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- Marian Anderson was the first African American soloist in 1955 at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC.
- Harriet Tubman escaped slavery and led hundreds of other slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. She also became a spy for the Union Army
- William Christopher Handy became known as the "Father of the Blues".
- Phillis Wheatley is known as the first published African American poet.
- Booker T. Washington was an African American educator who believed in uplifting yourself through education and economic advancement.
- Lewis H. Latimer was the only African American member of Thomas A. Edison's team of scientists. He helped pave the way in the development of the electric light bulb.
- Andrew J. Beard invented the rotary engine on July 5, 1892.
- Granville T. Woods invented the overhead conducting system for the electric railway.
- Guion S. Bluford, Jr. was the first African American in space.
- Frederick D. Gregory was the first African American space shuttle commander.
- Bernard A. Harris, Jr. was the first African American to walk in space.
- Elijah McCoy invented an automatic oiling device that allowed machines to be lubricated while they were still in use. Some say that this is where the expression "the real McCoy" originated.
- Garrett Augustus Morgan invented the automatic traffic signal, as well as, the gas mask used by soldiers in World War I and by firemen in the early 1900's.
- Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
- Maya Angelou is a world famous poet, historian, author, singer and civil rights activist. She is both a Grammy and Horatio Alger award winner.
- Sojourner Truth was a true force in the abolitionist movement, as well as, a preacher. She added the women's rights movement to her cause in 1859.
- George Washington Carver discovered hundreds of new uses for crops such as the peanut. In addition, he developed methods of crop rotation that conserved nutrients in the soil.
- Jan Ernst Matzeliger invented a machine to make shoes that lasted in 1883.
- Crispus Attucks is remembered as one of the first men to lose his life for the cause of American independence at the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770.