Unknown African Americans That You Should Know

Oftentimes, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are mentioned when it comes to pioneers in black history. Of course, there is a reason for that. However, what do you know about Bessie Coleman, Dorothy Height, Annie Lee Cooper, or Claudette Colvin? Don’t worry. You are not alone if their names don’t ring a bell right away.  

Before you buy your black history month merchandise to celebrate, here are several hidden figures that are worthy to be celebrated.  

Bessie Coleman 

Until after her death, Coleman was not recognized as a forerunner in aviation, despite being the 1st licensed African American pilot in the world.  

Dorothy Height 

Height utilized her background in social work and education to promote women’s rights. That’s why she is known as the “Godmother of the Movement for Women.” Height was the president of the NCNW (National Council of Negro Women) and a leader in the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) for 40 years or more. In addition to that, Height was among several women present at the March on 1963 in Washington.  

Annie Lee Cooper 

Annie Lee Cooper played a vital role in the Movement for Selma Voting Rights in 1965. She is a Selma, Alabama native. However, people really did not notice the activism of Cooper until Oprah played her in the film “Selma” in 2014. She is known for hitting Jim Clark, Alabama Sheriff, in the face. However, Cooper actually deserves to be celebrated for battling to protect and restore voting rights. 

Claudette Colvin 

There was a strong 15-year-old girl who decided not to sit at the bus’ back side even before Parks refused to give up her bus seat in 1955 on Montgomery, Alabaman. That 15-year old girl was named Claudette Colvin. Colvin challenged the driver, pushing her constitutional rights to stay seated close to the middle of the bus. However, she was arrested consequently. Colvin was the 1st woman to be imprisoned for resisting. But, Colvin’s story is not as popular as the story of Parks.  

Bayard Rustin 

Typically, for the March in August 1963 on Washington, Dr. King is credited. However, it is Bayard Rustin who strategized and organized secretly. Rustin was considered too much of a responsibility to be on the movement’s front lines since he’s a gay person who had scandalous connections to communism. Nevertheless, Rustin was known as one of the most intelligent people. He tirelessly served his community while touting for a better wage and more jobs.  

Shirley Chisholm 

In the late ‘60s, Chisholm became the 1st African American woman elected to congress during the racially argumentative period.  Chisholm represented the 12th district of New York from 1968 to 1982. Chisholm then became the 1st woman to run for the presidential nomination of Democratic Party in 1972. Unbossed and Unbought was her campaign slogan. Until now, this slogan still rings even better. By using the same logo as hers’, Senator Kamala Harris paid tribute recently to her in her presidential campaign announcement.