Multicultural Initiatives Black History Month | Kent State University

Multicultural Initiatives Black History Month

Black History Month "Little Known Facts"

Dr. Carter G. Woodson  

  • Pioneered “Negro History Week,” which eventually evolved to Black History Month, to reduce racism through education. 
  • Was a member of the first professional black fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi.
  • This Harvard University alum was the second African American to earn a doctorate degree.

Katherine G. Johnson

  • A mathematical genius and early computing pioneer, she graduated from high school at the age of 14.
  • Accepted a position at NASA and contributed to the space program by helping to determine Astronaut John Glenn’s orbit, the trajectory of the Apollo 11 moon landing and more.
  • Learn more about Katherine G. Johnson.

Jeremiah G.  Hamilton

  • Considered Wall Street’s first black millionaire.
  • Launched a scheme, over insuring fleets then purposefully wrecking the vessels to collect the funds, inciting himself to be banned by marine industry in 1835.
  • When he died in 1875, the powerful broker was worth $2 million, which compared to today’s value would be around $250 million.

The National Black Independent Political Party

  • Formed in November 1980, the party remains the most prominent example of blacks breaking with the major two-party system of Democrats and Republicans.
  • More than 1,500 delegates consisted of leaders from the Black Power Movement.

Lucy Hicks Anderson

  • Biologically born a male, but identified as a girl at a young age.
  • Operated a brothel.
  • Charged with perjury and placed on probation for 10 years after she signed the marriage license and failed to disclose that she was born male. 
  • Learn more about Lucy Hicks Anderson.

Star Trek and TV's First Interracial Kiss

  • American television’s first interracial kiss featured on the classic sci-fi show Star Trek.
  • Featured the smooch between Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols).
  • The angle was stressed as to not anger white viewers. 
  • Learn more about TV's first interracial kiss.

E.E. Ward Moving & Storage

  • One of the oldest black-owned company in the U.S.
  • Was established during the Civil War and remains one of Columbus, Ohio’s most-reliable companies.
  • One of the top-rated businesses in the state of Ohio. 

Alexander vs. Holmes County Board of Education

  • The 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka decision legally declared separate schools for black and white students were unconstitutional.
  • In 1969, the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund took on Beatrice Alexander’s case to enforce desegregation in Mississippi schools.
  • The Supreme Court decision effectively denied any remaining barriers to full desegregation.
  • Learn more about Alexander vs. Holmes County Board of Education.

Mayor Ed Johnson

  • In November 2015, Mayor Ed Johnson made history with two significant benchmarks. He was elected as the first black mayor of Fayetteville, Georgia, and he also became the first black mayor of any of the five cities in Fayette County.

Kurt Schmoke 

  • Graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, in addition to being a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.
  • Worked as an attorney for President Jimmy Carter, as well as for the United States.
  • Elected as Baltimore’s first black mayor in November 1987.
  • Well-known for his strong stance against Baltimore’s crime and drug issues, along with attempts to revitalize the city’s crumbling schools, during his three terms as mayor.

Siza Mzimela 

  • In December 2015, this South African native became the first black woman to own and operate her own airline, Fly Blue Crane.
  • Previously, she was the first female CEO for South African Express Airways and South African Airlines, where she is credited with moving those airlines into international flights to the United States and abroad.

Sophia Danenberg 

  • On May 19, 2006, Danenberg became the first black woman and the second person of African descent to climb to the top of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.
  • The Chicago native has also conquered other mountains, including McKinley in Alaska, Mount Tasman in New Zealand, Mount Baker in Washington State, and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Matt Baker 

  • Considered the first successful black comic book artist.
  • First penciling artwork appeared in a 12-page comic, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle in 1944 for Jumbo Comics.
  • His biggest career splash was designing the cover art for the sultry super heroine, Phantom Lady.
  • Learn more about Matt Baker.

Abraham Bolden  

  • First black U.S. Secret Service agent assigned to a presidential detail, guarding the movement and family of President John F. Kennedy.
  • Was a celebrated agent and nationally recognized for assisting in the bust of two major counterfeit rings.
  • Was fired in 1964 over accusations that he attempted to accept a $50,000 bribe from the leader of one of the counterfeit rings, however, the funds were never discovered on his person. 
  • Learn more about Abraham Bolden.

Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee 

  • Although she was steered away from being a doctor, due to race and gender, she attended medical school and opened a family practice in the early 80s.
  • In 1993, she became the first black woman to be dean of an American medical school upon accepting the appointment at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • She is currently spearheading an effort to open a second College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.
  • Learn more about Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee.

James Bell 

  • Bell hails as only the second black person to sit on Apple’s executive board.
  • Formerly, he served as an interim CEO, CFO and president at Boeing.
  • He currently serves on the boards of JPMorgan Chase, Dow Chemical and is a trustee of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. 

Dr. Elson S. Floyd 

  • He earned a scholarship to the Darlington School, a PK-12 boarding school in Georgia, becoming its first black student.
  • Held the position of president at Western Michigan University in 1998; the University of Missouri in 2003; and Washington State University in 2007.
  • Was nicknamed “E Flo” for his approachable, affable nature and close involvement with students’ needs.
  • Learn more about Dr. Elson S. Floyd.

Mabel Fairbanks 

  • Despite her talent, the U.S. Skating Team would not admit a black woman.
  • She settled for skating with ice shows across North America, sometimes being the only black ice skater many had ever seen.
  • She started a career as a coach, training many of the sport’s brightest stars.
  • This equality advocate was instrumental in forcing Los Angeles’ Culver City skating club to admit its first black member in 1965.
  • The first black woman inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1997 for molding the careers of several Olympic gold medalists. 
  • Learn more about Mabel Fairbanks.

Dr. James West 

  • Interested in electronics from a child, he helped develop the electret microphone, a basis of technology for more than 90 percent of amplifiers and recording devices.
  • In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
  • Currently, a professor at John Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering.
  • Learn more about Dr. James West.

Kristin Finley 

  • Currently the lone active black female trapeze artist for the world famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
  • Was a member of the U.S. Air Force and a mechanic before pursing her dream of becoming an aerial acrobat. 

Susie Taylor King  

  • Born a slave, she secretly learned how to read and write.
  • During the Civil War, she impressed the Union generals with her literacy and was assigned to teach at the freedmen’s school.
  • Began traveling with the Negro troops and became the U.S. Army’s first black nurse.
  • The only black woman to detail her Civil War experiences in a published memoir. 
  • Learn more about Susie Taylor King.