Every February is Black History Month since the year of 1976. We use this month to dedicate time to remember what African-Americans have contributed to our current place of society. In schools across America they will learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and others who fought during the toughest time for the civil rights of black people. We dedicate this month every year to showcase the African-American culture. Ohio in itself is engulfed in Black History! Take a gander at these Five Figures who helped shape5 Black History Month Facts.
Jesse Owens – Olympic Athlete
The Buckeye Bullet was born in Oakville, Alabama, but left a legendary mark in the state of Ohio. During the Olympics of 1936, Owens led the way reeling in four gold medals and becoming one of the most prolific runners to touch the Olympic track. Living in a world of vicious racism, James Cleveland Owens ran his way to superiority of those who once saw him inferior. Before changing history in front of the world, the runner broke records left and right at The Ohio State University. From the 220-yard dash and 220-yard low hurdles to the long jump, Jesse took the Big Ten by storm. He even was elected as the team’s captain. The first time an african American was awarded this position in the Big Ten. Hopefully you went and check out the movie based on Owens, “RACE“.
Paul Laurence Dunbar – Writer
Paul Laurence Dunbar was a prolific poet from the great city of Dayton, Ohio. Born to parents who were once enslaved in Kentucky, the writer made a path for himself like never before. Dunbar has always taken a liking to literacy. While he was in high school, he was actually the president of the literacy club. At a young age, Dunbar was writing things to be published in the Dayton Newspapers. He even started his own African-American paper, “The Tattler”, with the help of the Wright Brothers. Dunbar went on to write things such as books and books of poetry, short stories, a musical and a play! Unfortunately, Dunbar lived a short life, only living to the age of 33, dying of tuberculosis.
Sojourner Truth –“Ain’t I A Woman?”
Sojourner Truth was an activist for civil rights. After being free from slavery due to a New York Anti Slavery Law, Truth, formerly Isabella, lived with a Quaker family that helped her get an education. Eventually becoming a Pentecostal preacher, Sojourner traveled all across the midwest, giving speeches on civil and women’s rights. She eventually stopped in Akron, Ohio for the Women’s Rights Convention in 1851.
With protest from the men the second day of the convention, the activist bravely stood up and made her speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?”. She said: “Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted… and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man… I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?” She continued by asking the protester, “he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.”
Garrett Morgan – Inventor
You know how you got your car first before all of your friends, and you were pumped? Well what if you were the first African-American to ever own a car in Cleveland. Garrett Morgan, an inventor, entrepreneur and community leader, did just that. Owning the first car, isn’t the only thing that Morgan did however. The inventor, born in Paris, Kentucky, worked for sometime in the city of Cincinnati during his early teen years. He then moved to Cleveland in 1895, working a ton with his hands, he developed his first invention. That being a belt fastener for a sewing machine, while it doesn’t seem like much, this was just his start. After working with sewing machines, he opened up his own sewing and shoe repair shop. He achieved getting his first patent in 1912. After founding the Cleveland Association of Colored Men, he went on to develop products such as a safety hood for firefighters, the traffic signal and a cream that could straighten hair. He now has multiple schools and even a water plant named after him.
Recognized as the first HBCU of Ohio, Wilberforce University holds a lot of history. As a small private college, just outside of Dayton, Ohio, Wilberforce has been home to top professors such as W.E.B. DuBois. Through the collaboration of leaders from the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the school was established in 1856. With it’s primary reasoning to teach and educate young black males, Wilberforce paved the way of post-secondary education for years to come. The Bulldogs are still strong with about 500 students.