Juneteenth – Celebrating the Contributions of Black Americans

Juneteenth – Celebrating the Contributions of Black Americans

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Image by Riki32 from Pixabay

To honor the history of Juneteenth and celebrate the contributions of Black Americans, the RCPA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee encourages you to learn about some exceptional individuals and their accomplishments. Did You Know…

John Mercer Langston
John Mercer Langston became the first Black man to become an attorney in the United States when he passed the bar in Ohio in 1854. The following year, he became one of the first African Americans ever elected to public office in America when he was elected to the post of Town Clerk for Brownhelm, Ohio. John Mercer Langston was also the great-uncle of Langston Hughes, famed poet of the Harlem Renaissance.

Claudette Colvin
Claudette Colvin was arrested at the age of 15 for her refusal to give up her seat to a white woman, nine months before Rosa Parks’ more famous protest. Because of her age, the NAACP chose not to use her case to challenge segregation laws. Despite a number of personal challenges, Colvin became one of the four plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case. The decision in the 1956 case ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional.

Hiram Rhodes Revels
Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first ever African American elected to the US Senate. He represented the state of Mississippi from February 1870 – March 1871.

Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson became the first African American billionaire when he sold the cable station he founded, Black Entertainment Television (BET), in 2001.

Lewis Latimer
While Thomas Edison is credited with the invention of the lightbulb, it was Lewis Latimer, the son of formerly enslaved people, who guaranteed its success. Latimer patented a new filament that extended the lifespan of lightbulbs to extend beyond a few days. In 1882, Latimer was granted a patent for his invention, a feat countless Black innovators in the generations before were unable to achieve.

William Wells Brown
William Wells Brown, author of novel Clotel; or The President’s Daughter that was published in 1853, became the first published African American novelist.

Ketanji Brown Jackson
Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to serve on the Unites States Supreme Court after nomination by the president and confirmation by the Senate in 2022.

Gladys West
Gladys West was the second Black woman ever to be employed by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division and was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame — one of the highest honors awarded by the Air Force. She leveraged her mathematical and programming expertise to invent an accurate model of the Earth, which was used as the foundation for the creation of the Global Positioning System (GPS).