February marks Black History Month, an annual observance to remember and honor African-Americans and events in history.
Leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, and many others, have left a mark on American history that has changed the course for many social justice revolutions across the nation.
To commemorate their work, we take the time to recognize and celebrate their fight for equality and justice. African-American role models have charted new courses in black excellence, helping to create history!
1991-First African-American woman to serve as mayor for a major U.S. city: Sharon Pratt
1991-First African-American driver to qualify for the Indy 500: Willy T. Ribbs
1992-First African-American woman in space: Dr. Mae Jemison
1993-First African-American appointed surgeon general of the United States: Dr. Joycelyn Elders
1993-First African-American named U.S. poet laureate: Rita Dove
1994-First African-American to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature: Toni Morrison
1994-First African-American to host the Academy Awards: Whoopi Goldberg
1997-First African-American to win the Masters golf tournament: Tiger Woods
1999-First African-American chess international grandmaster: Maurice Ashley
2001-First African-American president of an Ivy League institution: Dr. Ruth Simmons
2001-First African-American billionaire: Robert Johnson. Johnson is an entrepreneur and founder of BET
2001-First African-American named secretary of state: Gen. Colin Powell
2002-First African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress: Halle Berry
2002-First African-American to earn a gold medal at the Winter Games: Vonetta Flowers. Vonetta Flowers is awarded gold medal in the women’s bobsled competition during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
2005-First African-American woman named secretary of state: Dr. Condoleezza Rice
2006-First African-American to reach the peak of Mount Everest: Sophia Danenberg
2006-First African-American to earn an individual gold medal at the Winter Games: Shani Davis
2007-First African-American pilot to fly solo around the world: Barrington Irving Jr.
2008-Senator Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be nominated as a major party nominee for president. He subsequently becomes the first African- American to be elected president of the United States.
2008-First African-American to launch his own film and television studio: Tyler Perry
2008-First African-American to referee a Super Bowl: Mike Carey
2009-Barack Obama becomes the first African American president and the country’s 44th president.
2009-First African-American U.S. attorney general: Eric Holder
2009-First African-American to lead the Environmental Protection Agency: Lisa Perez Jackson
2012-Barack Obama is reelected to the presidency.
2013-First African-American president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Cheryl Boone Isaacs
2015-First African-American woman named U.S. attorney general: Loretta Lynch
2015-First African-American promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre: Misty Copeland