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Black History Month

John Lewis | American Civil rights Leader and Politician

John Lewis, in full John Robert Lewis, (born February 21, 1940, near Troy, Alabama, U.S.—died July 17, 2020, Atlanta, Georgia), American civil rights leader and politician best known for his chairmanship of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and for leading the march that was halted by police violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, a landmark event in the history of the civil rights movement that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” A brief history of...

Black History NJ: The Complete Series

Jersey Joe Walcott Arnold Raymond Cream, aka Jersey Joe Walcott, was born in Merchantville, NJ, on Jan. 31, 1914. He held the record for the oldest heavyweight champion for more than four decades. His father, an immigrant from Barbados, died when Walcott was 15, which forced him to go to work to provide for his mother and younger siblings. At 16-years-old, he began boxing professionally and adopted Jersey Joe Walcott as his moniker… Carla Harris Montclair resident Carla Harris is an author,...

Private First Class James Anderson, Jr.

The first African American U.S. Marine to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, Private First Class James Anderson, Jr. died on February 28, 1967 during an unconscionable act of heroism. he Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration was posthumously awarded on August 21, 1967 to Anderson for sacrificing his life for his fellow soldiers by grasping a grenade and shielding the explosion with his body to protect their lives. The official Citation was: “For conspicuous gallantry...

Hiram Rhodes Revels

Hiram Rhodes Revels representing Mississippi became the first African American to be sworn into United States Senate on February 25, 1870. Revels served as a Republican representing the state of Mississippi from February 25, 1870 until March 3, 1871. He was born on September 27, 1827 in Fayetteville, North Carolina to free African Americans. Revels worked as an ordained Methodist minister and served as a high school principal in Baltimore, Maryland. English: “First African American Senator...

Patricia Bath - Pioneer Ophthalmologist - Inventor of laser cataract surgery

Patricia Bath was the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology in 1973. Two years later, she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute. In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that "eyesight is a basic human right." In 1986, Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, improving treatment for cataract patients. She patented the device in 1988, becoming...

Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Congresswoman Barbara Jordan was born on February 21, 1936 in Houston, Texas. Known for her strong and commanding oratory skills, Barbara Jordan on July 12, 1976, became the first African American to deliver a Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention. She also gave a keynote address at the 1992 Democratic Convention. Jordan was the first African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives from the south in 1972. Barbara Jordan 1976-04-07 Prior to...

Bass Reeves: The Real Lone Ranger Was Black

If you’re like me, you remember watching the popular television show, The Lone Ranger, where it depicted a white man who wore a disguise on a white horse and had a Native American counterpart with him named Tonto. The story we are most familiar with started out as a radio show, then a popular television show that ran from 1949 to 1957, then comic books, and several cartoons and big-budget movies. But like many things during slavery, history may have been obscured and the actual “Lone Ranger”...

First African-American television reporter: Trudy Haynes

Born on Tuesday, November 23, 1926, Broadcast Pioneers member Trudy Haynes, who made local history in August of 1965 as the market's first African-American television reporter, retired in December 1988 after 33 years on the air at KYW-TV, Channel 3. Before breaking the color line in Philadelphia TV, Trudy was already a trailblazer in the industry. In the early 50's she was the first African-American poster model for Lucky Strike cigarettes. She entered broadcasting in 1956 as women's editor...

The first licensed African American Female pilot was named Bessie Coleman.

Born in Atlanta, Texas in 1892, Bessie Coleman grew up in a world of harsh poverty, discrimination and segregation. She moved to Chicago at 23 to seek her fortune, but found little opportunity there as well. Wild tales of flying exploits from returning WWI soldiers first inspired her to explore aviation, but she faced a double stigma in that dream being both African American and a woman. She set her sights on France in order to reach her dreams and began studying French. In 1920, Coleman...

Shani Davis Wins Gold

On February 18, 2006 in Turin, Italy, Shani Davis became the first African American to win a Gold medal in an individual Winter Olympics. Among many other accomplishments, Davis won the 2005 World Allround Championships in Moscow, Russia. He won Gold and Silver medals in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada. Davis was born on August 13, 1982 in Chicago, Illinois. He was raised by his mother on the southside of Chicago where as a small child he excelled in roller-skating. He...

Dr. Valerie L. Thomas - Inventor of the Illusion Transmitter (3D movies)

Valerie L. Thomas was born in February of 1943 in Maryland. She was fascinated with technology as a very young child. Around the age of eight, her curiosity about how things worked inspired her to borrow a book called, “The Boy’s First Book On Electronics," which she took home hoping that her father would help her take on some of the projects in it. After all, he liked to tinker with radios and television sets. But he did not help her. Thomas attended an all-girls high school that did not...

New Jersey's Underground Railroad

Lawnside, New Jersey The Peter Mott House is the oldest known house to serve as a station on the Underground Railroad in New Jersey. Elizabeth and Newark New Jersey Jersey City - The last stop Before the Civil War, Jersey City was the last stop on the New Jersey Underground Railroad route for many runaway slaves seeking freedom. The quest for freedom prompted an estimated 100,000 19th century black slaves to make the dangerous journey along the Underground Railroad. That term refers to the...

On this day the first black professional basketball team "The Renaissance" was organized.

The New York Rens were the first all-black fully professional African-American owned basketball team, formed in Harlem in 1923. That year, basketball manager Robert “Bob” Douglas made a deal with Harlem real estate developer William Roach, the owner of the new Renaissance Ballroom and Casino. Douglas owned and managed an all-black basketball team called the Spartan Braves, which was a leading contender for the black national championship title. His basketball club had no home court. The...

Dr. Natalia Tanner was the first African American board certified pediatrician in Detroit, Michigan.

Dr. Natalia M. Tanner, M.D: The first African American to be accepted into the residency program at the University of Chicago. The first African American woman fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first African American on the staff of Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. The first woman and African American to serve as president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Natalia M. Tanner, M.D. built a long and distinguished career in pediatrics.

New Jersey's Own Whitney Houston

Today marks nine years since we lost an icon, the indelible mark Whitney Houston left on this world continues on today! ⁠⁠ With over 200 million combined album, singles and videos sold worldwide during her career with Arista Records, Whitney Houston has established a benchmark for superstardom that will quite simply never be eclipsed in the modern era. She is a singer’s singer who has influenced countless other vocalists female and male. Music historians cite Whitney’s record-setting...

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