Black history month: 10 influential figures

In honor of Black History Month, it’s important to take a second out of each of our days to recognize the many iconic African Americans who have contributed to society. They have each impacted our modern day communities, whether it has been through participating in the Civil Rights movement or excelling in a particular subject.

Iconic African Americans can not be written about unless Martin Luther King Jr. is mentioned, because he gave African Americans an opportunity that many were afraid they’d never see: equality. He was a leader of the non-violent United States Civil Rights Movement and was a spokesmen for every African American. He is known for his powerful speeches that sought for a united society.

Maya Angelou was known as one of the most influential black heroes. She was a writer and performer who made a change through her literature. When Angelou was younger, she was raped by her mothers boyfriend. Back then, there were less opportunities for women to access therapy for trauma caused by sexual assault, so she was essentially voiceless. Through her literature, she gained a sense of courage and confidence because she was able to speak her mind freely. Her traumatic story turned into an inspiration for both men and women. She gave people a sense of empowerment, hope, and courage and for that, she will never be forgotten.

Jackie Robinson was the first African American to put an end to the racism that was present in the modern baseball league. When Robinson signed a contract with the major league, he agreed that he would remain composed on and off the field despite the hateful and racist remarks directed at him. Fans would say hurtful things to him while he was playing simply because he was black. Despite what the fans were saying, he still managed to be one of the most memorable baseball players of all times. He didn’t let the comments get in the way of his performance or his desire to win. Robison paved a way for all future players due to his character and dignity and will always be known as one of the most iconic black heroes.

Barack Obama is the United States first African American president. When he became president, it opened doors for several individuals. For many years, African Americans have fought for freedom and equal Liberty. Obama making it to the office showed how far African Americans have come as a whole. Years ago no one could have ever imagined a black man making it to the White House but now it represents change.

Fredrick Douglass, born in 1818, was a former slave that was known for his leading role in the antislavery movement. His speeches discussing slavery became influential for readers and changed some people’s perspectives.

Nelson Mandela, also know as “the Father of the Nation”, served as the president of South Africa and was a anti-apartheid revolutionist. His goal was to put an end to the apartheid and racism. He brought peace to South Africa and had an influence on people all over the world by fighting for human rights.  One of his most famous quotes is, “Be ever vigilant, hold governments accountable, struggle for peace and justice.”

Michael Jackson was an American singer who everyone loved to listen to. He started off singing with his brothers in Jackson 5. He later ventured off and continued his career as a solo artist. Michael spoke to people from all over the world no matter what race which was a way to bring people together. After this tragic death, he is still known as the “King of Pop.”

The most famous African American media talk show host, Oprah Winfrey has been an inspiration for many people. When Oprah was younger, she was molested. Similar to Maya Angelou, she didn’t let that come in the way of her success. She used her story as a way to connect to her viewers which creates a sense of comfort for her viewers. She’s an inspiration to never let things that happen to you get on the way of what your purpose in life is, there’s always a healing. She makes women who are afraid to speak about their violence feel comfortable so that they don’t have to be.

Viola Davis, who stars in ABC’s drama series How to Get Away with Murder, is the first African American to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama Series. Davis’ childhood was a difficult one poverty. When her family was experiencing financial issues, she looked to land roles in television movies to help provide. She found her passion for acting in high school and she knew from that day on, she wanted to pursue a career in acting. Her career has brought her far and she continues to make incredible movies.

The first African American first lady, Michelle Obama, has had a major impact during her years in the White House. She has emphasized the importance of healthy eating by planting a garden at the White House. She also has an influence on the education crisis by launching Let Girls Learn. With this, she hopes to put 62 million girls in school by funding education projects, #62MillionGirls. She is currently a role model for many people, ranging from young girls to older women, because of the power and the change that she has made.

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