Black History Month brings to the forefront the inspiring stories of African-American icons—many of whom overcame great odds to leave their mark on the United States. In celebration of Black History Month, explore our Black History collection and learn more about the black individuals who have made extraordinary achievements in their fields, including inventors such as George Washington Carver, activists like Malcolm X and Rosa Parks, athletes such as Willie Mays and Michael Jordan, and entertainers like Bessie Smith and Oprah Winfrey. Their names, as well as their personal histories, have become synonymous with the rich legacy that is African-American culture.
Featured Black History Groups
From science to the arts, to social activism to philanthropy, explore the famous people who've contributed to Black History's indelible legacy, and whose achievements are highlighted during Black History Month. See our featured selections below, and meet more fascinating people in these groups: African-American Biopics, African-American Expats, African-American Firsts Athletes, Apollo Legends, Famous Black Artists, Famous Black Lawyers, Famous Black Scientists, Famous Black Writers, Famous Harlem Renaissance People, Million-Dollar Ideas.
African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
Famous Black Activists
They've sprinted, served, batted, slam-dunked and TKO'd their way into sports history. Sprinter Jesse Owens's Olympic triumphs put Hitler to shame. Basketball star Michael Jordan taught kids that they could fly. Gymnast Gabby Douglas showed that champions can come in pint-size packages, and Tiger Woods brought the game of golf to another level. Explore biographies of famous black athletes who broke records and barriers and, ultimately, captured our imaginations.
Famous Black Athletes
Black entertainers have thrilled us like no other. Whether it be trailblazing comedians like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, the soulful voices of Louis Armstrong and Whitney Houston, the featherlight moonwalk of Michael Jackson, or the heartfelt, thought-provoking conversations of talk show icon Oprah Winfrey, browse our collection of famous black entertainers and learn how their contributions have changed the entertainment world forever.
Famous Black Entertainers
After the Civil War, many of the country's best and brightest black advocates, artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals moved to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Thanks largely to the efforts of these residents, Harlem became both the cradle of a cultural revolution and the heart of the civil rights movement. Meet some of the many people who gave—and continue to give—this neighborhood a voice, simply by calling it home.
Famous Harlem Residents
They are among history's most revered black inventors, known for their relentless inquisition, passionate research, impeccable design and, most importantly, their desire to push the envelope. Some of the world's greatest technological and social advancements, including the modern-day gas mask, light bulb and traffic light, owe their origins to black inventors. Did you know that George Washington Carver developed more than 100 products using peanuts? Or that Madam C.J. Walker was the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire? Learn more about these inventors, as well as Lonnie G. Johnson, Garrett Morgan, Patricia Bath, Percy Julian and more, at Biography.com.
Famous Black Inventors
From the early comedy of Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby to the contemporary routines of Steve Harvey, Mo'Nique, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, Craig Robinson, Maya Rudolph and Dave Chappelle, black comedians have often used their wit to become the voice and face of the African-American experience. These legendary comedians have also set a very high bar—not only for African Americans, but for all comics trying to make it in show business. Learn more about these famous jokesters, from their early days to their comic beginnings, to their side-splitting performances and more.
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Learn more about the lives of African-Americans who have made extraordinary achievements in their fields, with our collection of Black History Groups.
Explore our curated collections of African-American figures, including:
Check out BIO’s original video series, American Freedom Stories, about the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, and the leaders and everyday heroes who fought to make racial equality a reality. Watch videos.
Flip through these photos of some of Black History's most important, controversial and inspiring figures. Check out our African-American Firsts - Athletes, Black Comedians, Million-Dollar Ideas, African-American Biopics, African-American Expats, or explore all of our Black History photos.
Celebrate the historical icons of America's black community through this interactive journey.
- Apollo Theater Interactive Tour
- Apollo Theater Timeline
- Path to Equality
- Who Am I Game
- Harlem Renaissance