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The younger generations probably don’t know this name, but back in the days, Eartha Mae Kitt was a very popular actor, singer, comedian and dancer. If we take a close look at her career, we will notice that Kitt was something like Beyonce of the 40s and 50s. She had a typical life for a Black person of that time. She was born in 1927 on a cotton plantation farm in South Carolina. She had a very stressful childhood because she was actually a result of a rape – the landowner raped her mother. This is the reason why her mother left South Carolina and settled in New York City and Eartha moved there when she was still under 18 years old. But, this move has proven to be useful because she soon stepped into the world of showbiz. Her role in the Dr. Faustus movie by Orson Wells made her a superstar. She also appeared in many popular TV shows and movies after that, but what makes Kitt special is the fact that she was a devoted activist for human rights. She continued to raise her voice against social injustice until she died in 2008.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Another person who deserves to be mentioned during Black History Month is Henry Louis Gates Jr. He is a famous historian born in 1950. He was actively involved in many mini-series although his main work is in the field of cultural and history studies. What is interesting is that Gates Jr. was the first Black person to get an Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellowship. In addition, Henry Louis Gates Jr. gave the so-called Jefferson Lecture which is a great honor because this activity is organized by the federal government and only exceptional intellectuals have the chance to give this lecture. Ironically, Gates Jr. was involved in a case of racial profiling a couple of years ago when he was questioned by the police when he was trying to enter his home.
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
This famous Black person was actually the first resident of Chicago on record. Even though Chicago area was settled before, he was the first recorded permanent resident in this area in the late 18th century. He constructed a cabin on the Chicago River where he lived with his wife and children. Jean Baptiste was able to establish good relations with the native Indians in this region. As a matter of fact, they respected him so much that he agreed to show him some of the survival, hunting and other skills they knew. Thanks to his newly acquired knowledge du Sable opened several trading posts. Another interesting fact is that Jean Baptiste and his wife were the first married couple in Chicago. In addition, he was in trouble with the British army during the American Civil War because they thought that he was a spy. There is no doubt that Mr. Du Sable was an extraordinary man with many skills and he is definitely a symbol for a persistent and clever Black person.
Anna Arnold Hedgeman
Of course, there are many important Black women that should be mentioned too and Anna Arnold Hedgeman is one of them. Anna was a politician, writer and civil rights activist. She was the first Black student in one of the most famous universities in Montana – Hamline University. She finished college without any problems and decided to become a teacher. During her work she noticed many cases of racial injustice and that’s why she decided to take some action. She started introducing certain changes in the Howard University where she worked as an assistant dean of women. Hedgman was the first Black woman on a mayoral cabinet position in New York. On top of that, she wrote several interesting books like The Trumpet Sounds, The Gift of Chaos and many essays and articles mostly related to civil rights. Anna Arnold Hedgeman has inspired many young African-American women in their efforts to get better education. With a role model like this, it is not hard to find inspiration and motivation.