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Last Updated: Apr 21st, 2011 - 14:44:53 

Black History Month

Black History: People & Organizations
By Sarah Lane, Cynthia Kirkeby
Jan 15, 2011, 12:48 PST

People and Organizations

People and Organizations

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The following is a list of people who made a significant impact on the Civil Rights Movement.  Included below are short biographies and some important dates relevant to Black History Month.  Remember, there are many other people who made significant contributions but it would be an impossible task to list them all.  Use the Black History – Study Links for more information.  Also click on the individual names for a more detailed account. 


Quick Jumps

People:  Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks


Organizations:   NAACP, SCLC, 1st Pan African Congress


The People


Frederick Douglass 1818-1895

Named by his Mother as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, he picked up the name Douglass several years later.  After learning the basics of reading and writing from one of his owners, he began his self-education.  Frederick Douglass did much for the anti-slavery movement and was a forceful and eloquent speaker as well.  He published two newspapers, the North Star and the New National Era.  President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him to the post of U.S. Marshal for the District of Colombia.


W.E.B. Du Bois 1868-1963

William Edward Burghardt was an African American scholar, an early leader in the 20th Century African-American protest movement and an advocate of Pan-Africanism.  His goal was to present evidence to refute the myths of racial inferiority.  In 1905 he was the founder and general secretary of Niagara movement, an African protest group of scholars and professionals.  He was also among the founders of the NAACP.  W.E.B. Du Bois will be remembered as a poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, sociologist, historian and journalist.


Langston Hughes 1902-1967

Hughes was a prominent poetry and prose writer and had several publications.  Among them were The Weary Blues (1926), Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927), and his fist novel, Not Without Laughter (1930).  He wrote poems, essays, book reviews, song lyrics, plays, and short stories.  His work has been translated into over a dozen languages, which earned him an international reputation unlike any other African American writer.


Sojourner Truth 1797-1883

Truth was a slave who spoke out against racial oppression and acted on her beliefs.  Besides becoming a traveling preacher after gaining her freedom, she was heavily involved in a succession of religious movements.  She was active in the Women’s Rights Suffrage Movement of 1851 and her most famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” is still talked about today.


Harriet Tubman 1820-1913

Harriet was a spy, nurse, feminist, and social reformer.  She escaped from bondage and for 16 years guided over 300 slaves to freedom in the North by way of a secret network of safe houses later called the Underground Railroad.  She was known as the “Moses of her people”.  She built the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Colored People in 1908.  During World War II a liberty ship was christened the Harriet Tubman in her honor.  Tubman led many people to freedom and helped to undermine the institution of slavery.


Rosa Parks 1913-2005

A Civil Rights Activist, Parks is well known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a racially segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  Her action led to the successful boycott of Montgomery buses by African-American riders.  She also worked with the NAACP Youth Council & the SCLC.  She served as a deaconess at the Saint Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church and was a public speaker that discussed her role in the Civil Rights Movement.  In 1988 she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development and in July of 1999 she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.


Additional Black History Biographies Available From the Gale Group


Source:     The Gale Group



The Organizations


NAACP 1909-Present

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stems from the idea that all men and women are create equal.  Despite the threat of violence and racist government policies, the NAACP has continued to persevere.  Their goals are to fight intense legal battles, address social injustices, and to organize nationwide protests.  They protested the introduction of segregation into the Federal government, presented publicly the facts about lynching, staged non-violent sit-ins, registered African-American voters and vied for the admission of African-Americans into institutions of higher learning.  Without their presence in society, a vast majority of social injustices would have gone unnoticed and racial segregation allowed.



SCLC – Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Established in 1957 by Martin Luther King, Jr., the goal of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was to coordinate and assist local organizations working for the full equality of blacks in all aspects of American life.  The organization played a major part in the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. in 1963 and has kept a philosophy of non-violent social change.  Ex-leader Jesse L. Jackson set up a new organization with the same purpose called Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity).

Source:     Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia


1st Pan African Congress 1919

Organized by African-American thinker and journalist, W.E.B. Du Bois, the 1st Pan African Congress included 57 delegates representing 15 countries.  Among its first demands was the idea that Africans should take part in governing their countries ‘as fast as their development permits’ until Africa is granted home rule.

Source:     BBC

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