JSEC’s Take On Black History-Top 31 African Americans Listed


JSEC Newspaper Staff Group Story, Photographer and Journalist




“I think Black History Month is important because it brings us together.   It reminds us that black history, is a part of all history, our history as a whole.  I also think it should always be black history month every month because of what black people have been through tough times in this country.” -Ali

“Black history month is important because it’s a reminder of important people. Also of the african diaspora.I feel like this should be every month because you should always remember what happened, not just forget then remember it for a month.Black History month should be remembered every month as a reminder and to show how far we have come”-Marieliza

“Think about it, recognition of a very important community that has been mistreated for YEARS should be a main purpose in this country.   Black History Month is the month where we all come together to celebrate all the black lives who are and were leaders, may have lost a life due to police brutality, people who brought their beautiful culture to this country and made an impact in mistreatment towards this community, and many more. Throughout the years this community has been growing and growing due to people recognizing that we should fight and make a difference once and for all.  This shouldn’t be celebrated just in one single month, Why not all? Why don’t we come together every month and make this community feel welcomed every single day? But even if we have a specific month for it, the rest of the impacted families and friends may use that month to fight for a difference.”-Roseline

“It’s important to know your roots and its important to know history so it doesn’t repeat itself.  Without a question BHM should be every month because everyday young black women and men are making history and setting  new standards for the generations to come.  So that the young little black boys and girls never have to go through what we went through as fellow black people in America or just black people in general, because we HAVE gone through A LOT” -Antonia

“Black History month is important because we need to understand the struggles and the sufferings people go through and went through because of something like skin color. It’s something that is crucial to learn so we can move forward as a society and learn and also teach the younger generations because things like racism are taught and that’s why there should be more than just a month” -Delaila

“I think Black History Month is important because we celebrate all the amazing people in this world and what they have done to make the world better” -Sheila

“I think black history month is important because it is used as a reminder. Reminding us of what others went through to pave the way for colored people today. African americans being celebrated is very important and it should be celebrated constantly, remembered throughout history,and definitely not forgotten for the other 11 months. It should also be constantly taught in history classes, we always read and study the stories of those who have made contributions to our world now but people of color have been left out in these history books” -Kelin

“The month of black stories is important because it teaches you everything that people of color went through, it also teaches you that everything they lived through and that they even lost people in the attempt to have freedom.  Black History month teaches you that although there were people who did not they want voices to be heard back then and  the only person with enough power to silence you.  Many in history unfortunately tried to make sure opinions were not heard, deemed them as invalid, or simply ignored it” -Gisselle

“I think Black History Month is important because it reminds us of all the great things African Americans have done in this country.  Every month should be black history month to show African American culture and how much we appreciate them.” -Luis

“Black History month is important because it brings awareness to others about the great talents and intelligence, and how not sharing this awareness brings the past into unnecessary darkness.  Every month should be Black History Month because every day the black community should be acknowledged” -Jennifer

“It’s very important and it began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African dialogue. It should be celebrated every month as honor and hope” -Johaley

“I believe black history month is important because it gives a chance to give the spotlight to those african americans that have done outstanding things and to not neglect the fact that america overlooked them before and didn’t recognize them for who they are as a person if not for the color of their skin and for that i believe that black history month should be every month because not only for forgiveness but to recognize their success and persistence during the years.”-Jason



(Please note the order is not in any particular ranking, it is just the 31 names JSEC students stated who have made contributions and have had an influence in their and many other’s lives)

  1. Michael Jordan–   Changed the game of basketball in so many ways.  He never gave up.
  2. Muhamed Ali–  The best boxer to ever live and fought endlessly for equality
  3. Jay Z– A famous rapper that came from the poorest areas in the USA and worked hard to  make a future for himself
  4. Ruby Bridges–  First African American student to integrate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana “She ate lunch alone and sometimes played with her teacher at recess, but she never missed a day of school that year.” She established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education
  5. Bessie Coleman– First African American woman to fly an airplane;American schools denied her so she taugh herself french,moved to France,and got her flying license there. “ She specialized in stunt flying and performing aerial tricks.”
  6. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander– Was the first African American woman to receive a PH.D.;She was the first woman student to graduate with a law degree “The Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School (“Penn Alexander”) in West Philly is named after her.”Beyonce
  7. Beyoncé- A great black woman that has represented this community by bringing the gift of music. With her music she has been able to tell stories and make the black people of our generation feel welcomed. Not only has she done that, but she’s been an example to us all. As a beautiful black woman she has won 28 grammys making a record, this shows the young black folks from our generation that it is possible to make it up there and be successful.
  8. Barack Obama– The first ever African American president in this country has improved this world unconditionally. He has represented this community and made sure all black people were treated well, unlike Trump. Until this day he has all black people’s back and has become a great leader to us all. He has also shown the young folks what it is like being a great leader and how everyone should be treated equally.
  9. Kamala Harris–  The Vice-President of our country, and sets a great example to the people like her. With her help she will make a change to the cruel things that Trump had left from his presidency.
  10. Marie Van Brittan Brown– She invented the first home security system.  Every early black inventors for inventing the things we need in our daily lives. In some cases those items today are items we can’t live without.
  11. Harriet Tubman- Freed 300 slaves and never got caught. Most of those  slaves decendets are roaming the streets today as a free man/women.
  12. African Women who drew out the plantation field susing their hairs….aka, braids.  Braids were created by enslaved women and they planned escapes by using these braids as tools.
  13. Martin Luther King Jr. – A minister who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement
  14. Shirley Chisholm – She became the first black woman elected to congress in the late ‘60s representing New York’s 12th district with the slogan “Unbought and Unbossed”
  15. Dorothy Height – “Godmother of Women’s Movement” she advanced women’s rights by using her background in education and social world.
  16. Maya Angelou– She has been influencing women and women and persons of color empowerment through books, lectures, and movies.
  17. Rosa Parks–  Helped initiate the civil rights movement in the United States when she refused to give up her seat to a white man.
  18. Kobe Bryant -NBA star; Humanitarian- Vocal advocate for the homeless
  19. Nipsey Hussle- American activist; Entrepreneur; Grammy award winning rapper -denounced gang violence through his music, influence,  and community work.
  20. Nina Simone-   :Musician; Civil rights activist- Music crossed al genres, bringing all types of people together.
  21. Arthur Ashe- 1st African American entered into the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
  22. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander- A native Philadelphian, Alexander was the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. in economics in the United States, the first black woman student to graduate with a law degree from Penn Law School, and the first African-American woman to practice law in Pennsylvania. Alexander’s work and views are recorded in speeches kept in the Penn archives. The Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School (“Penn Alexander”) in West Philly is named after her.
  23. Richard Allen-  A minister, educator and writer, this Philadelphia native founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black denomination in the United States. He opened the first AME church in Philly in 1794. Born into slavery, he bought his freedom in the 1780s and joined St. George’s Church. Because of seating restrictions placed on blacks to be confined to the gallery, he left to form his own church. In 1787 he turned an old blacksmith shop into the first church for blacks in the United States.
  24. James Baldwin-  Baldwin was an American novelist, playwright and activist, most notably known for “Notes of a Native Son”, “The Fire Next Time” and “The Devil Finds Work”. One of his novels, If Beale Street Could Talk, was adapted into an Academy Award-winning dramatic film in 2018.
  25. Jackie Robinson- The first African American to be part of the major leagues.
  26. Ira Aldrige- The first african american to achieve succes on the international stage.
  27. Richard Allen- He was a minister, educator, writer, and one of America’s most active and influential black leaders.
  28.  Will Smith- Known to most as an actor and activist promoting the importance of the 13th and 14th Amendments
  29. Ice Cube- He is best known for being a rapper and rapper-turned-actor who first gained fame as a member of the legendary rap group N.W.A. He is also known for his roles in the films Boy’z N The Hood, Barbershop, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, Ride Along and Are We There Yet?  He is an equal rights activist.
  30. Carruthers George- Invented the ultraviolet camera/spectrograph, which was used by NASA when it launched Apollo 16 in 1972.
  31. Mary Jackson- NASA’s first black female engineer


Now that we have had the 1st African American President (President Obama) and currently have the 1st African American Female Vice President (Kamala Harris) we thought to poll what type of positions still were in need of an African American or Person of Color to hold a certain position.  Details below:

“I hope we have an African American Rhode Island Mayor,  and it’s because maybe he can reflect more on the lifestyles of people who live in Providence or other city”  -Ali

“A lawmaker in RI who would ensure that all our voices  are represented in our government, and in an ideal world, they would make decisions that they believe will positively affect their constituents” -Marieliza

” I would like to see an African American governor in Rhode Island sometime in the future because we will be able to enlarge the support and the leaders here”-Roseline

“I think more Africian Americans should be the President maybe they can change the world and do better like Obama did”-Sheila

“There is a stigma around African Americans being “dangerous”, young teens being part of gangs and being constantly judged by simple things like their own hair. Their hair has been deemed as “unprofessional” in the past and still in our day today. We’ve all seen the horrific stories and situations in which these accusations have ended badly, as bad as death. With African Americans being a BIGGER  part of this, less people would be judged unfairly”-Kelin

“Speaker of the House of Representatives, because that means there will finally be an African American who will be the one who speaks which is considered very  high privileged”-Johaley

“A female African American President would impact the U.S because not only will she be the first female President but she will be the second African American President and the first female African American President.”-Jason