.
Jemison spent the next six years at NASA, ending up on mission STS-47 aboard the shuttle Endeavour in 1992. After leaving NASA in 1993 she founded the Jemison Group, a research and consulting firm, and became active in several educational programs. Read More.
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Attorney Thurgood Marshall, 1st African-American Justice.
Attorney Thurgood Marshall led the civil rights case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka to a successful hearing at the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954. He became the court’s first African-American justice 13 years later.
The descendant of slaves, Thurgood Marshall graduated from all-black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1930, then received a law degree from Howard University in 1933. He opened his own law practice in Baltimore and became known as a lawyer who would speak up for the rights of African-Americans; this led him to a job with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1936.