February is Black History Month, which means for only 28 (sometimes 29) days, people remember the contributions and achievements African Americans made to this country and all over the world. Growing up, whenever my class learned about great African Americans, we always learned about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, etc. But what about the people who did not get the recognition but still did great things? Allow me to introduce you to some of our unsung heroes in black history.
1. Robert Smalls
Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina. During and after the Civil he came a ship’s pilot, captain, and politician. On May 13, 1862, Smalls freed himself, along with his crew and their families after leading an uprising on the CSS Planter, and then sailed north. His actions helped persuade President Lincoln to allow African-American soldiers into the Union army. Later on, as a politician, Smalls authored state legislation that gave South Carolina the first free public school system in the United States.
2. Claudette Colvin
Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up and was arrested, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, was dragged from a Montgomery bus by two police officers and taken to an adult jail to be booked and processed. Many people forget her story, but it was her actions that inspired Rosa Parks to refuse her seat , and led to the Montgomery bus boycott, and ultimately the ruling of the Supreme Court ending segregation on buses.
3. Benjamin Singleton
Benjamin Singleton was a businessman and activist, who was held in slavery in Tennessee. Singleton escaped to freedom in 1846 and became a noted abolitionist, community leader and spokesman for African-American civil rights. He returned to Tennessee during the Union occupation in 1862, but soon concluded that Blacks would never achieve economic equality in the white-dominated South.
A prominent early voice for Black nationalism, he became involved in promoting and coordinating Black-owned businesses in Kansas, and developed an interest in the Back-to-Africa movement.
4. Matthew Henson
Matthew Alexander Henson became the first African-American Arctic explorer, and is credited as the first man to reach the North Pole, in 1909.
Henson was an associate of the American explorer Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years. Henson served as a navigator and craftsman, traded with Inuit and learned their language. He was known as Peary’s “first man” when it came to tackling the arduous expeditions.
5. Martin Delany
Martin Robison Delany was an African-American abolitionist, journalist, physician and writer. He was born free in Charles Town, West Virginia. Delany was an outspoken Black nationalist and is considered by some to be the grandfather of Black nationalism.
He was also one of the first three Blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School. Trained as an assistant and a physician, he treated patients during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 in Pittsburgh, when many doctors and residents fled the city. Active in recruiting Blacks for the United States Colored Troops, he was commissioned as a major, the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War.
Biographies came from Atlantablackstar.com
For more on unsung black heroes, read the full article here.