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Five Black Americans Who Shaped Our History

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Black History month is significant to the black community. It is a month to honor African Americans who rose above hatred and racism despite the obstacles in their paths. It is a reminder to us of their resilience and how a single culture can advance an entire society. While there are the household names of people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, here are five other African-Americans that changed the country.

Muhammad Ali: Also known as “The Greatest,” Ali is famous for his impeccable boxing skills and his activism. He adamantly took a stance about the Vietnam War and refused to be drafted. Ali risked everything. His title was revoked, and he had a warrant out for arrest due to draft evasion. “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” This was Muhammad’s response to the backlash of his refusal to serve. In the black community, he is praised for speaking out and fighting for what is right.


Richard Allen: Born a slave and also known as “Negro Richard,” he later became the founder of the African Methodist Church in America. Opening his first church at an old blacksmith shop in 1794, Allen began preaching the word of God and focused his sermons on the freedom of slaves, the education of youths, and temperance. His church was also used as a safe house since it was one of the stops of the underground railroad. He used this to his advantage by teaching black children during the day and the adults during the night. The African Methodist Church continues to praise its founder by having the motto: God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family.


Maya Angelou: She is the woman who turned her sufferings into literature. Angelou had a rough childhood. She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, and after he was convicted, he was beaten to death. Angelou spent the next five years of her life silenced, believing that her voice killed a man. With the encouragement of her teacher, Maya began to write about her ordeal. Angelou recovered and began to write about her unashamed past as when she was a sex worker. In 1969, she wrote her most famous work; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Her perseverance helped as an example to many people in her community about how to communicate pain into art.


Ella Baker: After Martin Luther King Jr., there was an Ella Baker. At a young age, Baker craved for social justice thanks to her grandmother, a previous slave refusing to marry a man of her masters choosing. In the 1940’s she became an NAACP field secretary who convinced black people that society could exist without discrimination. After the refusal of four black college students to leave at lunch counter at Woolworth’s in North Carolina, Baker prompted to create the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In this committee, she taught young folk that to dream for a better life, it must be nonviolent. She believed that educating young people was a critical catalyst for the civil rights movement. As a result, she earned the Swahili nickname Fundi which means an individual who teaches a craft for the next generation.


Shirley Chisholm: Politician Shirley Chisholm became the first black congresswoman. During her tenure, she advocated for minorities, the uneducated, unemployed, and health and social services. Chisholm revealed that she faced discrimination for not only being black but for also being female. “Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt,” she said. Shirley did not just stop at the House of Representatives though. She became the first black woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

It is 2019, and sadly black America continues to fight for issues that should not even exist. There is still time for change, but it will take a lot of willpower. With the examples of these strong African Americans and many others, the youth can and will create change. Who knows, maybe in the future you will end up on this list too.

About the Writer
Kelly Cervantes, Section Editor

 

Hi! My name is Kelly Cervantes. I am 17 years old and I am senior at Taft. Some information

about me is that I am very tiny (5ft). I am Mexican...

1 Comment

One Response to “Five Black Americans Who Shaped Our History”

  1. Melanie P on March 4th, 2019 1:31 pm

    This was a very informative article! I’ve heard about Muhammad Ali and his boxing career, but I never knew about his refusal to be drafted in the Vietnam war. Great job.

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