CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR (1929-1968)
Pastor of famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, leader and iconic symbol of the modern civil rights movement, founder of SCLC.
Effectively employed Gandhian strategy of nonviolence and direct action that led to public protest of racial segregation, the March on Washington for Jobs, the renowned “ I Have A Dream,” speech, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Poor People’s Campaign, and in 1964, receipt of the Noble Peace Prize. “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,” MLK.
PREACHER: MARTIN LUTHER KING, SR (1899-1984)
Pastor of famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, Georgia State civil rights activist, father of civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ATHLETE: ALTHEA GIBSON (1927- 2003)
First African American to win a Grand Slam tennis title and the first to compete on the Women’s Professional Golf Tour.
In 1956 became the first Black woman to win the French Open. Later, won the Australian Open, U.S. Open, and Wimbledon to complete a prestigious grand slam. Retired from tennis in 1958 having won 56 national and international singles and doubles titles. In golf she broke tournament records, becoming the first black woman allowed to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Althea Gibson died nearly penniless due to gender and racial discrimination that significantly reduced access to income and wealth development.
JOURNALIST: IDA WELLS-BARNETT (1862- 1931)
Civil rights leader, investigative journalist, led national anti-lynching campaign, a founder of the NAACP, suffragist.
Born into slavery, became an Elementary school teacher. Fired from teaching for advocating better conditions for black school children, Wells dedicated her life to the fight for civil rights and against the Jim Crow system through vehicles such as co-owner of a newspaper; publications including the “Southern Horrors, Lynch Law in All Its Phases;” speaking tours domestic and foreign; organizations including the NAACP, and co-founded women’s clubs, the National Association of Colored Women Clubs, and the Alpha Suffrage Club.
ACTIVIST: FANNIE LOU HAMER (1917- 1977)
Voting rights and women’s rights activist, community organizer, and inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
With little formal education, having to overcome extreme racial bigotry and violence, class prejudice, she excelled in the movement for human rights. Co-founded Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Party (MFDP). Her epitaph, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” sums up Hamer’s life work to promote civil rights and end the violence against black people.
ENTERTAINER: JAMIE FOXX (1967-Present)
Actor, comedian, and singer. Awards include the Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild,
Critics’ Choice Movie, Golden Globe, Best Actor in a Leading Role, NAACP Image Award and received the coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Born Eric Marion Bishop, known professionally as Jamie Fox, a world class entertainer whose awards in comedy, films, and television and the music industry speaks volumes to his legacy as a great entertainer.
ENTREPRENUER: MADAM C.J. WALKER (Sara Breedlove) (1867-1919)
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, political and social activist. Arguably, the first female American self-made millionaire.
Fortune derived from developing and marketing cosmetics and hair care products for black women through Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company (c.1910). She promoted women in business, the training of young women in beauty skills, and generous contributions to civil rights causes including the NAACP, and the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
FREEDOM FIGHTER: HARRIETT TUBMAN (1822-1913)
Abolitionist and political activist. Civil War Union army scout, spy, women’s suffragist.
Dubbed “The Moses of Her People.” Led over seventy enslaved people from Maryland to Pennsylvania and beyond for over a decade after she herself escaped enslavement. A radical abolitionist, she helped John Brown plan his raid on Harper’s Ferry. Served the United States army during the American Civil War as an army scout, a spy, and a nurse. After the Civil War Harriet Tubman entered the campaign for women’s suffrage until she died in 1913. The U.S. Treasury Department is currently working to place Harriet Tubman on the obverse side of the twenty-dollar bill.
AUTHOR: JAMES BALDWIN (1924-1987)
Novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, social and political activist. Prolific American literary giant. Inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor.
Addressed various and important social, political, and cultural aspects of the black experience and became an active and influential figure in the civil rights movement. His writings candidly raised discussions on homosexuality and homophobia. An incomplete list of his renowned works includes Go Tell It on the Mountain, Another Country, If Beale Street Could Talk, Just Above My Head; essays and short stories such as “Notes of a Native Son,” “Down at the Cross,” and “Going to Meet the Man.”
MILITARY: BENJAMIN OLIVER DAVIS, SR. (1877-1970)
Brigadier general, U.S. Army and the first African American general in the U.S. the military.
Assisted in the acceptance of an expanded role of black soldiers in the military.
MUSICIAN: MILES DAVIS (1926-1991)
Trumpeter, composer, band leader. Among the most influential and innovative jazz musicians of the 20th century.
Among the most innovative, influential, and respected figures of jazz and American music. Led or pioneered jazz schools including “Be-Bop,” “cool jazz” (West Coast), modern and fusion jazz.
POLITICIAN: HIRAM RHODES REVELS (1827-1901)
Politician, African Methodist Episcopal Minister, first African American U.S. Senator, and first president of what would become Alcorn State University.
Succeeded former President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis as U.S. Senator from Mississippi. In the Senate he passionately argued for desegregation of the schools and racial prejudice before the Jim Crow system became normal currency.
SCIENTIST: BENJAMIN BANNEKER (1731-1806)
Surveyor, author of Banneker’s Almanac, mathematician, and scientist.
Instrumental role in assisting in the surveying the original boundaries of the nation’s new capitol in Washington, District of Columbia. “Banneker’s Almanac,” was second only to “Poor Richard’s Almanac (Benjamin Franklin) in popularity. Served anti-slavery supporters as proof of the contributions black people could make to America if given the opportunity. Known for his scientific work in astronomy, the study of locust, and the honey bee.
ARTIST: GORDON PARKS (1912-2006)
Photographer, film director, photojournalist, writer, musician.
First black photographer at “Vogue,” “Glamour,” and “Life” magazines and co-founder of “Essence” magazine. First major American black film director including his most notable works, “Shaft” and the “Learning Tree.” Fashion, sports, Broadway, poverty, racial segregation were subjects of photographic essays including photo studies of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Barbara Streisand.