Black History Makers We Don't Hear About During Black History Month
1 year ago
A look back at America's Black NASCAR, opera and country music pioneers
Though people have begun to debate the relevance of Black History Month in an age in which our country has a black president, most people are willing to acknowledge that there are plenty of people--black and white--who are unfamiliar with many of our country's most impressive history makers of color. Each February, we honor some of them, but have you ever noticed that we tend to honor many of the same ones year after year? Harriet Tubman is without question one of America's greatest black female heroines, and George Washington Carver was one of our most important inventors, but most of us have been hearing about them and their extraordinary contributions since we were children. So as we celebrate the conclusion of Black History Month we want to tribute to some black history makers who fewer may know. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below.
Gen. Benjamin Davis (1877-1970): In 1940 Davis became the first black general in the U.S. Army. His son, Benjamin Davis, Jr. later became the first black general of the U.S. Airforce and was the Commander of the Tuskeegee Airmen.
Vivien Thomas (1910-1985): In 1944 while working as a surgical technician at Johns Hopkins, Thomas perfected a surgical procedure to successfully treat "blue baby syndrome." The procedure has been credited with saving countless lives. Though Thomas received virtually no recognition at the time (the procedure was ultimately named for the white doctor Thomas trained to perform it) Thomas was awarded an honorary doctorate by Johns Hopkins in 1976 and his life became the basis of an award-winning HBO film in 2004.
Juanita Hall (1901-1968): In 1950 Hall became the first black person to win theatre's highest honor, a Tony Award for her performance in the musical "South Pacific." (Known for her ambiguous racial appearance it was one of many roles in which Hall portrayed a character who was not African-American.)