Most people think of Rosa Parks as the first person to refuse to give up their seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. There were actually several women who came before her; one was Claudette Colvin.
Nine months before Rosa Parks, fifteen-year-old Claudette refused to move to the back of the bus. At the time, the NAACP and other related organizations felt Rosa Parks, who was older, middle class, and light-skinned, made a better icon than a poorer, dark-skinned teenager. Therefore, Rosa became the face for the movement. She served as one of four women who challenged and overthrew Alabama segregation law in Browder v. Gayle.
Cathay Williams was born in Independence, Missouri to a free man and an enslaved woman. As such, she was legally a slave. Due to the prohibition against women serving in the military, Cathay Williams enlisted in the U.S. Army under the name William Cathay. She was the first African-American woman to enlist in the U.S. military, and she was able to hide behind her male facade for two years before her identity was discovered.
Jesse Owens was an American track and field athlete. He specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history.” At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Owens achieved international fame by winning four gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4 x 100 relay. He was the most successful athlete at the Olympics and, as an African-American man, was credited with "single-handedly crushing Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy."
Sophia A. Strother is the Founder of Empowerment Driven by Knowledge Coalition (EDKC). EDKC manages a statewide awareness campaign on sexual abuse and domestic violence titled #GETLOUDGETOUT and “Creating a SAFE ZONE within the Church.” Her tireless efforts to raise awareness around domestic violence and sexual abuse led to being commissioned a “Yellow Rose of Texas Award," which is given through the Office of the Governor to recognize women for their significant contributions to Texas.
Sophia also enthusiastically exhibits her passion by aiding different organizations’ fundraising efforts. Over the years, she has helped raise over $3.5 million dollars, benefitting social, education, and economic issues. Along with her work as an advocate and inspirational speaker, Sophia is a writer, authoring both “Sophia I’m Back” and a 9-week study guide detailing her own journey of survival and service to others called “Taking My Life Back.” She also recently published “African American survivors invisible in plain sight,” an article highlighting the disproportional number of African American victims of abuse, in The Texas Tribune.
Sophia is one of my personal heroes. Her kindness and strength despite challenging circumstances is admirable and inspiring. I cannot wait to see the impact she continues to make in the lives of others, the state of Texas, and around the world.
-Katie Watson, NAACP Website Manager
Dr. Shirley Jackson is an American physicist who received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. She was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in nuclear physics at MIT. In addition to her lengthy list of academic achievements, she also has an impressive number of inventions under her belt.
Born in 1943, Arthur Ashe was a professional tennis player and a figure with an important legacy. He won three Grand Slam titles, and, in 1963, became the first African-American player selected for the United States Davis Cup team. In 1968, Ashe won the men's singles title at the U.S. Open. He was the first African-American to do so. Ashe made history by being the only African-American to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. Ashe was also known for his civil rights work and was involved with the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s. Ashe died tragically after contracting HIV from a contaminated blood transfusion, but did much in his last years to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic.
February is Black History Month!
Every day, we will celebrate one African American who has made a powerful impact on society with hard work, kindness, and perseverance through challenges big and small.
Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned writers of her generation. Her 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was nominated for a National Book Award. With a wide appeal to audiences of every color, Angelou made history in 1993, when she read her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. She was the first poet to do an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost spoke at President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration.
Events were held all around Austin yesterday to honor Dr. King's legacy. A march went from UT's campus to the Huston-Tillotson University campus where a festival was held. See more here.
President Nelson Linder will be one of many performers at ACC's National Day of Racial Healing on January 22nd. Learn more here and join the NAACP at the event from 12:00 to 1:30pm.
The Annual Community March celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy while uplifting diversity and multi-culturalism in our city. The MLK Community March kicks off on Monday, January 21, 2019 at 9:00am with a short program at the MLK Statue on the University of Texas campus.
We will then march to the historic Huston-Tillotson University, where exciting activities are planned. All businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals are invited to march and celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.
For frequent updates, visit the Facebook page of Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder!