Icon Profiles

Jacob Lawrence, whose paintings documented Black history

Jacob Lawrence was the first African American, as a stewards mate in the Coast Guard, to be appointed a Combat Artist.
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Dr. Olivia Hooker, first Black woman in the Coast Guard, eyewitness to Tulsa Massacre

Trump’s disaster in Tulsa presents us an opportunity to discuss the city’s race riot of 1921 when countless number of African Americans were killed and the Greenwood District, or “Black Wall Street,” was destroyed.
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A literary promise of greatness—Henry Dumas

It is easy to summon a list of Black men whose lives have been snuffed out by unwarranted violence by white police officers, a list that is provoked by the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis when an officer ...
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Bohannon, percussionist, producer and bandleader

News of Little Richard’s death on May 9 made him the second notable musician from Georgia to leave us in the last two weeks with the passing of drummer Hamilton Bohannon on April 24.
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Ring great Jackie Tonawanda, 'The Female Ali'

For her skills in the ring and her volubility, Jackie Tonawanda was known as “The Female Ali.”
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Emmett Ashford, the first Black umpire in the Major Leagues

Count me among the millions of sports junkies now enduring withdrawal pains as the cancellations and suspensions mount across the land.
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Henrietta Duterte, abolitionist and first woman owner of a funeral home

Madeline Lyles and Dana Taylor of Memphis’ claims as the owners of the first funeral home by Black women is true, but only in the plural sense.
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Legendary funeral director and entrepreneur O’Neil Swanson

It isn’t often that legendary is affixed to the name of a funeral home founder, but the attribute more than fits the life and legacy of O’Neil D. Swanson.
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Annie Turnbo Malone, trailblazing millionaire and beauty maven

Invariably, with study and research of Madam C.J. Walker, Annie Turnbo Malone is mentioned, and she gets a little more than a passing nod in the recent Netflix bio-pic of Walker.
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The life and time of Yvonne Little Woodward, Malcolm X’s youngest sister

Two weeks ago we featured the life and legacy of Ella Little-Collins, Malcolm X’s half-sister. Today Yvonne Little Woodward has the stage, and though she made her own mark in life, for the most part she distinguished herself outside the ...
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Julius Montgomery, a trailblazer at Cape Canaveral and elsewhere

The recent passing of Katherine Johnson reminded me of Julius Montgomery, who, like Johnson, surmounted barriers and made his mark in the race for space as the first African American to employed at Cape Canaveral—and not a janitor.
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Malcolm X: The price of freedom is death

Friday, Feb. 21, 1965 marks the day a hit squad of cold-blooded assassins aired out the Audubon Ballroom stage, expiring the physical life of Black Nationalist advocate El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, aka Malcolm X, in full view of his ...
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Hallie Quinn Brown: A pioneer in Black women’s clubs and teacher

Among those several and memorable moments when Hallie Quinn Brown raised her voice against racism and for women’s rights, the one in the summer of 1920 in Tuskegee, Alabama stands out.
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William Worthy—a radical, intrepid journalist and activist

When intrepid activist and journalist William Worthy died six years ago, I promised that one day he would be featured in the Classroom column, and thus it is this week as we witness the global attack on reporters who dare ...
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America’s first Black vote was cast in New Jersey

The national theme for Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote” highlighting suffrage of Blacks throughout American history.
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