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Marie Brown

Invented the home security system in 1966

Sarah Boone

An African American inventor who on April 26, 1892, obtained United States patent rights for her improvements to the ironing board.

John Burr

Invented , in 1899 patented an improved rotary blade for the lawn mower.

George Washington Carver

A black chemist and director of agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute, where he invented over 300 uses for peanuts including lotions, soaps, and paints.

Lyda D. Newman

In 1898, the hairbrush

Phil Brooks

First U.S. Patent for a disposable syringe

Crosthwait, David, Jr.

Research engineer for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. He received some 40 U.S. patents relating to HVAC systems

Isaac R. Johnson

Invented the bicycle frame

Andrew Jackson

Steam driven rotary engine

George Crum, Inventor

The Potato Chip

Granville T. Woods, Inventor

Telephone transmitter, automatic air brake, and roller coaster

Dr. Henry T. Sampson

In 1971, he invented the gamma electric cell, which converts radiation directly into electricity.

Dr. Mark Dean

In 1980 he started working at IBM and was instrumental in the invention of the Personal Computer (PC). He holds three of IBM's original nine PC patents and currently holds more than 20 total patents.

Dr. Valerie L. Thomas

Inventor of the Illusion Transmitter, which creates three-dimensional projections.

James E. West

This inventor long with a colleague, developed the microphone (officially known as the Electroacoustic Transducer Electret Microphone) and they received a patent for it in 1962.

Joseph Lee

He invented the machine that makes bread (faster than six people could cheaply) and the machine that makes bread crumbs.

Lonnie G. Johnson

As a famous black inventor this scientist invented the Super Soaker squirt gun, released in 1989.

Dr. Charles Drew, Inventor

Blood Plasma. In 1944 this African-American physician, developed techniques for the storing and processing of blood for transfusion. His research on the preservation of blood and during WWII, helped developed blood-transfusion programs for the British and the French.

Garrett Augustus Morgan

Was an African-American inventor and businessman. He was the first person to patent a traffic signal. He also developed the gas mask (and many other inventions).

Gwendolyn Brooks

She was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the year 1950.

Bill Cosby

In 1965 he was the first black to have a starring role in a continuing network television dramatic series.

Michael Jackson

He was the first celebrity to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Toni Morrison

The First African American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

Sydney Poitier

In 1964 he became the First African American to win an Oscar for a staring role for his performance in Lilies of the Field.

Phillis Wheatley

First known African-American woman to publish a book in 1773.

Thomas L. Jennings

Was the first African American to hold a patent: for a dry-cleaning process (In 1821)

Alexander Twilight

The first African American to receive a degree from an American college: Middlebury College (In 1823). Also the first to be elected into public office serving as a state legislature (in 1836).

Freedom's Journal

First African-American owned-and-operated newspaper (in 1827)

Henry Ossian Flipper

First African-American graduate of West Point and first African-American commissioned officer in the U.S. military (in 1877)

Moses Fleetwood Walker

First professional black baseball player (in 1884)

Sarah E. Goode

Becomes the first African-American women to get a patent - for a bed that folded into a cabinet (In 1885)

W.E.B. Du Bois

First African American to earn a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) from Harvard University (In 1895)

Mary Fields

First African-American woman to work for the United States Postal Service (In 1895)

Harry Lew

In 1902 he became the first African-American professional basketball player: (Played for the New England Professional Basketball League)

George Poage

First African American to win a medal in the Olympics - two bronze medals in track and field (1904)

Fritz Pollard

In 1916 he became the first African-American football player to play in a Rose Bowl game (he played for Brown University).

Mary McLeod Bethune

In 1938, she became the first African-American female federal agency head (National Youth Administration)

Hattie McDaniel

In 1940, she became the first African American to win an Academy Award (for Best Supporting Actress in Gone with the Wind)

Ralph Bunche

He was the first First African American to win Nobel Peace Prize, 1950

Althea Gibson

In 1950, she became the first African-American woman to compete on the world tennis tour

Princess Tiana

In 2009 she became the First African-American Disney Princess.

Ursula Burns

In 2009, she became the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company the Xerox Corporation.

Annette Gordon-Reed

In 2009, she became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for History (The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family)

Barack Obama, Politician

The 44th President of the United States and the First African American to be elected president of the U.S. in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012.

Michelle Obama

She became the first African-American First Lady of the United States in 2009.

Tyra Banks

She became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, in 1997.

Tiger Woods

In 1997, he became the first African American to win a men's major golf championship

Toni Morrison

In 1993 she became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, she wrote Beloved.

Dr. Mae Jemison

She is the first African-American woman astronaut. In 1992 she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

John Singleton

In 1991 he became the first African American nominated for a Best Director Academy Award for Boyz n the Hood

Guion Stewart "Guy" Bluford, Jr.

He is the first African-American astronaut he orbited on the Challenger mission STS-8, in 1983

Condoleezza Rice

She is the first African-American woman to be appointed as the Secretary of State in 2005.

Phylicia Rashād

She is the first African American to win Broadway theater's Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, in 2004.

Halle Berry

In 2002 she became first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress - for Monster's Ball, 2001.

Jackie Robinson

He was the first African American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, it was 1947.

Bessie Coleman

It was in 1921 when she became the first African-American woman to receive a pilot's license and the first to become a stunt pilot

Kamala Harris

In 2010, she became the first African-American attorney general of California.

Willie Lewis Brown, Jr.

In 1980 he became the first African-American speaker of the California State Assembly:

Frederick Madison Roberts

It was 1918 when he became the first African American elected to political office on the West Coast, California State Assembly

Tom Bradley

He became the first African American elected mayor of Los Angeles, California. The first to become mayor of a major Western city. He served from 1973 - 1993.

Desirée Rogers

2009 brought her to the White House as the first African-American White House Social Secretary.

Serena Williams

In 2003 she became the first African American to win a Career Grand Slam in tennis.

Duke Ellington

In 2009 he became the first African American to appear by himself on a circulating U.S. coin.

Colin Powell, Military and Politician

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He led US Forces during the first Gulf War. In 2001 he became the first African-American Secretary of State.

Dr. Ralph Bunche

He was the first non black to win the Noble Peace Prize for his work in mediating the Arab Israeli conflict in the 1940's, He helped form the United Nations.

Frederick Douglas

He was a self-educated slave who escaped in 1838 and became a leading figure in anti-slavery. He was well known as an abolitionist speaker. First African-American nominee for Vice President of the United States: by the Equal Rights Party (In 1872). He edited an anti-slavery weekly, the North Star.

Lewis Latimer

African-American inventor who played a key role in improving practical electrical lighting

Muhammad Ali

Boxer: United States prizefighter who won the world heavyweight championship three times (born in 1942)

Arthur Ashe

Tennis Player: United States tennis player who was the first Black to win United States and English singles championships (1943-1993)

Michael Jordon

Basketball player, considered to be the greatest to ever play the game. He is one of the most marketed sports figures

Jack Johnson

Boxer: First African American boxer to win the World Heavyweight title (1908), represented idea of the "New Negro" in early-1900s American culture. He was the most famous black of his time.

Tiger Woods

Golfer: Who was the first Black golfer to win the Masters Golf Tournament, one of the greatest golfers of all time and one of the highest paid professional athletes.

Willie Mays

Baseball Player: Black baseball hall-of-famer, played for New York Mets from 1950s to 1972. The "Say Hey Kid". He won two Most Valuable Player Awards and hit 660 home runs. He was considered the greatest all-around player of all time.

Jesse Owens

Track and Field: United States athlete and Black American who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin shredding Nazi Germany's image of Aryan racial superiority.

Bill Russell

Basketball Player and Coach: A basketball superstar who became the first African American to manage a major league sports team. During his playing career he won five Most Valuable Player Awards and 11 Championships with the Boston Celtics.

Joe Louis

One of the greatest boxers in history, the Brown Bomber became a national Hero he burst onto the professional boxing scene in 1934. Known to many as the "Brown Bomber," he emerged victorious from his first 27 fights, all but four of which he won in knockouts.

Jim Brown

Football Player: He led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons and scored 126 touchdowns. Widely considered the greatest pro-football player ever.

Hank Aaron

Baseball Player: He was a professional baseball player who broke Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974. He is a Hall of Famer who won baseball's Most Valuable Player Award in 1957.

Wilma Rudolph

Track and Field: Is a famous African American Track & Field star & first female to win three gold medals in a single Olympic game. She was known as the fastest woman on Earth.

Jackie Robinson

Baseball Player: He broke the Major League Baseball color barrier in 1947, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Richard Pryor

His trailblazing comedic style earned him two Emmy Awards, the American Academy of Humor Award, several gold and platinum comedy albums and five Grammy Awards. He was one of the most influential American comedians.

Whoopi Goldberg

Black female comedian, actress, and talk show host: She has one an Academy Award, An Emmy, A Grammy, and a Tony Award

Booker T. Washington

Educator & Leader
He emphasized education and family values as means for blacks to succeed. The national spokesperson for the African American cause at the turn of the 20th Century.

Percy Lavon Julian

He was the first African American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. He was a pioneer in the medicinal drug industry.

Russell Simmons

Co founder of the iconic Def Jam Brand. He was the driving force in the establishment of Hip Hop music and culture for mainstream.

Toni Morrison, Author and Professor

She was the first African American women to win a Nobel prize in literature. She is a celebrated novelist won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Berry Gordy, Jr.

He was an African American songwriter who formed the hugely popular record company Motown in the 1960's. This company played an important role in the racial integration of popular music.

Maya Angelou, Novelist, Poet, and Activist

In 1942 she became the first black San Francisco Streetcar Conductor. Civil rights activist, lecturer, and author wrote an autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". She has also written poetry and scripts for films and has acted in movies. On January 20, 1993, she read her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning" at William "Bill" Jefferson Clinton's 1993 Presidential Inauguration.

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Military General
He was the first African American General in the US Air Force & the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II

Madam C. J. Walker

In 1910 she became the first woman and the first African American millionaire, developing a line of hair and beauty products for women in the early part of the 20th century.

Langston Hughes, Poet, Author, & Playwright

He played a major role in the Harlem Renaissance, as an author of poems, plays, and essays juvenile fiction and biographies. He was called "Poet Laureate of Black America" and wrote the Weary Blues, Dream Deferred and the Negro Speaks of Rivers.

Charles Houston

Known as the man who abolished Jim Crow,he was involved in every major supreme court case involving desegregation including Brown vs. Brown

George Washington Carver

Scientist & Inventor
Revolutionized agriculture in the south through development of alternative crops to cotton. He also developed and promoted about 100 products made from peanuts that were useful for the house and farm.

Bob Johnson

Founder of BET. He was the first black majority owner of a pro sports team- the Charlotte Bobcats. He became the first African American billionaire in 2001.

Oprah Winfrey

Actress and Businesswoman
She created the highest rated talk show in television history. She is the richest African American & one of the most influential women in the world.

W. E. B. Du Bois

He was a Civil Rights Leader and one of the founders of the NAACP. In 1895 he was the first African-American to receive Ph.D. from Harvard.

Nat King Cole

Entertainer & Singer
1919-1965 The first African American to host a Variety Show. He was a pianist whose blended swing blues and pop ballads crossed over to white pop charts.

Aretha Franklin

A famous female African American singer, songwriter, and pianist. She has won 18 and has two honorary Grammy Awards. She is one of the greatest singers of all time and is referred to as The Queen of Soul

Alice Walker

She is the author of the novel, The Color Purple, she won on the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Carter G. Woodson

Historian & Writer
He earned a Ph.D. at Harvard. In 1915 he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. He established the Journal of Negro History and the Negro History Bulletin. He is the Father of Negro History Week now known as Black History Month

Shirley Chisholm

1st African American woman elected to Congress (NY) and later made a bid for the Democratic nomination in the 1972 presidential campaign

Rosa Parks

United States civil rights leader who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery (Alabama) and so triggered the Montgomery Boycott and national civil rights movement

Thurgood Marshall

Lawyer and Supreme Court Justice
The first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to becoming a judge, he was a lawyer who was best remembered for his activity in the Little Rock 9 and his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education

Harriet Tubman

American abolitionist. Born a slave on a Maryland plantation, she escaped to the North in 1849 and became the most renowned conductor on the Underground Railroad, leading more than 300 slaves to freedom.

Malcolm X

Minister & Civil Rights Leader
A controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, he argued that African Americans should work for social and political independence even if this included using violence as a means toward equity.

Mary McLead Bethune, Educator & Civil Rights Leader

In 1938, she became the first African American female federal agency head. She served as Director of Negro Affairs in National Youth Administration. She mentored a whole generation of black leaders and was an adviser to Elenore and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Minister & Civil Rights Leader
He was an African American Baptist Minister and Civil Rights Leader. He was a noted orator who opposed discrimination. He organized massive demonstrations of peaceful and nonviolent resistance. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

Bill Cosby

A comedian, actor, and producer. He is best known for his stand-up routines, including "Fat Albert," which later became an animated cartoon, and for his ground-breaking television series I Spy and The Cosby Show, which shaped the television image of the black family

Will Smith

This "Getting Jiggy With It" rapper has become a successful actor with eight straight #1 films at the box office including Men in Black. The Fresh Prince has a total of Four Grammy Awards.

Chuck Berry

Musician and Songwriter
An African-American rock 'n' roll musician and composer, who influenced many musicians of the 1950s and 1960s.

Quincy Jones

Musician and Composer
He is the most Grammy-nominated artist in the history of the awards with 79 nominations and 26 awards. He was the first African American musical director for the Academy Awards.

Miles Davis

He was a black jazz musician in the 1940's and 50's he was on the forefront of modern jazz and invented bebop. He aspired to challenge authority and encouraged people to stand up for civil rights.

Jessye Norman

In 1969 this opera singer who made her debut and has since sung in a variety of opera houses around the world.

Edward "Duke" Ellington

Bandleader, composer, pianist
As a jazz pianist and composer, he led his ten-piece orchestra at the cotton club. Known for the popular classic, "Take the 'A' Train."

Ida B. Wells Barnett. Editor/Anti-Lynching Crusader

Journalist and anti-lynching crusader who used the press to expose the harsh injustices faced by African Americans. And investigative reporter; she published The Red Record and was editor of the "Memphis Free Speech."

Dorothy Heights, National Council of Negro Women Chairperson

President Emeritus of National Council of Negro Women. The godmother of the women's movement. One of the "Big Six" in the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.

Tom Joyner

Talk Show Host:
He is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show and was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King National Historic Site in January 12, 2008

Alvin Ailey, Dancer Choreographer

In 1965, he took his group on one of the most successful European tours ever made by an American Dance company. He was awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1976

Gwendolyn Brooks, Poet

First African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was named consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.

Jim Crow

Laws written to separate blacks and whites in public areas/meant African Americans had unequal opportunities in housing, work, education, and government.


To abolish or eliminate segregation so places like schools or workplace become open to members of all races or ethnic groups.

Supreme Court

The highest federal court in the United States; it has the final appellate jurisdiction and has jurisdiction over all other courts in the nation

Brown vs. the Board of Education

1954- Stated the the segregation of public schools is unconstitutional and ordered that all states must eventually desegregate the schools
Case over-turned Plessy vs. Ferguson (separate but equal)


One who provides information


A person who guides or inspires others


A person with advanced knowledge of the sciences. That studies or practices any of the sciences or who uses scientific methods


A man engaged in business or who transact business. One who engages in industrial commercial enterprise.


A person who writes, especially as an occupation. This includes books, stories, screenplays, poems, or articles


Someone who takes direct action to achieve a political goal.


One who writes books, stories, screenplays, poems, or articles

Military General

A commissioned rank in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps that is above lieutenant general.


A writer of poems


An author of a play


One whose profession is to give legal advice and assistance and to provide representation in court or in other legal matters.

Black Entertainment Television

BET is part of BET Networks, it is the most prominent television network targeting young Black-American audiences and is the leading provider of Black-American cultural and entertainment-based programming


This is a person who creates or discovers a new method, form, other useful means, or device


The practice of cultivating the land or raising stock


Someone who helps to open up a new line of research, technology, or idea

National Academy of Sciences

An honorary American society of scientists created by President Lincoln during the American Civil War

Academy Award (Oscar)

An annual award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for achievements in motion picture production and performance

Grammy Award

It is the recognition for outstanding achievements in the music industry.

Tony Award

This award recognizes outstanding achievement in live Broadway theater.

Emmy Award

This award is for outstanding achievement in television

Nobel Prize

An annual award for outstanding contributions to physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in these areas. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize.

Motown Records

A record company; it played an important role of the integration of African American music into popular music

Medicinal Drug Industry

Plants and other substances grown that have a therapeutic value for the body

Def Jam

Co-founded in 1984 by the hip hop promoter Russell Simons and the musician-produced Rick Rubin. During the 1980s, It cross-promoted a new generation of artists, expanding and diversifying the national audience for hip hop, and in 1986 became the first rap oriented independent label to sing a distribution deal with one of the "Big Five" record companies, Columbia Records.

Pulitzer Prize

The prestigious award given annually for excellence in American journalism, literature, and music.

President of the United States

The leader of executive branch of government and the nation's head of state. This office is elected every 4 years and promises to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Also the leader of the United States military.

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