By now you’ve learned in school that February is Black History Month. You’ve learned about key figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Oprah Winfrey et al., but because Black History is taught separately and only one month out of the year, I’m sure there are plenty of things your school hasn’t gotten around to teaching. Educate yourself before the month is over by checking out these little-known Black History Facts:
1. Black History Month started as a Week
In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson established, “Negro History Week” as an initiative to bring national attention to African American contributions to American History. He chose the second week of February because of W. E. B. Dubois’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays.
2. One of the First Successful Open-Heart Surgeries was Performed by a Black Man
Daniel Hale Williams is a bad ass. In addition to the pericardium surgery innovations, he also founded Provident Hospital, the first integrated hospital in the United States.
3. You Can Thank Frederick McKinley Jones for your Grocery Having Cold Non-Local Foods
Here on the east coast, it’s hard to find a garden of avocadoes–mainly because they love hanging out on the west coast. They just grow better (and natively) there. However, FMJ created the first rail and truck refrigeration systems that made it possible for food to travel long distances without spoiling.
4. Jessica Williams is the First Black Female Correspondent on The Daily Show
Jessica (@msjwilly if you’re nasty) is the 24 year-old powerhouse bringing youth and hilarity to the esteemed comedy late night news show since January 2012.. Her segments have garnered hundreds of thousands of reblogs on Tumblr and millions of video views.
5. You Can See Clearer, Thanks to Patricia Bath
This incredible woman invented modern laser eye surgery. In 1988, Bath patented a laser that could powerfully and effectively vaporize cataracts in suffering patients. She helped restore sight to some who had been blind for over 30 years!
6. Gabby Douglas was the First American Olympian to Win Gold Medals in Addition to the Individual All-Around Gold Medal.
In case you missed this month’s Lifetime Movie about her life, Gabby Douglas is the teen Black hero that absolutely dominated 2012 Summer Olympics. Even though she was harshly and unduly criticized for her hairstyle while competing, she quickly silenced all critics with her amazing talent. Truly an inspiration.
There are loads more inspiring, innovative, talented figures in American History that happen to be Black. Take pride in educating yourself about people of all backgrounds that worked to make America the country it is today–and Happy Black History Month!
Image courtesy of enchanted-dystopia.tumblr.com