To celebrate two years since launching the Because of Them We Can™ campaign, we are launching a new set of "28 days, 28 photos" to Celebrate Black History Month and Connect a New Generation to Heroes, Past and Present, Who Have Paved the Way! Like Because of Them We Can by Eunique Jones to tune in on Facebook our check back here every morning to start your day with a dose of inspiration and hope from the past and the future. In addition to tuning in, help us reach our goal of 100,000 pledges during Black History Month by taking the Because of Them We Can pledge here.
February 1, 2015
27 years ago, Doug Williams blazed a trail when he became the first African American quarterback to play in and win a Superbowl.
February 2, 2015
While Stuart Scott wasn't the first African American sports anchor at ESPN, he was certainly one of, if not, the most influential. He fought. He won. And we salute him. Booyah!
February 3, 2015
Lena Horne was a fierce actress, singer, and civil rights activist whose stance against playing roles that portrayed African Americans in a disrespectful manner, helped transform the way Hollywood viewed and portrayed Black women.
February 4, 2015
Desmond Tutu was the first Black Archbishop of Cape Town and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his role in ending apartheid in South Africa. At 83 he is still a voice for human rights and equality.
February 5, 2015
Lorraine Hansberry was a trailblazing playwright and writer whose play, A Raisin in the Sun, was the first play written by a Black woman to appear on Broadway. She was also the inspiration behind Nina Simone's song "To be Young, Gifted and Black."
February 6, 2015
John Legend is an award-winning musician whom we honor for not only his amazing contributions as an artist, but for also using his voice and influence to shed light on matters involving education, justice and equality.
February 7, 2015
Ralph Abernathy was a leader in the civil rights movement. He helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was known to many as Martin Luther King Jr's right-hand man.
February 8, 2015
Ella Fitzgerald was known as the First Lady of Song and the Queen of Jazz. In 1958 she blazed one of many trails when she became the first African American woman to win a Grammy.
February 9, 2015
There are people throughout history who have marched, protested and sacrificed on our behalf whose names and stories we may never know. Like these two men who marched in Selma in 1965... To those past and present who fall within this category, we see you, we thank you and we salute you!
February 10, 2015
Mo’ne Davis made history in 2014 when she played in the Little League World Series tournament and became the first girl in the 75-year history to pitch a shutout.
February 11, 2015
Jesse Williams is an actor who has been compared to Harry Belafonte for being outspoken and actively involved in advocating for truth, justice and equality for African Americans whether the cameras are rolling or not. He is a present day example of celebrity activism gone right.
February 12, 2015
These trailblazing women epitomized strength, class and bold actions!
Betty Shabazz - Civil rights activist and wife of Malcolm X.
Dorothy Height - The Queen of the Civil Rights Movement. She was also President of the National Council of Negro Women and the 10th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Shirley Chisholm - The 1st Black congresswoman & the 1st Black woman to seek a major party nomination for President of the United States.
Marian Anderson - The 1st African American invited to perform at the White House and the 1st African American singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1939, when denied the ability to sing at Constitution Hall, she took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and sang before a crowd of 75,000.
February 13, 2015
C.T Vivian is a well-respected preacher and civil rights leader who has worked on the front lines of the civil rights movement; from organizing the first "sit-ins" in Nashville, to riding the first "Freedom Bus" into Mississippi to confronting Sheriff Jim Clark outside of the Selma Courthouse. It is said that Dr. King referred to him as "the greatest preacher to ever live." He is a true example of faith in action.
February 14, 2015
Michelle Alexander is a civil rights advocate, lawyer and the author of the best-selling book,“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” In it Alexander details how the war on drugs created a system of racial control that disproportionately affects the African American community. In addition to bringing attention to decades worth of systematic racism via the criminal justice system, Michelle Alexander is also doing the work necessary to help reform it.
February 15, 2015
Chuck Stone was a trailblazer in many ways. He was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II, a newspaper columnist, an educator, a civil rights activist and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.
In 1972 he became the first Black columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. There he merged his passion for justice and equality with the power of his pen. He worked to expose and denounce police corruption and brutality so much so that suspected criminals started surrendering to him in order to ensure that their condition was documented and that their safety was secured. That's what "telling it like it is" is all about!
February 16, 2015
Grace Jones is the epitome of a trendsetter. She is an actress, singer and a fashion icon, known for her unique look and her fearless style. As a supermodel, she re-defined what it meant to be Black and beautiful in an era when pop culture's definition of "Black and beautiful" didn't look like her. As a Grammy nominated singer, she has influenced artists such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Annie Lennox. Whether singing, modeling or playing a Bond Girl (or Strangé) on the big screen, she has done it by marching to the beat of her own drum.
February 17, 2015
Sadie T. M. Alexander was a pioneering woman who wouldn't settle for the words "no" or "not now". In 1919 she became the first National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In 1921, she became the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D in Economics in the United States and the 2nd Black woman in the country to receive a doctoral degree (Georgiana Simpson received hers the day before). Ironically, while she received her Ph.D in economics, due to race and gender discrimination she was unable to obtain an ideal job within her field. This, however, did not stop her. As a result, she applied to law school and became the first African American woman admitted to the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the first African American woman to receive a Law Degree from the institution and the first African American woman to pass and be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. She would go on to practice family, real estate and civil rights law within her husband's law firm; tackling Pennsylvania's color barriers as one of the country's first husband and wife legal teams.
What's equally as impressive is that she managed to accomplish all of this and more while balancing her family life as a wife and a mother.
February 18, 2015
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an author and an award-winning astrophysicist. He is arguably one of the most visible and well-known scientist in the world today. His interest in astronomy began at the age of nine after attending the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He would go on to hone his curiosity in science from that moment on. After graduating from The Bronx High School of Science, Tyson went on to obtain his bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard University; his master's degree in astronomy from the University of Texas; and both his master's and his Ph.D in astrophysics from Columbia University. In a full circle moment, 29 years after visiting the Hayden Planetarium, he took over as the planetarium's director.
In 2007, TIME named him one of the 100 most interesting people in the world. This upcoming April, we will have the opportunity to learn more about Tyson, the universe and the cross-section of science and pop culture when he launches his first late night talk-show on National Geographic. He is proof that a seed planted will bloom if you water it!
February 19, 2015
Lupita Nyong'o is the embodiment of three words - Black is Beautiful. She is the first Black African to win an Academy Award and the first Black ambassador for the luxury beauty brand, Lancôme. In a world where the skin-whitening industry is a multi-billion dollar business, bent on making beauty synonymous with light skin, Lupita Nyong'o's unaltered image, confidence and success is a much needed example for women and young girls across the globe. If you haven't already, check out her acceptance speech from last year's Black Women in Hollywood event bit.ly/1EV46Mm