In the 1970's, a group of ruthless Irish punks called the "Westies", managed to terrorize Hell's Kitchen in New York City. They had a penchant for violence and a desire to control the illegal activities on Manhattan's west side. Young Irish thug Jimmy Coonan teamed up with Mickey Featherstone, a Vietnam veteran with a reputation for being a ruthless killer. The "Westies" ruled the streets, protecting their various rackets, including drug dealing and extortion, through extreme violence. They were so powerful they were able to work as contract killers for the Gambino crime family.
Bowman, as international president of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, ordered kidnappings, firebombings, assaults and murders. He joined another exclusive club in 1997, the "FBI Ten Most Wanted" list. Bowman was brought to justice with the help of an informant on the inside of the Outlaw brotherhood.
Many African-Americans left their country to escape the confines of racism, segregation and McCarthyism in the United States. As a result, an entirely new African-American subculture sprouted up in Europe, Africa and other countries abroad. A street in Paris is named after Josephine Baker, who found acceptance and fame in France that she couldn't achieve in the still-segregated United States. Marcus Garvey was a leader of the Back-to-Africa movement. And singer Nina Simone lived in several different countries, including Liberia, Switzerland, England and Barbados before eventually settling down in the South of France. Find out more about these African-American expats, and the new lives they made for themselves abroad, on Biography.com.
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.
Spanning jazz to soul to funk, to more contemporary genres like R&B, rap and pop, African-American musicians are responsible for chart-topping hits like "I Feel Good," "Respect," "Georgia on My Mind," "Let The Good Times Roll," "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Thriller." Explore our collection of famous black musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, B.B. King, Duke Ellington, James Brown, Little Richard, Beyoncé Knowles, and more.
From Whitney Houston's unbelievable vocal range to Michael Jackson's spot-on pitch and unforgettable choreography, these are the famous black singers who, together, have unequivocally defined pop culture for the masses for more than a century. Explore this group to learn more about some of the world's most renowned African-American vocalists, including Josephine Baker, Whitney Houston, Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé Knowles, Chuck Berry, Nina Simone, Mary J. Blige, André 3000, Janet Jackson and Gladys Knight.
"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Stated by legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., these words represent a basic human philosophy to which black history's greatest leaders have passionately subscribed. Learn more about the world's most revered civil rights activists, known for their fight against social injustices and lasting impact on the lives of black citizens, including Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
The quest for civil rights for people of all races and economic backgrounds has been a fundamental part of U.S. history. Those who have worked directly in community organizing and empowerment, such as Dorothy Height, Marian Wright Edelman and Dolores Huerta, inspire us with their vision and strength of character. Then there are those who use the arts to create poignant messages on justice. Whether using music, literature or sculpture, figures like Joan Baez, June Jordan, Miriam Makeba, Augusta Savage and Alice Walker have imparted wisdom to last through the ages.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
With its roots in the blues, jazz has been referred to as America's classical music, yet has also become a major global phenomenon, branching off into a variety of forms. Earlier pioneers like Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton paved the way for the swinging big-band sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. In contrast, contemporaries Dizzie Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk developed bebop, with its speedy, dissonant harmonies and improvisations. And Miles Davis heralded the birth of cool jazz, modal jazz and fusion at different points in his career. Famous jazz instrumentalists have tended to be male, yet women have been at the forefront of the genre when it comes to vocalization, from the brassy blues of Bessie Smith to the haunting eclecticism of Nina Simone.