Bayard Rustin, a civil rights leader who was jailed repeatedly for his association with social disturbances and his open homosexuality. Rustin was an activist and advisor to Dr.Martin Luther King,Jr. He was key in the organization of the famous March on Washington.

Phillis Wheatley was the first published African American female author. She was a servant who published her first poem at the age of 12 in the mid 1700s.

Halle Berry was the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball.

Dorothy Dandridge was the first African American woman nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for her lead role in Carmen Jones.

Another African American responsible for scientific advances is Henrietta Lacks. Though her cells were taken without her consent, they were responsible for what scientists know as HeLa cells, or the first immortal cell line. This was critical in medical research and the creation of vaccines for polio, advances in cloning, vitro fertilization, and much more.

Aretha Franklin and her iconic, powerhouse voice was something to behold. She was not only the first African American woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she was the first woman. Period!

Madam C.J. Walker was the first self-made female millionaire. She built her wealth when she invented and distributed a line of hair care products in the early 1900s.

Benjamin Banneker was a self-taught astronomer credited as the first African-American scientist. But do you realize what a feat it was to be a freeman, a farm owner and scientist in the 1700s? On top of all of this, Banneker was also appointed by President George Washington to the District of Columbia Commission.His talent for creating almanacs allowed him to lay out plans and designs for the city.

W.E.B.DuBois was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D.from Harvard University. He graduated in 1895 and went on to co-found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

Ben Carson was the first surgeon to separate twins conjoined at the head.

Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.Before that he played a pivotal role in the Brown v Board  of Education case?The results of this case made it possible for all children to attend school together, regardless of their race.

Nat King Cole and his unparalleled voice was the first African American to reach #1 on the Billboard charts? Cole was also the first African American to host his own television show.

Claudette Colvin was a school girl who refused to give up her seat on the bus and was taken to jail nine months before Rosa Parks. Sadly, because she was an unwed mother, Colvin did not receive the massive public support that Parks did.

Sojourner Truth escaped from slavery in 1826 and became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

Professor Angela Davis was iconic in the 1960’s. In the early 1970s, she was once placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list and then incarcerated due to her social activism and political affiliations. Supporters rallied for Davis, launching the “Free Angela Davis” campaign, and she was later acquitted.

Horne was a beautiful and talented actress. She became very involved with the civil rights movement and refused to take roles that negatively stereotyped or belittled African American women.

Josephine Baker, a gorgeous African American performer was pioneering to say the least. Aside from her comedic and sensual stage shows, Baker was known for her brave actions during World War II when she smuggled secret information for the French Resistance on her sheet music.

The historic riot that broke out in Watts, Calif. in 1965. Rioters ransacked and burned the city over a span of several days, making the Watts Riot the most costly disturbance of its day.

The Tulsa Race Riot. In 1921, an entire city was burned to the ground due to a racial disturbance and retaliation. It is estimated that more than 300 people were killed overnight during the riot. The thriving city that was once called “Black Wall Street” has never regained its status.

Arthur Ashe, the African American male to win both the U.S.Open and Wimbledon. He is still the only one to do so. On top of his abilities on the tennis court, Ashe was a civil rights activist and a prominent figure in the fight against AIDS.