Black History Help
December 19, 2011 4:21 PM   Subscribe

I am tasked with creating "Cultural Heritage" posters for the transit agency I work for. Black History Month is fast approaching and I'm short on ideas/time.

Past posters featured Dr. King/Mrs. Parks, WEB Dubois/Zora Neale Hurston, Ella Fitzgerald/Charlie Parker, William Powell/Bessie Coleman, Ida B. Wells/Frederick Douglass.

As you can see, I keep to a theme each year and feature folks who are not living. We are in the US, so I focus on Americans. Since we are a public agency, I can't use anyone controversial or polarizing.

We do this for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, LGBT Month and Hispanic Heritage Month (which is not a month since it runs from 9/15 to 10/15) as well so I may be back for more help.

If I use your suggestion I will mail you a poster when they are printed!
posted by agatha_magatha to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Daniel Hale Williams is credited with performing one of the first open heart surgeries.

Augusta Savage was a celebrated sculptor.

(Just in case you wanted to keep the male/female on a single poster thing going.)
posted by xingcat at 4:37 PM on December 19, 2011

According to the Berkeley College of Engineering:

1948: Howard P. Grant becomes the first black graduate of the College of Engineering

After making Berkeley history as the first black student to graduate from the College of Engineering, Howard P. Grant made his mark not only as a respected civil engineer but as an inspiration and mentor to minorities throughout California and the entire country. The College of Engineering is proud to celebrate the life of this esteemed graduate during Black History Month.

That could be half of it.
posted by carter at 4:44 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Jackie Robinson and Wilma Rudolph?
posted by paddingtonb at 4:47 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cardiac pioneer Vivien Thomas
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:48 PM on December 19, 2011

Mildred Bailey, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:05 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

A. Philip Randolph
posted by plastic_animals at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2011

George Washington Carver.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:13 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

transit agency

A. Philip Randolph?
posted by Jahaza at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2011

Gah, too slow.
posted by Jahaza at 5:16 PM on December 19, 2011

Rosa Parks? Keeping with the transit theme....
posted by pantarei70 at 5:24 PM on December 19, 2011

For someone vaguely (okay, not really) transit-related: Benjamin Banneker.

A blindingly bright timeline of African-Americans in mathematics. (Granted, it's sort of already been done--I was reading the MAA's African-American Mathematicians poster earlier today. But everyone needs more mathematican postsers!)
posted by hoyland at 5:25 PM on December 19, 2011

Thurgood Marshall/Shirley Chisholm
posted by timsteil at 6:23 PM on December 19, 2011

Charles Drew who pioneer blood transfusions and blood banks
Sojourner Truth or Elizabeth Freeman (MumBet), who both used the justice system to carve out additional rights for enslaved people.
posted by carmicha at 6:48 PM on December 19, 2011

Jesse Owens.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:15 PM on December 19, 2011

Madame C. J. Walker - millionaire businesswoman in the early 20th century.

Garrett Morgan - inventor of the gas mask and the first traffic light.

Phyllis Wheatley - first important black female poet in the US. more
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:52 PM on December 19, 2011

Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr - fighter pilot
posted by cadge at 1:18 AM on December 20, 2011

Langston Hughes - "...poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance."
posted by peagood at 5:17 AM on December 20, 2011

Almost kinda transportation related: Marshall "Major" Taylor.
posted by look busy at 8:00 AM on December 20, 2011

Bayard Rustin. His contribution to the Civil Rights Movement is extremely important but mostly obscured.
posted by kuppajava at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2011

Buffalo soldiers.

Harlem Renaissance.
posted by maurreen at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2011

Everyone whose names we don't remember. What I mean is, instead of focussing on particular worthy individuals, see if you can come up with something that makes this point: during the times that we (Americans in general) consider to be important to our founding history (say Colonial times to Civil War?), there were actually many more Africans than Europeans in America. I'm thinking of the whole hemisphere, North and South, though the same would be true for just North America if you want to limit your focus.

I was astounded to learn this for the first time just last year, watching the PBS series Black in Latin America. It shook my view of the world in a way that it desperately needed shaking. Maybe our schools are doing a better job of teaching history now, but I'm ashamed and abashed that I lived nearly 60 years as a fairly well educated American under the very wrong assumption that, once the Native people were "dealt with," white-skinned Europeans were always the majority folk. The versions of "history" that I was taught allowed me to assume that "America" was always mostly white people, plus a few slaves. Well, more than a few, but my (very wrong) impression was that there were many fewer Africans here than Europeans. In fact, there were about 4 - 5 times more Africans in the Americas than Europeans. (I'm very unsure of the actual numbers and times; sorry I don't have a more specific cite tan the PBS series.) My ignorance still astounds me.
posted by Corvid at 11:54 AM on December 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thank, everyone for the ideas. We are going with George Washington Carver and Madame CJ Walker. Send me a me-mail if you would like a copy of the poster when they are printed in about two weeks.
posted by agatha_magatha at 4:04 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

That is fun, thanks for the update!
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:29 PM on January 17, 2012

Response by poster: Here's a link to the finished 2012 poster. Thanks again!
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:37 PM on February 16, 2012

How fun; thanks for posting it!
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:12 PM on February 16, 2012

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