History is unique in the way it helps us reflect the past, see how much we have changed or stayed the same in the present, and what we can do to create a better future. While we are taught about wars, rebellions, freedom, the Constitution, and more; there are still more untold stories. Stories about triumph, strength, courage, change, and more. Unsung heroes whose stories changed and shaped the United States of America we know now, omitted between the pages of manifest destiny, the colonization, the Reconstruction era and the Civil Rights movement. Luckily, their stories have a way of popping up and, with research, calling to be heard and have its rightful place in history. Below I will be listing five American heroes most people either have only heard of in passing or never at all. Each hero’s story has impacted America in ways still visible and felt today.
“[new page = Charles R. Drew]” 10. Charles R. Drew
Drew was the first African-American to earn a Doctor of Medical Science degree. Drew heavily impacted the medical field of his time and today. Thanks to him blood banks were created and he developed the way to process and store blood plasma. He led the blood banks of the United States and Great Britain but refused to do so after a law was passed calling for the segregation of the blood of African-Americans.
“[new page = Harriet E. Wilson]” 9. Harriet E. Wilson
Before there was Ida B. Wells, Zora Neal Hurston, and Alice Walker, there was Harriet E. Wilson. She was the first African-American woman novelist and the first African-American to publish a book in the United States in 1895. Her book “Our Nig: Sketches From The Life Of A Free Black” detailing her life as an indentured servant subjected to physical and emotional abuse, did not receive fame at the time. However, it later found by Henry Louise Gate Jr., and confirmed as the first African-American book published in America.
“[new page = Victor H. Green]” 8. Victor H. Green
Green created a guide for African Americans, who traveled in the Jim Crow era. Green published “The Negro Motorist Green Book” which detailed hotels and restaurants that did business with African-Americans.
“[new page = Sarah Loguen Fraser]” 7. Sarah Loguen Fraser
At a young age Fraser helped treated slaves who were injured due to their owners and escaping thanks to her father helping to house slaves on the Underground Railroad. Fraser became a physician and pediatrician in order to provide aid to people who needed it. In 1876, Fraser was the first woman to receive a M.D. from Syracuse University of Medicine and opened a practice in Washington, D.C. She met and married Charles Fraser and they moved to the Dominican Republic, where she was the first woman doctor in the country. She offered free medical care to the poor.
“[new page = Garrett A. Morgan]” 6. Garrett A. Morgan
If you have ever seen a traffic signal then you have this man to thank. Morgan created the traffic signal as a way to keep people safe on the roads. While Morgan is barley known for his invention of the traffic signal he also invented the gas mask, a hair straightening preparation tool, and more.
“[new page = Claudette Colvin]” 5. Claudette Colvin
She was one of the first people arrested for refusing to offer her seat to a Caucasian rider. It was 1955 and 15-year-old Colvin refused to give up her seat and was a pioneer in the movement nine months before, the late and great, Rosa Parks.
“[new page = Barbara Johns]” 4. Barbara Johns
Johns was a pioneer in the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case which desegregated schools. A 16-year-old Johns, in 1951, lead a walkout in Motown High School in Prince Edward County, Va., to protest the inequality of segregated schools. While her school could only hold 200 or so students, the students totaled 400. Johns was one of the cases which made up the famous landmark case.
“[new page = Mary McLeod Bethune]” 3. Mary McLeod Bethune
Bethune is famous for opening a school for African-American students in Dayton Beach, FL now known as Bethune-Cookman University. Bethune was a pioneer in education for African Americans. She was the President of the National Council of Negro Women and became the advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“[new page = Bessie Coleman]” 2. Bessie Coleman
Coleman was the first African-American woman pilot and the first African American to hold an international pilot license. Bessie Coleman the tenth of thirteen children and knew her passion was to fly. Coleman broke a gender and racial barrier proving that everyone deserves the chance to fly high.
“[new page = Asa Philip Randolph]” 1. Asa Philip Randolph
Randolph was the brains behind the Civil Rights Movement of 1963. Not only was he the brains, but he was also responsible for the first Black union called Pullman Porters. If you watched the Cosby Show, Cliff constantly mentioned his dad being a Pullman Porter. Thanks to Mr. Randolph African-Americans a work in government. His speech begins at the 16 minute mark.