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Black History Month: 8 influential figures

By ELeyshon 02 Oct 2017

Black History Month runs throughout October to honour and celebrate the achievements of black men and women in history, and to educate us on those influential individuals.

Here are a few you need to know about:

  1. Frederick Douglass.
    The first well-known black person in America to fight against slavery. Douglass saw some of the worst brutality and was known as the slave who freed himself by running away from his owners and fighting for equality. He stood for 'right is of no sex - truth is of no colour'.
  2. Martin Luther King. 
    The legendary civil rights activist who continually fought for the rights of African Americans, despite being imprisoned. He was the leader of Rosa Parks' Bus Boycott and created the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. His 'I have a dream...' speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. 
  3. Maya Angelou.
    She kept silent 5 years to symbolise the voiceless life of women. But thanks to the influence of her literary heroes she opened her mouth again to speak as a powerful and passionate woman, writing 'about blackness from the inside, without apology or defence'.
  4. Nelson Mandela. 
    The former South African president and activist had a huge contribution to ending racial segregation by leading peaceful protests and armed resistance against the white minority. Despite multiple imprisonments, he went on to be the first black president of South Africa! 
  5. Rosa Parks.
    Everyone knows of the mother of the freedom movement for her resistance to racial segregation by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white citizen. But often overlooked is Claudette Colvin, who was ONLY 15 when she became the first woman to complete this act of defiance and stand up for equality. 
  6. Bob Marley.
    He achieved international stardom as he fought for social equality through his rebellious reggae music. His songs of faith and devotion created a legacy which lives on today.
  7. Johnny Bright. 
    One of the greatest players in college and Canadian football league history but victim to one of the worst racially motivated plays. Bright was intentionally knocked unconscious 3 times during a game and had his nose broken, yet returned to play 2 weeks later and received the Sportsmanship Award for his courage!
  8. Mary Seacole.
    The first black woman to make her mark on British public life. Despite her help being declined, through her own efforts and expense she got to the Crimean War, risking her life to bring comfort to wounded and dying soldiers.

Check out the Black History Month website to find out more about important events in history that have shaped how we live and our views today.

Don't forget to check at your university (and the African & Caribbean Society) for any events dedicated to Black History Month and get involved with your local community too!


ELeyshon is is an energetic soul who loves netball. A Welsh speaker who loves welsh cakes!
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