Hidden Figures of Black History Month

Sophia White, Staff Writer

2022 marks the 52nd anniversary of Black History Month, which started as “Black History Week” by a Harvard historian named Carter G. Woodson. Black History Month is the month to celebrate all the African Americans who have changed and impacted our world for the better. Although Rosa Parks and MLK, Jr are great examples, there are so many more people that we never talk about.

Erin Jackson

Recently, American Erin Jackson has become the first black woman to win a gold medal in speed skating at the 2022 Olympics. Speed skating is when competitors race on ice skates for a certain distance. She started speed skating in 2017 and had her first Olympic competition in 2018.

Further Reading: “Speed Skater Erin Jackson Shares How Representation in Winter Sports Can Make All the Difference” by Carolyn L. Todd

Claudette Colvin

Many say Claudette Colvin is the “Rosa Parks” before Rosa Parks. At only 15, she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. This was only 9 months before Rosa Parks did the same. However, some say Claudette is not as well known as Rosa Parks because she was not a good example of the Civil Rights Movement at the time because of her many experiences she dealt with. She is now 82 years old and has a book out based on her life called Twice Towards Justice.

Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan

You may have heard of these names in a movie called Hidden Figures. These three African-American women worked at NASA in the 1960s. Because of them, Astronaut John Glenn launched into orbit which was a very important achievement during the Soviet space race. They were extremely smart when it comes to math and calculated many important equations necessary to have a safe launch.

Further Reading: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan was the first African-American woman to be elected to the Texas Senate. In 1972 she ran for Congress and won which makes her the first southern African American to serve in the house of representatives. She worked for the people and fought vehemently for their rights. She once said “We as human beings must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.”

Further Reading: Barbara Jordan: A Self Portrait

Fredrick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. George K. Warren. (National Archives Gift Collection)
Exact Date Shot Unknown
NARA FILE #: 200-FL-22
WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 113 (Unknown)

Fredrick Douglass was an abolitionist and former slave who escaped from Maryland. He wrote many books and was not only an advocate for African Americans rights but also for women’s rights to vote. He taught himself to read and write and taught other slaves how to read the Bible. Not only did he write a book and go on tour all over the world, but he also started his own abolitionist newspaper called the North Star.

Further Reading: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.