Catholic/Poet/ Activist/ First National Youth Poet Laureate/ Youngest Poet to read at the Inauguration
“…And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
Read the works of Ten Most Famous Black Poets and Their Best Known Poems
Wilton Daniel Gregory
Catholic Priest/First African American Cardinal in the United States/ Archbishop of Washington, DC
“Like any other spiritual transformation or renewal, conversion must begin with an honest and a sincere admission that we need God’s trans-formative power in our lives to achieve any real change, no matter the perspective from which we might begin.”
Actress/first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award
“When people have points of reference that are humanizing, that demystifies difference.”
Learn about the work of New Way’s Ministry and Outreach to Transgender Persons
Painter/best known works, The Migration Series which depicts the migration of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban north.
“…We don’t have a physical slavery, but an economic slavery. If these people, who were so much worse off than the people today, could conquer their slavery, we can certainly do the same thing….I am not a politician. I’m an artist, just trying to do my part to bring this thing about.”
Take a Virtual Tour of Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle on display at the Peabody Essex Museum
NASA Mathematician/ provided calculations of orbital mechanics for first US space flights/Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
“Everything is physics and math.”
Watch or rewatch the movie, Hidden Figures
Catholic priest/author/activist/ theologian
“For the beneficiaries of white privilege lament involves the difficult task of acknowledging their individual and communal complicity in past and present racial injustices”
Watch “ The Magis and Justice”
Ida B. Wells
Journalist/ Anti-lynching activist/Women’s Suffragist
Among most influential in Jazz/Nickname: Satchmo/NYC Native
“Seems to me, it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doin’ to it. And all I’m saying is, see, what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love baby, love. That’s the secret.”
Watch and Listen to Louis Armstrong in this BBC Special
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Nurse/Inventor/invented closed circuit TV initially for home security/Jamaica, Queens native
“Since 1993 property crime has fallen in the US by 69% thanks to the pioneering work of one woman: Marie Van Brittan Brown” UntoldEdu
Read story with the New York Times,” New York Times, December 6, 1969 (“Audio-Viewer Screens Calls)p.55
Politician/Civil Rights Activist
“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Take a Virtual Tour of the National Museum of African American History which John Lewis initiated in 1988.
Polio survivor/ gold medal Olympian/ coach/ activist
“I have spent a lifetime trying to share what it has meant to be a woman first in the world of sports so that other young women have a chance to reach their dreams.”
Write a letter to your representative to support equity in health care.
Lawyer/activist/ argued Brown v Board of Education/ first Black Supreme Court Justice
“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps… – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”
Read MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”.
Opera contralto/ first Black person to perform a leading role at the Met/ diplomat/ activist
“A singer starts by having his instrument as a gift from God… When you have been given something in a moment of grace, it is sacrilegious to be greedy.”
Listen to/watch Marian sing from the Lincoln Memorial.
Athlete/ activist/ philanthropist
“People sometimes forget that love is at the root of our resistance.”
Journal Prompt: “Why kneeling is an act of love.”
First Black/ Native American US female pilot/first Black international pilot/activist
“I refused to take no for an answer.”
Journal Prompt: “What could be the questions she asked for which the answer was no?”
Marsha P. Johnson
Gay liberation activist/ self-identified drag queen/prominent figure in Stone Wall Uprising
“I’ll always be known reaching out to young people who have no one to help them out, so I help them out with a place to stay or some food to eat or some change for their pocket.”
Pray for those marginalized by racism- say their names.
Son/ father/ truck driver/ security guard
Last recorded words– “I can’t breathe. I can‘t breathe…. Please. Please. Please.”
Read the book: Between the World and Me– Ta-Nehisi Coates letter to his son.
NY state politician/ educator/ author/ first Black candidate for major party nomination for President
”If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
Write supporting an action to address racism in housing, healthcare, or business.- How to Contact Your Elected Officials
Laborer/ barber/ inventor of automatic elevator doors/ inducted into Inventors Hall of Fame 2007
“I think it is time that the nation should awaken to the fact that the negro is a citizen and not a pest,”
Exploited for medical research/ “immortal cells” which have helped countless patients.
“Who is this Henrietta Lacks?!”
Watch or read
Award winning actor/ playwright/ played Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, Black Panther
“The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”
NYC public school librarian/ feminist writer/ civil rights activist
“Life is short and we must do what has to be done in the now.”
Actor/film director/ screenwriter/ professor
“And this city (NYC) is so vibrant; the energy is just phenomenal.”
Watch any one of his movies, TV shows, e.g. Do the Right Thing
Abolitionist/political activist/ part of the “Underground Railroad”
“I never ran my train off the track, and never lost a passenger.”
Watch Harriet, on YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
First African American woman neurosurgeon/ “retired” to be chief of pediatric neurosurgery/ Sacred Heart, Pensacola
“If you want to be something, you have to perceive that something is possible.”
American artist/ activist/ co-founder of Black Lives Matter
“Invest in a culture of dignity and care for Black people.”
Explore Patrice’s website and pick an action. Pray for racial justice.
Dancer, choreographer, director, founder of the American Dance Theatre, activist.
“Color is not important. What is important is the quality of our work.”
Watch Revelations on YouTube
Martin dePorres Grey
First Black woman in the Sisters of Mercy; foundress of Nat. Black Sisters Conference, 1968; left religious life in 1974.
“I never allowed myself to actually experience the pain of it.”
Check out the work of Shannen Dee Williams. “Black Nuns and ‘Subversive Habits’”
Pray for religious life.