It’s time to celebrate, beautiful Black people! Black History Month is upon us and it’s only right that we honor all of the figures who’ve come before us to make our lives today better, as well as show love to those continuing the fight in order for tomorrow to shine even brighter for people of color.
Every single day of the year, black people who strive to make improvements in their communities and push Black people forward should be acknowledged. If we aren’t the ones who do it, then no one will. So, it’s important that we honor our own and thank them for making our lives more fair, as well as appreciate them for making us as a people feel more powerful.
Black History Month is the designated time that we do all of this. But, do you know black history as well as you may believe? Our past is so rich — centuries long, in fact. So, it’s practically impossible to know every single thing about our history. However, it’s always fun to learn more facts about us as a people.
With that being said, we’ve collected a list of 28 facts — one for each day of Black History Month — about Black history that you may not already know. Check them out below and tell us if you’ve learned anything new on social media using the hashtag #BHMX. Happy learning!
1. Black History Month began as Negro History Week.
2. Stevie Wonder helped make Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday with the assistance of special lyrics from his “Happy Birthday” song.
3. The dance form of stepping originated in Africa. The African gumboot dance is credited as being stepping’s biggest influence.
4. In 2008, Usain Bolt became the first man to win three world records at a single Olympics event.
5. The Black Panther character first appeared in comics in 1966.
6. A full-time nurse named Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first home security system.
7. Countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands celebrate Black History Month in October.
8. One of the most prominent doctors of his time, Dr. Charles Drew created the first major blood banks, blood plasma programs and bloodmobiles.
9. The Black Panthers launched programs such as free dental care, free breakfast, and drama classes in underserved black communities.
10. Lisa Gelobter invented the Gif. Thank her for making your tweets so funny!
11. Lincoln University in Pennsylvania became the first degree-granting institution of higher education for African Americans. It paved the way for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
12. Cathay Williams became the first and only female Buffalo soldier in 1866. She would pose as a male for two years until a doctor discovered that she was a woman, which led to her immediate discharge.
13. John Mercer Langston became the first African American lawyer in the United States when he passed the bar in 1854. He’s also the great-uncle of famed Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.
14. Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African American person elected to the U.S. Senate. She served from February 1870 to March 1871.
15. Elijah McCoy is regarded as one of the most prominent black inventors ever. He’s credited for inventing over 50 devices in his career, including a “lubricating cup,” which automatically dripped oil when needed.
16. Mathematician and scientist Benjamin Banneker is credited for designing the layout of Washington, D.C.
17. Politician and educator Shirley Chisholm survived three assassination attempts during her campaign for the Democratic nomination for the United States presidency in 1972.
18. The largest women’s organization is the National Council of Negro Women, which was founded by educator and political leader Mary McLeod Bethune.
19. Xavier University, a historically black college in Louisiana, has one of the highest success rates in the country for getting their graduates into medical school.
20. Thomas L. Jennings (1791-1859) was the first African American person to receive a patent in the U.S.
21. Allensworth is the only California community to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. Created by Allen Allensworth in 1908, the town was built with the intention of establishing a self-sufficient, all-black city where African Americans could live their lives free of racial discrimination.
22. Halle Berry was the first African American to win an Academy award for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball.
23. In 2018, Kobe Bryant became the first athlete and the first black person to win an Oscar for Best Animated Short for his film, Dear Basketball. He was a credited writer for the project.
24. Aretha Franklin was not only the first African American woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but the first woman, period.
25. Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar, was not allowed to attend the national premiere of Gone With The Wind, the film featuring her award-winning performance, because she was black.
26. Nat King Cole was the first African American to reach #1 on the Billboard charts and the first African American to host his own television show.
27. In 1921, an entire city in Oklahoma was burned to the ground due to a racial disturbance and retaliation. This was the Tulsa Race Riot.
28. Quincy Jones is the most Grammy-nominated artist in the history of the awards show with 79 nominations and 27 wins.