Hulton Archive, Getty Images/WikiCommons/US Department of Transportation/WikiCommons/dbking, Flickr

If you are the parent of a school-age child you know the month of February means its time for a Black History Month project. While many students may choose to profile the life of those fallback figures that everyone already knows about, consider teaching your child about these African American pioneers.


dbking, Flickr


Crispus Attucks



We all know about the revolutionary war but little is said about the first person to fall for the Revolutionary cause. The son of an African father and Native American mother, Crispus Attucks escaped slavery and joined the many patriots in Massachusetts to fight the British Red Coats at Dock Square in Boston. He was the first of five patriots who were murdered on March 5, 1770. He was buried with honor in the Park Street cemetery in Boston and was later honored with an official day. A monument was also erected in Boston to pay tribute to him.


Hulton Archive, Getty Images


Jelly Roll Morton



If you're a fan of Jazz music, you have to thank composer Jelly Roll Morton. Known as the Godfather of Jazz, Morton is known as the first arranger of jazz music, proving that the genre rooted in improvisation could maintain its unique and original sounds even when notated. He started as a ragtime pianist but helped create other jazz movements like swing and Dixieland Jazz.




Madame C.J. Walker



Long before there was Bonner Brothers and Carol’s Daughter, black women were limited in products specifically designed for their hair care and beauty needs. In the early 1900s, Sarah C.J. Walker created a hugely successful line of beauty products for black women. Her products not only filled in gaps in the market but also made Walker the first African American female millionaire. She didn’t keep that money to herself, though. Walker was noted as one of the largest contributors to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


US Department of Transportation


Garrett Morgan



You might not have heard of Garrett Morgan but you are probably very familiar with his inventions. This Kentucky native dropped out of school and left home as a teen to find work. He settled in Ohio where he went on to create a type of respiratory protective mask, which is what we now know as the gas mask; a type of traffic signal, which gave way for the traffic light system; and a hair straightening device.




Maggie Lena Walker



Maggie Lena Walker (no relation to Madame C.J. Walker) was the first African American female bank president and first woman to charter a bank in the United States. Walker was born in Richmond, VA, not long after the civil war. She worked as a teacher for a few years before getting married. In 1902, she created a newspaper for the Independent Order of St. Luke organization and shortly thereafter chartered the St. Luke penny Savings Bank. After a few mergers the bank eventually was named The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company.


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