By Hannah DiPilato
February is Black History Month and 360 Magazine would like to recognize some historic people of color who have become a positive influence on society. In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement skyrocketed and brought attention to the diversity that still exists within our community. Although society has come a long way from the early 1900s when segregation ran rampant, the movement for equality has a long way to go. From inventors to musicians, there are a number of successful people we would like to acknowledge in honor of Black History Month.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Arguably one of the most important leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King spent his time preaching for equality in a peaceful way. He will always be remembered for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and his ability to lead others in this historical movement. Dr. King is one of the most influential
Joseph E. Lowery
Joseph E. Lowery is the grandfather of 360 Magazine’s President Vaughn Lowery and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference alongside Dr. King. Throughout his life, Lowery served as vice president, chairman of the board and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as well as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
George Washington Carver
Many people are familiar with George Washington Carver for his inventive skills. He made over 300 products from peanuts and as an agricultural scientist promoted methods to prevent soil depletion.
Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. is to thank for the invention of traffic lights as well as gas masks. Every time you stop at a red light, take a moment to think of Morgan for this essential technology.
As the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama made an impact as the 44th president and showed young people of color they have representation in politics. He continues to use his voice to connect with the American people.
Keeping in the theme of politics, Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman vice president, the first African American vice president and the first Asian American vice president. She’s giving young women of color everywhere a sense of representation.
Madam C.J. Walker
As the first recorded female self-made millionaire in America, Madam C.J. Walker was an influential entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist of her time.
Frederick McKinley Jones
Frederick McKinley Jones was the co-founder of Thermo King and he brought incredible improvement to long-haul transportation of perishable goods. Jones also won the National Medal of Technology.
Stevland Hardaway Morris, better known as Stevie Wonder, is a musical prodigy that became blind after birth and learned to play the harmonica, piano and drums by age nine. He is now a notable singer, songwriter, musician and record producer.
Lonnie Johnson is known for his success as an aerospace engineer. He has worked on the U.S. Air Force term of service and has also worked at NASA for twelve years including in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
As an ophthalmologist, Patricia Bath was an early innovator of laser cataract surgery. She was also the first woman, African American physician to receive a patent for a medical invention.
One TV personality almost everyone is familiar with is Oprah. Known for her television show The Oprah Winfrey Show, she has made waves in the world of entertainment. She is also known for co-producing a Broadway musical version of The Color Purple, establishing O, The Oprah Magazine, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) as well as creating Oprah.com.
After being born into slavery, Harriet Tubman was a conductor of the Underground Railroad and helped many enslaved men and women escape. She led many people to freedom with her bravery and connection with antislavery activists.
Rosa Parks gained her notoriety as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement and is known for starting the Montgomery bus boycott after refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. She has been called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement” by the United States Congress.
John Lewis was chairman Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as well as one of the “Big Six” leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He was an essential part of the Civil Rights Movement and ending legalized racial segregation.
If you’ve ever ridden in an elevator, you can thank Alexander Miles for the automatic opening doors; he was awarded the patent for this invention in 1887. Mills was riding in an elevator with his daughter and he deemed an elevator shaft door left open could be dangerous.
Mary Kenner was an inventor famous for her development of the sanitary belt, the precursor to the self-adhesive maxi pad. However, due to racial discrimination, the idea wasn’t adopted for thirty years. She has five patents for various household items.
Known for her many famous pieces of writing, Maya Angelou was a poet, memoirist and civil rights activist. Over fifty years, she wrote a number of autobiographies, essays, poems, plays, movies and television shows. She also received over 50 honorary degrees as well as awards for her writing.
Along with being considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time, LeBron James also started the LeBron James Family Foundation to help create generational change for the children and families of LeBron’s hometown in Akron, Ohio.
As a popular spokesperson at the time of the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X encouraged Black Americans to protect themselves against racism. He preached a much different lesson than Martin Luther King Jr. who preached nonviolence.
Thurgood Marshall was the Supreme Court’s first African American justice as well as a prominent civil rights activist. He served on the court for 24 years and helped with influential rulings at the time of the Civil Rights Movement such as the case of Brown v. Board of Education.
Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the United States during the 20th century. He broke the color barrier of the MLB when he played for the National League Brooklyn Dodgers as second baseman with the jersey number 42.