1940-1994 Born in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph was the first female American runner to win three gold medals in the Olympic Games. She earned the title of “World’s Fastest Woman” by winning the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash and anchoring the 400-meter relay at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
These achievements would be considered remarkable by any standard, but in light of the fact that as a child Rudolph suffered an attack of polio and scarlet fever that left her unable to walk without braces or orthopedic shoes until age twelve, they are amazing.Â Rudolph’s phenomenal accomplishments helped remove barriers to women’s participation in track and field events. Continue reading
Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928), inventor, scientist; born in Chelsea, Mass. Latimer served in the Union Navy in 1863, studied drafting, and later invented and patented an incandescent light bulb with a carbon filament in 1881.
He served as an engineer for the Edison Company for many years, and while with Edison supervised the installation of the electric light system in New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Montreal, Canada; and London, England.
Latimer wrote the first textbook on the lighting system used by the Edison Company, and he was employed by Alexander Graham Bell to make patent drawings for the first telephone. He also served as chief draftsman for General Electric and Westinghouse companies.Â Continue reading
Born on Dec. 13, 1923, in Camden, S.C., Doby grew up in New Jersey. He didn’t start out in life longing for a career in professional baseball. He once said that he grew up wanting to teach and coach in high school.
But in 1942, a Negro League umpire recommended to the owner of the Newark Eagles that Doby, still in high school at the time, get a tryout.Â “They gave me a tryout, and I made the team,” Doby said. “That’s how I got involved in Negro League Baseball.”
Doby proved he was star material early in his Negro League days. He was an All-Star second baseman whose baseball credentials might have been better than Robinson’s.Â Continue reading
Civil rights activist and reformer. Parks is best known for instigating the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 in protest of segregation laws. Rosa Louise McCauley was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskagee, Alabama. Her father, James, was a carpenter, and her mother, Leona, a teacher. Parks attended a liberal private school as an adolescent.
After briefly attending Alabama State University, she married Raymond Parks, a barber and activist, in 1932, and the couple settled in Montgomery, Alabama. Besides working as a seamstress and a housekeeper, Parks was involved in several African-American organizations. She served as secretary for her community chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and also worked for the Montgomery Voters League, the NAACP Youth Council, and other civic and religious groups.Â Continue reading
Caterina Jarboro (1903-1986) was a pioneering African American opera singer. In 1933 — twenty-two full years before Marian Anderson’s dÃ©but at the Metropolitan Opera — impresario Alfredo Salmaggi hired Jarboro to sing with his opera company at the Hippodrome.
She was thus the first black opera singer ever to sing on an opera stage in America. (This milestone earned Salmaggi special recognition from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.Â Continue reading