February is African American history month; and to honor some of the lesser known history makers— whose names are not as well-known as many others or not known at all. For instance, Martin Luther King, Jr, George Washington Carver, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks.

First —Ida B. Wells  (Oct. 26, 1892)

Portrait of American journalist, suffragist and Progressive activist Ida Wells Barnett (1862 - 1931), 1890s.
African American history facts
African American history facts

Ida B. Wells was an African American journalist, abolitionist and feminist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s. She went on to found and become integral in groups striving for African American justice.

Early Life, Family and Education

Born a slave in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on July 16, 1862, Wells was the oldest daughter of James and Lizzie Wells. The Wells family, as well as the rest of the slaves of the Confederate states, were decreed free by the Union thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation about six months after Ida’s birth.


Second —The National Memorial For Peace and Justice opened its doors this April, and in it are 4,400 names of victims lost to the lynching that Wells protested in 1892.

African American history from Biography.com

Third—Ella Baker Makes a Plea for Black Lives (Aug. 6, 1964)

A photograph of Ella Baker as NAACP Hatfield representative, behind a desk with paperwork, Sept. 18, 1941. African American history facts

A photograph of Ella Baker as NAACP Hatfield representative, behind a desk with paperwork, Sept. 18, 1941. Afro Newspaper/Gado/Getty Images

In August 1964, civil rights activist Ella Baker stated, “Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son — we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

African American history fact—Keynote address

Baker delivered those words during a keynote address in Jackson, Miss., just days after the discovery of the bodies of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner — three civil rights activists murdered earlier that summer.

Voter Education Project

Baker had helped organize the Voter Education Project and “Freedom Summer,” which brought volunteers like Goodman and Schwerner to Mississippi to register voters. (Chaney was from there; he was black and they were white.)

After the three men went missing that June while investigating the burning of a black church, the case made national headlines as federal investigators searched for them.

But while combing through the area, search teams discovered other bodies too — murdered black Mississippians whose lives had not been considered important enough to warrant a federal investigation.

Fourth —First Senator: Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American ever elected to the U.S. Senate. He represented the state of Mississippi from February 1870 to March 1871. —biography.com

Fifth—Oscar Winner: In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African American performer to win an Academy Award—the film industry’s highest honor for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone With the Wind. —biography.com


First Woman Representative: Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives. She was elected in 1968 and represented the state of New York.

She broke ground again four years later in 1972 when she was the first major party African American candidate and the first female candidate for president of the United States.—history.com

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