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Black History Month Facts

Are you looking for some Black History Month facts? Whether you need them for school or are planning an event, the following facts will be quite helpful.

Black History Month Facts

Celebrating black history as a month long educational theme has been observed since 1976 in the United States. It is a time to commemorate the achievements and contributions of African Americans. It is also called African-American History Month. The celebration and observation originated in 1926 as Negro History Week.

Canada joins the United States in this celebration, and the people of the United Kingdom do the same, but in the month of October. Events in the United States include school programs, parades, and speeches.

Fun Facts

There are 101 Black History Month facts at biography.com about inventions and discoveries, various records that have been broken, some little known facts, and a few firsts for African Americans. Here are a few facts from each of those categories.

Inventions and Discoveries:

  • George Carruthers invented the far ultraviolet electrographic camera used by NASA and was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame.
  • Frederick Jones had over 60 patents, most of them in refrigeration.
  • Dr. Charles Drew developed blood storing techniques and blood banks.
  • Jan Ernst Matzeliger invented a machine that attached the sole of a shoe to the top part, thereby revolutionizing the shoe making industry.
  • Lonnie G. Johnson invented the #1 toy in 1991 - the Super Soaker water gun.
  • John Love invented the pencil sharpener.

Broken Records: Sports

  • Wilma Rudolph overcame polio and broke many track records. She was the first woman from the US to win three gold medals in the Olympics.
  • Jesse Owens was the first person to win four gold medals at one Olympic competition.
  • Tiger Woods was the first Black American to win the Master’s Golf tournament.
  • Wilt Chamberlain was the person to score 100 points in one basketball game.
  • Hank Aaron set a record with 755 career home runs in baseball.

Broken Records: Music

  • Michael Jackson won eight Grammy awards in 1984, holds the record for most Top Ten Singles from an album (Thriller), and for most #1 Singles from an album (Bad).
  • Quincy Jones holds a record number of Grammy nominations (76).
  • Beyonce Knowles is the first African American woman to win Songwriter of the Year and has the record for a song being #1 on Billboard Hot 100 for the longest time. “Baby Boy” lasted nine weeks and “Crazy in Love” lasted eight weeks.

Little Known Facts

  • Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr. received a PhD. in mathematics when he was 19.
  • Isaac Murphy was the first jockey to win three Derbies and also to win the Kentucky Oaks, the Clark Handicap, and Kentucky Derby in the same year.
  • More than 20 Buffalo Soldiers, which was the name given to all-Black Army regiments, received the Medal of Honor.
  • Bill Pickett was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and honored in the USPS stamp series "Legends of the West".
  • Wally Amos started the Famous Andy cookie company.
  • Josiah Henderson founded a town in Canada for fugitive slaves and was the model for the main character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

African American Firsts

  • Thomas L. Jennings was the first to receive a patent. It was for a dry cleaning process.
  • Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to receive a patent. It was for a hand-operated machine that kneaded and rolled bread dough.
  • Booker T Washington was the first to be honored on a USPS stamp.
  • George Washington Carver and Percy Julian were first in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Minnie Jocelyn Lee Elders was the first United States Surgeon General and the second woman in that post.
  • Maya Angelou made the bestseller list with her non-fiction work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
  • Arthur Ashe was the first member of the US Davis Cup team and the first to win the US Open, the men’s singles at Wimbledon, and to be in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • Robert Johnson, who started BET, was the first billionaire.
  • Ralph Bunche was the first to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Alain Locke was the first African-American Rhodes Scholar.
  • Richard Theodore Greener was the first African-American graduate from Harvard.
  • Marian Anderson was the first to sing with the New York Metropolitan Opera.
  • Nat King Cole was the first to host a television show, “The Nat King Cole Show”.