Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, on a cotton plantation near Delta, Louisiana. Her parents, Owen and Minerva, were recently freed slaves, and Sarah, who was their fifth child, was the first in her family to be free-born. Minerva Breedlove died in …

Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height Born on March 24, 1912, in Richmond, Virginia, African-American activist Dorothy Height spent her life fighting for civil rights and women’s rights. The daughter of a building contractor and a nurse, Height moved with her family to Rankin, Pennsylvania, in her youth. There, she attended racially integrated schools. …

Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin Claudette Colvin was born on September 5, 1939, in Montgomery, Alabama. Months before Rosa Parks, Colvin stood up against segregation in Alabama in 1955, when she was only 15 years old. She also served as a plaintiff in the landmark legal case Browder v. Gayle, which helped end the …

Ella Baker

Ella Baker Born in Norfolk, Virginia, on December 13, 1903, Ella Baker was one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She grew up in rural North Carolina. Baker was close to her grandmother, a former slave. Her grandmother told Baker many stories …

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. traveled and studied internationally before becoming the head of Harvard’s African-American studies department. He is an acclaimed author and critic who has unearthed an array of literary gems; he has also hosted …

Dr. Angela Davis

Dr. Angela Davis Angela Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. Davis is best known as a radical African-American educator and activist for civil rights and other social issues. She knew about racial prejudice from her experiences with discrimination growing up in Alabama. As a teenager, Davis …

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland, around 1818. The exact year and date of Douglass’s birth are unknown, though later in life he chose to celebrate it on February 14. Douglass initially lived with his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey. At a young …

Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune Born Mary Jane Mcleod on July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina, Mary Mcleod Bethune was a leading educator and civil rights activist. She grew up in poverty, as one of 17 children born to former slaves. Everyone in the family worked, and many toiled in the …

W.E.B. DuBois

W.E.B. DuBois William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois (1868-1963) was a leading African-American sociologist, writer, and activist. Educated at Harvard University and other top schools, Du Bois studied with some of the most important social thinkers of his time. He earned fame for the publication of such works …

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer was born Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She was the youngest of 20 children. Her parents were sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta area. Hamer began working the fields when she was only 6 years old. …
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