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15 Black People Who Changed The World That History Forgot

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Several black people have achieved fame in the world for their actions or beliefs and are often the subject of study. The popular stars of these individuals include Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela among others. However, some forgotten heroes deserve a mention for their contributions to society. They include:

1. Charles Richard Drew

 Charles Richard Drew

Born in 1904, Charles Richard Drew was an African American doctor who was responsible for the development of blood banks, as we know them.

This amazing man saved thousands of lives through his research and continues to do so despite the challenge of being a black person at the time yet he remains unknown in the public.

2. Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Brittan Brown

If you have ever wondered who came up with the CCTV that is used all over the world for security purposes, you will be surprised to learn that a black woman in the 1960s was responsible for the first prototype.

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A nurse, Marie developed and patented the CCTV technology that revolutionized global security in 1969. Her contributions remain anonymous to the public.

3. Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel

This was the first African American woman to win an Oscar in 1939 in Gone with the Wind. What is so amazing is that she did so in a time when black people were rarely recognized or even acknowledged in the entertainment industry.

She paved the way for all the black women who have since won the honor and who continue to excel in entertainment.

4. William Hastie

William Hastie

This brilliant lawyer was one of the most successful African Americans in law. He was the first African American to become a federal judge in addition to being the first African American full-term governor in history.

Despite the challenges of discrimination, he paved the way for African Americans in the justice system. Today, only the justice system fraternity remembers his contributions.

5. Henrietta Lacks
This woman has helped millions of lives without her knowledge or even her consent. Her cells were harvested after being diagnosed with cancer.

These cells were used to create the polio vaccine, which has directly contributed to the eradication of polio from the world.

6. Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls

Smalls had two major contributions to history. First, his action of leading the confederate ship to the north convinced President Lincoln that it was a good idea to accept black people into the army.

Secondly, as a politician he wrote the legislation that gave the country and South Carolina the first free public school system. This changed the society completely with the schools still in place for all American children.

7. Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin

Even before Rosa Parks famously ignored the bus segregation laws, another had already done so. Police in Montgomery had already dragged the forgotten 15-year-old Claudette off a bus.

It seems that Colvin’s experience fueled the disgruntlement in the society while Rosa Parks ignited the society to action.

8. Matthew Henson

Matthew Henson

Henson was actually the first person to reach the North Pole. A companion of more famous white Robert Peary, Henson did not receive recognition for this amazing task. This is despite the fact that Peary only got to the North Pole due to Henson’s good relationship with the Eskimos.

He was the first black person to be recognized as a real explorer therefore opening up the path for other black people in exploration.

9. Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges

The bravery of one little girl completely changed the American society and led to the desegregation of the American schools in the 1960s.

Ruby Bridges was the first black child to attend an all-white kindergarten and had to have an escort from U.S marshals due to the endless threats against her and her family. She was brave enough to hold firm until the changes were adopted everywhere in the US.

10. Gwendolyn Brooks
This amazing poet was the first African American to receive a Pulitzer award in 1939. This accomplishment was the first accolade that any person of color received and broke down racial barriers in academia.

She became a symbol of African American excellence and an inspiration for other black people.

11. Percy Julian
This little known black scientist actually developed a way of isolating hormones and therefore created steroids in the 1960s.

This has been revolutionary in modern medicine leading to the development of drugs catering to a wide range of conditions and illnesses.

12. Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

This was the first African American woman to become a congressional representative in the United States. This was a crucial factor in changing how women were viewed as leaders.

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In addition, she was the first black person to attempt to run for a party nomination for president. While she was unsuccessful, her efforts were an inspiration to most African Americans.

13. Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

This brilliant mathematician’s work actually launched America into space. She had to overcome discrimination for being black in addition to being a woman in a male dominated sector.

Without her contributions, the Russians would have won the space race easily. She remained in obscurity until recently.

14. Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer

This African American inventor created the filament that allows our electric bulbs to stay on as long as they do.

Without this man, we would all still be in darkness yet only Edison is recognized.

15. Charles Hamilton Houston
He was one of the legal minds that engineered the elimination of segregated schools in the United States.

This eclectic list includes black poets, scientists, explorers, and politicians. If you had never heard of these people before, now you understand how important their contributions to the world were despite the lack of public recognition.

They have fought for freedom and equality in addition to excelling in their fields. They have infact changed the world.

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15 Black People Who Changed The World That History Forgot


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    November 2, 2019

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    February 11, 2021

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  • Unknown
    April 27, 2021

    Thank you for this article it is great to know how many black people made history that we are unaware of.

  • Unknown
    September 25, 2021

    Truly grateful and inspiring…. Great history lesson learned and definitely worth sharing.

  • Just Me😚
    November 8, 2021

    There's many more that was never teught in schools to black children because it was something that was thought to be irreverent plus not important for black children to know it would never ever be placed in white schools or private white school in order for them to think that black people or stupid uneducated people that should be hated because their skin doesn't look like their's most things that were invented was to save lives that or use in this day and time

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