Historic heroes

When thinking of Black History Month, it is common to think of the iconic and well-known idols such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks,  or Barack Obama. There are people who have made just as an impact but are not talked about as much as the four mentioned before. Learning about the people who crafted America and Black Culture as we now see it makes Black History Month all that more special.

4. Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm is known as the first African American woman to become a Congresswoman and the first African American to hold run for a major political party. Chisholm served seven terms as a congresswoman and made a big impact for all African Americans and Women in the nation. Chisholm was a big activist for women’s rights and civil rights, she strongly believed in equal rights for all people, “If I can help to bring about the change and move in that direction, I will have made my contribution.”

There was not much she was not passionate about, she took part in the Urban League, the League of Women Voters, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where her work continued to affect many political and social situations. Chisholm strongly believed in the power of speech, she believed that the right words could make a very big impact on any situation, whether it was political or not. 

Chisholm is now becoming more known as she is starting to be more included in history books. Many teachers scrub learning about Chisholm due to the fact that there is limited knowledge there is about her in textbooks. To get students more excited to learn about Shirley Chisholm is to give them a challenge to create their own campaign slogan, like her classic “Unbought and Unbossed”. “Unbought and Unbossed,” a quote used by the infamous Shirley Chisholm as she ran for the Democratic party nomination. Shirley Chisholm worked hard to be the person she was and she will be known for many great things.


3. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Artists are commonly known for their creative way of expressing themselves, one artist known for being incredibly unique was Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat was known as a person intune with their emotions and his impact on the world, “I had some money, I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs. I was awful to people.” Jean-Michel Basquiat died at the age 27 on August 12, 1988 of a drug overdose but he lives on today in his work. 

Basquiat art was described as primitive because of the child-like drawings he created and use of colors. Many of his art works were very abstract with a message that could be interpreted in many different ways. Basquiat hardly ever had any works of art that didn’t have any loud colors and one of his most famous art works was called “King Alphonso” really highlights the type of art he was known to create.

Basquiat started off as a graffiti artist after he dropped out of high school. Friends with the iconic Pop Artist Andy Warhol, he was always thinking of new and creative ways to create the world. Together he and Warhol have created many artworks, they were friends in and outside their work. Jean-Michel Basquiat art will be known for a long time as other people study and admire his work.


2. Jane Bolin

Most people will never hear about Jane Bolin in school. Bolin was born in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1908 to an irracial couple, as a child she was very intelligent working hard to graduate from high school in her mid-teens. During this time, women were not really attending school, they were taking care of the home and children but after the death of her mother all she witnessed at a young age all she was witness to was her father and his hard work as an attorney.


To attend college, Bolin had to face discrimmination because of her gender and skin color, this caused her to become slightly isolated socially, “I am saddened and maddened even nearly half a century later to recall many of my Wellesley experiences, but my college days for the most part evoke sad and lonely personal memories”  

Nonetheless she still attended Wellesley College, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and was the top of her own class. After graduating from Wellesley, Bolin goes and attends Yale Law School becoming the first woman to ever attend the university, making a huge step for woman and african american woman all over the nation. 

While attending Yale Bolin still faced lots of social hardships, she was still socially isolated from her peers with her being the only woman at university and to make it worse she was an african american woman. With lots of determination and patience Bolin goes to graduate from Yale University and then makes a new dent in history by becoming the first woman judge. Jane Bolin broke through all hardships and made a huge impact in history.

1. Henrietta Lacks

Hearing that something was stolen from you is not uncommon, people usually just take something materialistic from you well that is not the case for Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer and before Lacks died the doctors treating her decided to take a sample of her tumor without her permission. When they took them to the lab for testing they realized that her cells were still living and began to use them for testing for vaccines. Lack’s cells played a big part in the developing the polio vaccine.

For many years, Henrietta Lacks, was not credited for the scientific achievements her cells accomplished. The code name of the cells, HeLa, were from the first two letters of her first and last name Henrietta Lacks, but they tried to say it’s from many different things like Helen Lane, to keep the media from knowing and her family from finding out. Henrietta Lack is the reason we have one of the most important vaccines to date, the polio vaccine.

Black History Month is remembering the black people who made a difference in the world and really impacted how we see the world today.