A. This legendary athlete made history on April 15, 1947 when he took his place on the field with the Dodgers. He was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers. His mother, single-handedly raised him and her four other children. They were the only black family on their block, and the prejudice they encountered only strengthened their bond. From this humble beginning would grow the first baseball player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier that segregated the sport for more than 50 years.
Growing up in a large, single-parent family, he excelled early at all sports and learned to make his own way in life. At UCLA, he became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. In 1941, he was named to the All-American football team. Due to financial difficulties, he was forced to leave college, and eventually decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. After two years in the army, he had progressed to second lieutenant. His army career was cut short when he was court-martialed in relation to his objections with incidents of racial discrimination. In the end, he left the Army with an honorable discharge.
In 1945, he played one season in the Negro Baseball League, traveling all over the Midwest with the Kansas City Monarchs. But greater challenges and achievements were in store for him. In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey approached him about joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Major Leagues had not had an African-American player since 1889, when baseball became segregated. When he first donned a Brooklyn Dodger uniform, he pioneered the integration of professional athletics in America. By breaking the color barrier in baseball, the nation’s preeminent sport, he courageously challenged the deeply rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South.
B. The daughter of a poor, southern, African American family, she became one of the most famous women and African Americans in aviation history. “Brave Bessie” or “Queen Bess,” as she became known, faced the double difficulties of racial and gender discrimination in early 20th-century America but overcame such challenges to become the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license.
C. His greatest success was Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976). This saga covers seven American generations, from the enslavement of his African ancestors to his own genealogical quest. The work forcefully shows relationships between generations and between races. Roots was adapted as a multi-episode television program, which, when first broadcast in January 1977, became one of the most popular shows in the history of American television and galvanized attention on African American issues and history. That same year He won a special Pulitzer Prize. A successful sequel was first broadcast in February 1979 as Roots: The Next Generations
D. Inventor and manufacturer, born in Canada. His African-American parents had fled from Kentucky to escape slavery. He showed an early talent for mechanical innovations, and in Ypsilanti, MI he developed lubricators for steam engines (1870). In 1882 he moved to Detroit, where he perfected his lubricating cup, still widely used to provide a steady supply of oil to machinery. He opened a manufacturing company (1920) and patented an improved airbrake lubricator, one of the some 50 patents he obtained during his lifetime.
E. Founder of Black Entertainment Television
F. An American politician from Texas. She served as a congresswoman in the United States House of Representative from 1973 to 1979. She campaigned for the Texas House Of Representatives in 1962 and 1964. Her persistence won her a seat in the Texas Senate and in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body. Re-elected to a full term in the Texas Senate in 1968, she served until 1972. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem of the state senate and served one day, June 10, 1972, as acting governor of Texas.