Black History Heroes You May Never Have Heard Of

Jane Bolin

Jane Bolin became the nation’s first Black woman judge in 1939. She was the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, and would serve on New York’s Family Court for four decades. Besides dealing with many domestic cases, she worked to stop probation officers from getting assignments based on the color of their skin. During her career, she also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to create a program that would intervene before young boys committed crimes.

Claudette Colvin

Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, a then 15-year-old Claudette Colvin did the same. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was taking the bus home from high school when the driver ordered her to give up her seat, according to NPR. Colvin refused, saying she paid her fare and it was her constitutional right, but was then arrested by two police officers. Colvin later became the main witness in the federal lawsuit Browder v. Gayle, which ended segregation on public transportation in Alabama.

Dorothy Height

Height has been called the matriarch of the civil rights movement and often worked outside of the public eye. After receiving two degrees from New York University in the 1930s, Height worked for the New York City Welfare Department and then became the assistant executive director of the Harlem Y.M.C.A. She was involved in anti-lynching protests, brought public attention to the exploitation of African-American women working in “slave markets,” and escorted First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to the National Council of Negro Women, a council she served on for more than 40 years. In the 1950s, she lobbied President Dwight D. Eisenhower to take an aggressive stance on school desegregation issues. Height also worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and she stood on the platform with as he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in August 1963.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Dr. Crumpler was the first African-American woman physician in the United States. Born in 1831, Dr. Crumpler first worked as a nurse in Massachusetts between 1852 and 1860. She was accepted to New England Female Medical College and earned an M.D. in 1864. She practiced medicine in Boston and Richmond, Virginia, primarily working with the poor, who had limited access to medical care. In 1883, Dr. Crumpler published a renowned book, Book of Medical Discourses In Two Parts, which many believe is the first medical text written by an African-American author.

Inspiring Quotes for Black History Month

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