28 Black History Facts

DAY 27: 
28 Black History Facts

1. Lincoln University in Pennsylvania is the first institution of higher education founded for African-Americans. It paved the way for the 104 other historically black colleges, which have produced distinguished alums like Thurgood Marshall, Spike Lee, and Oprah.

2. After retiring from baseball, Jackie Robinson helped establish the African-American owned and controlled Freedom Bank.

3. Jazz, an African–American musical form born out of the blues, ragtime and marching bands, originated in Louisiana during the turn of the 19th century. The word "jazz" is a slang term that at one point referred to a sexual act.

4. Mamie Smith is considered to be the first African-American female artist to make a blues record with vocals—"Crazy Blues," released in 1920, sold 1 million copies in half a year.

5. John Baxter Taylor, the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal, also held a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania.

6. Phillis Wheatley became the first published African-American poet in 1774 with her collection Poems on Various Subjects, a work of distinction that looked to many literary classical traditions.

7. The banjo originated in Africa and up until the 1800s was considered an instrument only played by blacks.

8. Thomas J. Martin patented a fire extinguisher in 1872.

9. Joseph Winters invented a fire escape ladder in 1878. 

10. John Love invented the pencil sharpener in 1897. 

11. Nathaniel Adams Cole “Nat King Cole” a singer, song writer and pianist, was the first African-American to host a national television program, The Nat King Cole Show, in 1956.

12. Charles Henry Turner, a zoologist and educator, was the first person to discover that insects can hear. 

13. Robert L. Johnson founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) is the first African-American billionaire.

14. Judy W. Reed was the first African-American woman to receive a patent in 1884 for a hand-operated machine used to knead and roll dough.

15. Alexa Canady became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States. She graduated from medical school in 1975.

16. Lee Elder was the first African-American golfer to play in the Masters Tournament in 1975. He has won 4 PGA tournaments and 8 Senior PGA tournaments in his career.

17. Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher.

18. Both Condoleezza Rice and Martin Luther King, Jr. started college when they were just 15 years old. She studied political science at the University of Denver; he majored in sociology at Morehouse.

19. Will Smith was The Fresh Prince and, along with partner Jazzy Jeff, won the first-ever Grammy for Best Rap Performance. They boycotted the awards because the category was barred from television.

20. In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.

21. Muhammad Ali self–proclaimed “greatest [boxer] of all time” was originally named after his father, who was named after the 19th century abolitionist and politician Cassius Marcellus Clay.

22. Lewis and Clark were accompanied by York, a black slave, when they made their 1804 expedition from Missouri to Oregon. York’s presence aided in their interactions with the Native Americans they encountered.

23. Buffalo Soldiers is the name given to the all-black regiments of the U.S. Army started in 1866. More than 20 Buffalo Soldiers received the highest Medal of Honor for their service –the highest number of any U.S. military unit. The oldest living Buffalo Soldier, Mark Matthews, died at the age of 111 in 2005.

24. “Strange Fruit” the song about black lynching in the south made famous by blues singer Billie Holiday was originally a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx.

25. Nat Love “Deadwood Dick” a renowned and skilled cowboy, was the only African–American cowboy to write his autobiography, “The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as Deadwood Dick”, published in 1907.

26. In the mid 1800s Philadelphia was known as “The Black Capital of Anti–Slavery,” because of the strong abolitionist presence there and such groups as The Philadelphia Female Anti–Slavery Society, The Philadelphia Young Men’s Anti–Slavery Society and The Philadelphia Anti–Slavery Society.

27. Thomas L. Jennings (1791 - 1859) was the first African-American to receive a patent in 1821. It was for a dry-cleaning process in 1821. He used the money earned from the patent to purchase relatives out of slavery and support abolitionist causes.

28. Black Swan Records, founded in 1921 by Harry Pace in Harlem, was the first U.S. record label owned and operated by African-Americans. It was originally the Pace Phonograph Corporation and was renamed Black Swan Records after the 19th century opera singer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, who was known as the Black Swan.

All of the Black History facts have been provided by Oxford School District. To read more facts or find out about Oxford School District, click here.