Black History Month

black history month color bars

Join us in recognizing and appreciating the contributions and achievements of Black Americans throughout our history in this annual celebration, the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

(1928-2014)

Civil rights activist, poet and award-winning author known for her acclaimed 1969 memoir, 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,' and her numerous poetry and essay collections.

Maya Angelou was an American author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction bestseller by an African American woman. Angelou received several honors throughout her career, including two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, in 2005 and 2009.

Learn more about Maya Angelou

Photo source: Creative Commons


arthur as he

Arthur Ashe

(1943-1993)

First African American to win the men's singles titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and the first African American man to be ranked No. 1 in the world.

Arthur Ashe became the first (and remains the only) African American male tennis player to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon singles titles. He was also the first African American man to earn the No. 1 ranking in the world and the first to earn induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Always an activist, when Ashe learned that he had contracted AIDS via a blood transfusion, he turned his efforts to raising awareness about the disease, before finally succumbing to it on February 6, 1993.

Learn more about Arthur Ashe

Photo source: National Archive


patricia bath

Patricia Bath

(1942-2019)

First African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment in 1986.

Patricia Bath was the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology in 1973. Two years later, she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute. In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that "eyesight is a basic human right." In 1986, Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, improving treatment for cataract patients. She patented the device in 1988, becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent.

Learn more about Patricia Bath

Photo source: National Library of Medicine


misty copeland

Misty Copeland

(1982-Present)

First African American performer to be appointed as a principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre.

Misty Copeland endured a tumultuous home life to find her way to dance, eventually studying under California ballet instructor Cynthia Bradley. Copeland joined the studio company of American Ballet Theatre in 2000, becoming a soloist several years later and starring in an array of productions such as The Nutcracker and Firebird. An icon whose star shines beyond the world of classical dance, in 2015 Copeland became the first African American performer to be appointed as an ABT principal dancer in the company's decades-long history.

Learn more about Misty Copeland

Photo source: Creative Commons


michael dyson

Michael Eric Dyson

(1958-Present)

Academic, author, ordained minister, radio host, and Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University.

Dyson is a Georgetown University sociology professor, a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor of The New Republic and of ESPN’s The Undefeated website. Dyson’s extensive academics has spanned a wide range of topics including race, religion, politics, hip-hop, popular culture and contemporary issues in the African American community. He is a noted author of more than 20 books.

Learn more about Michael Eric Dyson

Photo source: Jean Song/MEDILL


lonnie johnson

Lonnie George Johnson

(1949-Present)

Former Air Force and NASA engineer who invented the massively popular Super Soaker water gun.

African American engineer and inventor Lonnie G. Johnson earned his master's degree in nuclear engineering from Tuskegee University and went on to work for the U.S. Air Force and the NASA space program. After tinkering with the invention of a high-powered water gun, Johnson's Super Soaker became a top-selling item by the early 1990s. He has since been developing the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter (JTEC), an engine that converts heat directly into electricity, which Johnson's sees as the path to low-cost solar power. Currently, Mr. Johnson holds over 100 patents, with over 20 more pending, and is the author of several publications on spacecraft power systems.

Learn more about Lonnie George Johnson

Photo source: Creative Commons


marjorie joyner

Marjorie Joyner

1896-1994

American Businesswomen

Marjorie Joyner was an American businesswoman, hair care entrepreneur, philanthropist, educator and activist. Joyner is noted for being the first African-American woman to create and patent a permanent hair-wave machine.

Learn more about Marjorie Joyner

Photo source: dailykos


meshed ndegeocello

Meshell Ndegeocello

(1968-Present )

American singer-songwriter, rapper, and bassist.

Ndegeocello was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany, to army Sergeant Major and saxophonist father Jacques Johnson and health care worker mother Helen. She was raised in Washington, D.C. where she attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. Her music incorporates a wide variety of influences, including funk, soul, jazz, hip hop, reggae and rock. She has received significant critical acclaim throughout her career and although she has never won a Grammy Award, she has been nominated ten times. She has been credited for helping to have "sparked the neo-soul movement."

Learn more about Meshell Ndegeocello

Photo source: Bones Jones Music

© 2021 City of Elk Grove. All Rights Reserved.