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Famous African-Americans Throughout history many famous African-American men and women have contributed significantly to society as far as civil rights, music, science, sports, equality are concerned. Their remarkable efforts and achievements, and life stories are often are quite worthy of high recognition.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. No single African American in history is perhaps as famous as Martin Luther King, Jr. A federal holiday on the third Monday each January celebrates his legacy.
- Rosa Parks. Best known for refusing to move to the back of a bus after being demanded she give up her seat to a white person, Rosa Parks was labeled as the “Mother of the Freedom Movement” following her bold disobedience subsequent arrest.
- Muhammad Ali. Born Cassius Clay in 1942, Muhammad Ali made his name in the sport of boxing as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all-time. He changed his name in the early 1960s from “Cassius Clay,” which he associated with slavery, and adopted a new one from the Islamic tradition that symbolized a new black separatist movement in the United States.
- Frederick Douglass. In Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, he outlines his life and subsequent escape from slavery, which proved instrumental to the abolitionist movement and the ultimate goal of ending slavery.
- Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander | Writer | 1898-1989. 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.
- Richard Allen | Minister | 1760-1831. A minister, educator and writer, this Philadelphia native founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent Black denomination in the United States.
- Maya Angelou | Poet | 1928-2014. Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist with a colorful and troubling past highlighted in her most famous autobiography, "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings".
- Arthur Ashe | Tennis Player | 1943-1993. Ashe's resume includes three Grand Slam titles and the title of the first Black player selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only Black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.
- Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (Nov. 29, 1908 – April 4, 1972) He was the first person of African-American descent to be elected from New York to Congress. In 1961, after sixteen years in the House, Powell became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, the most powerful position held by an African American in Congress.
- Alex Haley. (August 11, 1921 – February 10, 1992) Alex was an American writer known as the author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family.
- Angela Davis. She emerged as a prominent counterculture activist and radical in the 1960s as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Anna Murray-Douglass. (1813 – August 4, 1882) She was an American abolitionist and member of the Underground Railroad. Anna was the first wife of Frederick Douglas.
Arna Bontemps (1902-1973) Edward W. Brooke (1919-2015) Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) Blanche K. Bruce (1841-1898) Ralph Bunche (1903-1971) George Washington Carver (1864-1943) Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) Kenneth B. Clark (1914-2005) John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998) John Coltrane (1926-1967) Bill Cosby (born 1937) Alexander Crummell (1819-1898)
- Molefi Kete Asante