As Black History Month draws to a close, it’s important to take time to recognize the many amazing contributions African Americans have made to the country. There are many incredible people who have made great contributions, but also go unrecognized. While it’s important to continue to celebrate historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Frederick Douglass and more modern people who have been the first to achieve incredible feats, such as Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, there are still many African Americans who have made a difference in this country that may not be as well know. Here are a few of them that I believe we should take the time to acknowledge and learn about what they’ve done.
Guion Bluford & Robert Lawrence Jr.
Robert Lawrence, Jr. was the first ever African American to start training as an astronaut. He started training in 1967 and likely would have been the first African American in space, but he unfortunately died during his training in a plane crash. However, 16 years later, Guion Bluford followed in Robert Lawrence’s footsteps and became the first African American astronaut to enter space.
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver was a respected botanist and college professor who worked with three presidents. Carver came up with many uses for common foods, such as sweet potatoes, peanuts, and pecans. He also heavily researched crop rotation and ways to avoid soil depletion in agriculture.
Shirley Crisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968. She held her district for seven consecutive terms and then eventually became the first African American and the first woman to run for a major party’s presidential nomination. Though she did not receive the nomination, she helped pave the way for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who made history with their presidential nominations.
Thurgood Marshall is a more familiar name, especially with the release of the recent movie, Marshall, highlighting his achievements as a young attorney. Thurgood Marshall argued various cases before the Supreme Court before taking a seat as one of its justices, including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.
Dr. Charles Drew
Dr. Charles Drew was a well-known African American physician. He worked as a surgeon and was responsible for developing a way to preserve blood in order to facilitate successful transfusions. Thanks to his discoveries, the American Red Cross Blood Bank was developed and he served as its first director.
Madame C. J. Walker
From a hard start in life, as an orphan by age 6 and a widow by age 20, Madame C. J. Walker eventually went on to create hair products for African Americans and became a self-made millionaire. She was the wealthiest self-made woman of her time and also an active political and social activist.