In the history of the United States of America, the Black community has suffered great losses and discrimination at the hands of bigots and racists. While we should always celebrate the achievements of our Black brothers and sisters, February has been set aside as Black History Month since 1976. As the struggle for equality continues for many Black people, it's important to recognize the incredible things that Black people have contributed to the well-being of all humans.
#1. Madam C.J Walker
Madam C.J. Walker created a line of beauty care products for Black women, which led her to become the first Black woman to become a self-made millionaire. Not only did she better her own life with her products, but she also bettered the lives of others by hiring Black women to work for her. Walker is also known for donating money to educational scholarships, the NAACP, homes for the elderly, and other programs that improved the quality of life for other Black people.
"I am not satisfied in making money for myself. I endeavor to provide employment to hundreds of women of my race."―Madam C.J. Walker
#2. Misty Copeland
Thanks to Misty's undeniable talent, determination, and her unyielding desire to be the best, Misty became the first ever Black principal in the history of the American Ballet Theatre. Because of her, little girls from all over the world can be reminded that they're capable of doing anything, despite the odds that were against them.
“It's time to write our own story.” ― Misty Copeland
#3. Mario Rigby
Mario Rigby was born in Turks and Caicos Islands, but he spent his childhood in a small village in Germany. When Mario was 16 years old, he moved to Toronto, Canada, where he would grow up to become a top fitness expert and group trainer. He stayed in Toronto until he decided to make a life-changing journey. In 2015, Mario set off on a two-year trek from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt, using only his two feet or a kayak. Throughout his entire adventure, he was inspiring others to “travel and be brave” by updating all of his experiences onto social media. This incredible expedition has led Mario to develop Project EVA (Electric Vehicle Africa). His goal is to expose the benefits of using alternative technologies to help meet the energy and transportation needs in Africa. In 2018, Mario won a spot on the Most Influential People of African Descent global 100 list, which recognizes the people of African descent who have made positive contributions to the world.
“I wanted to show that in Africa , people are living everyday lives and that Africans are ingenious, creative … that there are all kinds of people that live there just the way we would live anywhere else. I wanted to normalize that, to show people this kind of living. And I think the best way to get the most authentic experience was to go by foot, because then, you have to meet every single body.” ―Mario Rigby
#4. Shirley Chisholm
As the first Black woman to be elected into Congress, Shirley Chisholm paved the way for future women to become involved in politics. Shirley spent her whole career fighting for education and social justice, including the Food Stamp Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children program, as well as fighting for unemployment benefits for domestic workers. In November of 2015, Shirley was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“In the end anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism.” ― Shirley Chisholm
#5. Marley Dias
Marley Dias was only eleven when she got sick of reading the books that she was given at school. Marley is an avid reader and she began to notice that all the books she was reading were about “white boys and their dogs.” Marley decided that she needed to do a little bit of research to find out if she was the only girl who felt that way. According to an analysis done by the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, only 8.4% of 3,400 trade books that were published in the U.S. in 2016 had a Black person as the main character. Marley had to do something. In November of 2015, Marley launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. Her mission was to collect and donate 1,000 books that have Black girls as the main character. As of now, Marley has received over 9,000 books, and she even has a book deal of her very own!
"This gaps hurts all of us. I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include and imagine Black girls and make Black girls like me the main characters of our lives."―Marley Dias