As we celebrate Black History Month, it's important to look back at the brave men and women who face off against prejudice and bigotry in order to share their unique talents with the world. Whether they were involved in civil rights, politics, science, technology, sports or music, African-American history is full of innovators. Here are 25 unheralded African-American pioneers and trailblazers you should know.
1. JESSE L. BROWN
When Jesse LeRoy Brown was a teenager, he wrote a letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt to express his disappointment that African Americans were not flying in the military. By 1
On December 4, 1950, while on a mission to provide cover for a naval regiment, Brown's planned a struck-leaking fuel , he crash-landed on a slope but was still alive. His wingman, Thomas Hudner, crash-landed. Though Brown received a posthumous Flying Cross medal for bravery, while Hudner, who survived the ordeal, presented with the Medal of Honor. A Naval frigate, the USS Jesse L. Brown which was built and operated in the '60s and' 70s.
Brown and Hudner's rescue attempt, NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Maclay remarked, "When Brown is risking his life to help a Marine regiment that day, they did not consider their race what an American in trouble. "
2. JO ANN ROBINSON
A replica of the bus Rosa Parks rode on and Jo Ann Robinson organized a boycott against.
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Jo Ann Robinson is an often-overlooked part of the Civil Rights Movement, but her contributions were crucial. Born in Georgia in 1912, Robinson focused her early life on education. She began graduating from college in 1934, and later became a public school teacher in Macon, Georgia. After receiving her master's degree, she took a job as a college professor in Alabama and began becoming socially active, eventually becoming president of the Women's Political Council (WPC) in 1950.
Seeing how African Americans were treated in the United States Montgomery, Alabama area, Robinson used her position at the WPC to try to press the city's mayor, William A. Gale, to desegregate public buses, to no avail. After Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, Robinson and a group of activists distributed thousands of pamphlets urging a one-day boycott of the bus system. It was a success, and now the famous boycott of the Montgomery bus system
Robinson faced severe harassment and intimidation from local police.
Robinson faced severe harassment and intimidation from local police. Eventually, state police were ordered to protect. Once the boycotts ended and buses desegregated, Robinson moved from Alabama to teach in California. She died in 1992.
3. MARK E. DEAN
For many in the '80s, IBM computers were likely their first experience with the technology that would define the future. Mark Dean, to engineer whose work helped create the company's ISA bus. These hardware add-ons are suitable peripherals like printers, disk drives, and keyboards to be plugged directly into the computer. Amazingly, he holds three of IBM's original nine PC patents.
His later breakthroughs included work on the PC and the first gigahertz chip, which allows a machine to compute a billion calculations per second and instrumental
Engadget that he's currently "looking to develop alternative computing architecture leveraging what we know about neuroscience and brain structures."
MADAM C.J. WALKER
Craig Barritt, Getty Images for Essence
Known as "the first millionaire black woman in America," Madam C.J. Walker-born Sarah Breedlove-broke the bank with her own line of hair products. Annie Malone, Breedlove, says she's experimenting with products by an African-American businesswoman.
To drum up publicity and mystique, the name Madam C.J. Walker was crafted, and she soon started selling products around the country to African-American clientele that was often ignored by mainstream marketing. Perhaps her most long-standing accomplishments are the ones she does not use. Estimates put the number of employees somewhere around 40,000 at a time when holding a job as a black woman was not common.
like the NAACP and Tuskegee Institute. For a woman who is both a poor orphan and a widow at 20, the Madam C.J. Walker empire is a true success story.
5. THOMAS L. JENNINGS
Chaloner Woods, Getty Images
Thomas L. Jennings is known as the first African American to receive a patent in the United States for his invention of an early form of dry cleaning called "dry scoring." The patent was given in 1821, but the first thing that happened was that all slaveowners legally owned the "fruits of the slave's manual and intellectual." Jennings was a free man, though, and set a precedent for all other African Americans after him.
The money earned from his invention went to freeing other members of his family from slavery, as well as going into various abolitionist causes.
50s and '60s to the punk rock of the late' 70s and '80s what bridged by what's now known as the proto-punk movement. This loose fraternity of raw, underproduced garage rock bands what prepping listeners for what is coming to the music industry. This was a genre that replaced the slick, polished tunes of the previous decades with the abrasive rhythms of anger, alienation, and attitude. But even music aficionados with a deep back catalog of the proto-punk scene.
The hackney brothers-David is made up of the Hackney brothers-David, and Dannis-and had a sound that would fit right at home next to bands like The Stooges, The Modern Lovers, and MC5. They were denied success in the '70s when Clive Davis, president of Columbia Records, pulled out financial support after the band refused to change its name. Politicians in my Eyes failed to sell.
Only a few Deathly Songs were ever recorded, but they had They are just now being recognized as one of the early shots fired in the punk movement.
7th BESSIE COLEMAN
When Bessie Coleman was denied the right to learn to fly in the United States, she decided to go to school to learn French pilot's license. In seven months, she was released in 1921, where she created a media stir as the nation's first black female pilot.
Coleman soon began performing at stunts for waves of spectators, all while to make sure they are celebrating their deaths. Unfortunately, just a few years later in 1926, while prepping for a stunt in Jacksonville, Florida, a wrench became stuck in the gears of her plane, which went into an unexpected nosedive and spin. Coleman was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the plane. She died on impact.
8. JERRY LAWSON
A picture of the Fairchild Channel F, complete with the system's innovative cartridges.
Remember those video game cartridges you had growing up? The ones you'd swap in and out of your console and occasionally have to blow them to make them work? Jerry Lawson, the chief hardware engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor's game division. Lawson started his life cobbling electronics together as a child and making his own radio station in his housing complex.
Lawson's most high-profile assignment was the Fairchild Channel F video game console in 1976. This system is interesting for a lot of reasons-the
More important, though, is the fact that he and his team had lost their hands on the computer The technology already existed in a rough state and was licensed to Fairchild, but lawson and his team perfected it, making video game cartridges an omnipresent part of the industry from The '70s all the way through to today.
Need more proof that Lawson what an early Silicon Valley pioneer? He was in the same homebrew computer club as Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in the '70s and' 80s
9. CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
Longtime comic book fans Christopher Priest from writing Black Panther in the late '90s and early 2000s, and even older ones. Jim Owsley.
Priest came on the Marvel scene as an intern in the late '70s and became a writer in the early' 80s, working on characters like Spider-Man, Iron Fist, and Falcon. Spider-Man while still in his twenties.
During his career, he's dipped in and out Deadpool, Batman, Conan the Barbarian, and so many others. And so, one of the original architects behind Milestone Comics, a company founded by black creators, gives a diverse voice to the industry. When it slows down, it retires from the business, at one point becoming a bus driver in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Fans curious about Priest are in luck , though. Deathstroke Justice League Comic as well as Marvel's Inhumans : Once and Future Kings .
10. MARIE VAN BRITTAN BROWN
All Marie Van Brittan Brown wanted to be safe at night, as well as to keep them safe their homes. Brown lived in Jamaica, Queens at the time when the crime rate in New York City was on a steady ascent, and they were often unable to respond to every emergency. To help ensure the family's safety, Brown, a nurse, and her husband, Albert, to electronics technician, created a security system made of peepholes, monitors, microphones, remote door locks, and an emergency alert button that could contact police.  This is credited as the first modern home security system and patented in 1966.
11. FRITZ POLLARD
Steven Towns, Fritz Pollard's grandson, standing next to Pollard's Pro Football Hall of Fame bust in 2005.  Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images
Standing at only 5 feet 9 inches, Fritz Pollard did not have the kind of size that's typical for gridiron success, but he still managed to break down football's color barrier multiple times.
After school, he served a stint in the army before joining the Akron Pros of the American Professional Football League (later the NFL) in 1920. In 1921, he named coach of the team, while still playing. The APFA became the NFL in 1922 while Pollard was still a coach at Akron, which makes him the NFL's first African-American coach. He continued until 1926, when the NFL segregated and got rid of all the black coaches and athletes.
NFL squads but was never successful. Despite his unfortunate departure from the game, Pollard was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
12. OSCAR MICHEAUX
Before the FDNY was established, the city of New York had its first female firefighter in Molly Williams, so who happened to be a slave at the time. She was accompanied to Benjamin Aymar at 42 Greenwich St. in the early 19th century, and she soon found herself part of Oceanus Engine Co. 11, where Aymar served as a volunteer.
Williams was well known around the fire house, with hello to Aymar during this time. In March 1818, though, the city was struck by two calamities: a historic blizzard crippled the streets and a wave of river incapacitated many of the volunteer firefighters.
According to legend, Molly was the only one who was in charge of the call, and the image of the lone woman was hauling the water out in the snowy Streets has become a sort of folklore. She was reportedly received as an unofficial volunteer of the fire house thereafter, given the distinction Volunteer no. 11.
14th LUTHER LINDSAY
kept a photo of Lindsay in his wallet until his death.
Inside the ring, Lindsay was a technician, but culturally he is best known for two barrier-breaking moments. He was the first black wrestler to go against a white wrestler in the South when he was pitted against Ron White in Texas. And while the National Guard was brought in to fend off any riots, the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of Lindsay that night. White even stated, "We had riots down there, but instead of killing."
His next cultural achievement came when he was given the honor of being the first black wrestler to challenge for the NWA Lindsay battled the champ to a time-limit draw.
Lindsay died in a match in 1972, but his pioneering career helped countless black wrestlers achieve stardom over the years.
15. EARL LLOYD
In 1950, the first three black players in NBA history were drafted by the league, but through a quirk in the schedule, Earl Lloyd of the Washington Capitols earns the distinction as the first African-American to play in an NBA game. The other two players were Chuck Cooper of the Boston Celtics and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton with the New York Knicks.
The stint did not last long, as Lloyd was drafted to fight in Korea after just seven games. He would play for the Syracuse Nationals and the Detroit Pistons upon his return, and later on as a scout and assistant coach for the Pistons (a first for the NBA). He would later be named the team's head coach-the fourth black head coach in league history, but the first that was not a player at the same time.
16. DR. SHIRLEY JACKSON
NICHOLAS KAMM, AFP / Getty Images
Much of the technology behind how we communicate today is made easier by advocements that Dr. Shirley Jackson helped create. While working at AT & T Bell Laboratories, they worked on and invented the technologies that would go into everything from fiber optics cables to fax machines, and even caller IDs. It's no surprise that Jackson was able to accomplish all this in her career-as a student, she became the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in physics and the first to earn her doctorate in any subject from MIT.  17th MAURICE ASHLEY
Maurice Ashley “/>
Maurice Ashley was born in Jamaica and moved to the Brownsville section of Brooklyn when he was 12. It would be another two years before he would discover the game that would earn him a unique place in history: chess. The first black player to ever be in his or her new year, Ashley would have to learn the first steps into the future US Chess Hall of Fame.
Despite being a spirited, respectful game, Ashley has learned his share of slurs over the years, though he would always keep forging ahead. He told the Chicago Tribune that's exactly why he likes the game, because with chess, "Your moves do the talking."
18th. ALLISON DAVIS
During the 1940s, anthropologist dr. William Allison Davis What a brilliant, pointed, and perceptive study on the road that helped illuminate the African-American struggle in the United States. In his studies, Davis wrote numerous books on.
Davis wrote many books on it thesis on the subject of marriage with fellow husband and wife anthropologist, Elizabeth Stubbs Davis. In the case of the I.Q. tests, Davis led groups that helped cities discard their standard formats, which he proved to be biased.
19. FRAN ROSS
Though writer Fran Ross does not have a prolific body of work, it does not exist someone far ahead of her time. Her lone novel, Oreo published in 1974, takes a hard-edged, satirical look at race as it centers on the titular Oreo, a young African-American girl who goes on a quest to New York City to find her white, Jewish father.
Ross combined timely themes, absurd humor, and shades of the mythological Greek story of Theseus to craft a story from the other, more conventional socially conscious novels of the time. Oreo did not find success in the '70s, but it has gained something of a cult following since.
Ross's writing career did not end there; Essence and Playboy and even made a comedy for Richard Pryor. Fran Ross had to say something was less profound.
20. WILBUR C. SWEATMAN
There's a lot of "firsts" to check off on the resume of Wilbur C. Sweatman. He is reportedly the first musician to record a take on Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" and among the first to join the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). Most notably, though, hey what the first African American to receive a long-term record contract and possibly to record jazz in general.
21. LEWIS LATIMER
Lewis Latimer was born in 1848 to parents who had fled to Massachusetts after escaping slavery. After serving in the Civil War, Latimer taught himself technical drawing, which included a design for a vehicle and a new style of bathroom for rail cars. He soon began working with Alexander Graham Bell, who helped him with the drawings.
Most notable, though, was Latimer's own patent for a carbon filament. Before this, Thomas Edison's light bulbs were powered by a filament made of paper, which would burn out quickly. This carbon filament would become popular and help popularize the bulb for average users. The patent was sold, and Latimer then patented the process to produce the filament on a large scale. His electrical and engineering know-how led to him supervising the installation of major lights like New York, Philadelphia, and London.
22. MARY ANN SHADD CARY
Mary Ann Shadd Cary can sometimes be lost among the names of African-American social activists of the 19th century, but their impact is as important as anyone's. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware to a free African-American family. The Liberator which was run by William Lloyd Garrison, a noted abolitionist who also supported the later women's suffrage movement.
In the years before the Civil War, Cary was an Ardent abolitionist and eventually moved to Canada after the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act. The Provincial Freeman making her the first black newspaper editor in North America.
She moved back to the United States during which she became a recruiting officer for the United States in Indiana , Harvard, where she got her degree, making her the second black woman in the country ever to do so.
23. LONNIE G. JOHNSON
Lonnie Johnson, but if you've ever been around a group of kids on a hot summer day, you've definitely (and probably unwillingly) felt his influence. Johnson, a former engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the man behind the infamous Super Soaker squirt gun.
The idea came to him in 1982 when he shot some pressurized water across a room when he was working on a new heat pump for refrigerators. Johnson said he "put the hard science stuff behind and start [ed] working on some really fun stuff."
After Winning A lawsuit in 2013, Johnson Was Awarded Underpaid Royalties For His Invention, Netting Him More Than $ 72 Million From Hasbro. Johnson's work also includes contributions to NASA's Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini Probe, which studied Saturn.
24. ALEXANDER MILES
Before Alexander Miles invented a system to open and close automatically, he said, "What are you doing?" secure. And guess what?
Miles saw the potential for danger when riding in an elevator with his young daughter, so devised a system of elevator doors could open and close on their own, eliminating the hazard of human error ,
And, after moving to Chicago in 1899, he founded The United Brotherhood, a life insurance company that catered to an African-American population.
25. SHIRLEY CHISHOLM
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Shirley Chisholm She is not ready to break. The Representative from Brooklyn, Chisholm became the first African-American woman to serve on the United States Congress, remaining in office from 1969 to 1983. While representing New York's 12th Congressional District, she founded the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women's Political Caucus,
And while that's enough of a career for a successful politician, Chisholm's most high-profile job came when she decided to go to the first woman to run for President as a Democrat in 1972.
On January 25, 1972, she made a speech outside of the US Capitol, proclaiming:
"I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud." I'm not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I'm equally proud
"I stood here now without endorsements from many big-name politicians or celebrities or any kind of prop." I do not intend to give you the tired and glib cliches which have been too long since.
This story originally ran in 2018.