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1. Phillis Wheatley was only 12 when she became the first female African American author published.

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2. MLK improvised the most iconic part of his “I Have a Dream” speech. 

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3. Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar, wasn’t allowed to attend Gone With the Wind's national premiere.

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4. Josephine Baker was a spy for the French during WWII.

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5. The ban on interracial marriage in the U.S. was overturned because of one couple in 1967.

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  • Photo Credit: The Lovings: An Intimate Portrait

6. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Maya Angelou’s 40th birthday.

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  • Photo Credit: Alchetron

7. Nine months before Rosa Parks, there was a young woman named Claudette Colvin.

black history month claudette colvin
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8. Anna Murray was the first African-American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.

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9. Matthew Henson was a key member of the first successful expedition to the North Pole and made seven separate voyages to the Arctic.

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10. Madam C.J. Walker was an African American entrepreneur who became America's first female self-made millionaire.

black history month madam cj walker
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11. Billie Holiday’s famous “Strange Fruit” was originally a poem written by a school teacher.

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12. Octavia E. Butler was dyslexic.

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13. Benjamin Banneker taught himself astronomy and math to become America's "First Known African American Man of Science".

black history month benjamin banneker
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14. During her run for president, three separate assassination attempts were made on Shirley Chisholm.

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15. Dr. Mayme Clayton founded the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in 1975.

Mayme Clayton
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16. The 6888th Battalion was an all-black, all-female unit of the military that delivered mail to World War II troops across England.

6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion
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17. Allensworth, California was an all-black township—and the first of its kind.

Allen Allensworth
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18. The charity single "We Are the World" owes its creation and success to black artists.

We Are the World
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  • Photo Credit: Columbia Records

19. John Baxter Taylor was the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal.

John Baxter Taylor
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Published on 31 Jan 2019