February 27, 2021 5 min read
Extraordinary Men Biography
Chadwick Boseman (1976- 2020)
Chadwick Boseman was an African American actor, playwright, director and screenwriter from Anderson, South Carolina. He graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing. He then attended the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. Chadwick Boseman was most known for his portrayals of Jackie Robinson in '42' and James Brown in 'Get on Up.' He also played the superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Boseman has been noted for several awards such as the People’s Choice Award for Black Panther, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor, as well as MTV Movie Award for Best Performance.
John Lewis (1940-2020)
John Robert Lewis was an African American politician, statesman, and civil rights activist and leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020. He was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1963 to 1966. Lewis was one of the "Big Six" civil rights groups that organized the 1963 March on Washington. He fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement that led to the end of Jim Crow and racial segregation in the United States. In 1965, Lewis led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In an incident which became known as Bloody Sunday, state troopers and police attacked the marchers including Lewis.
Thurgood Marshall (1908-1999)
Thurgood Marshall was an African American lawyer who was appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in 1967. He was the first African American to hold the position and served for 24 years, until 1991. Marshall studied law at Howard University. As counsel to the NAACP, he utilized the judiciary system to champion equality for African Americans. In 1954, he won the Brown v. Board of Education case, in which the Supreme Court ended racial segregation in public schools.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.(1929-1968)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was the son of a Baptist minister. He received a doctorate degree in theology and in 1955 helped organize the first major protest of the African American civil rights movement which was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Dr. King advocated civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to segregation in the South. The peaceful protests he led throughout the American South were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted, and the movement gained momentum. A powerful orator, King appealed to Christian and American ideals which won growing support from the federal government and public. In 1963, Dr. King led the massive March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The event’s grand finale was King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Two hundred and fifty thousand people gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial to hear the powerful speech. In 1964, the civil rights movement achieved two of its greatest successes: the ratification of the 24th Amendment, which abolished the poll tax, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education. It also outlawed racial segregation in public facilities. Later that year, King became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In the late 1960s, he turned his efforts to winning economic rights for poor Americans. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Langston Hughes was an African American writer who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He made the African American experience the subject of his writings, which ranged from poetry and plays to novels and newspaper columns. Hughes's creative genius was influenced by his life in New York City's Harlem, a primarily African American neighborhood. His literary works helped shape American literature and politics. Hughes, like others active in the Harlem Renaissance, had a strong sense of racial pride. Through his poetry, novels, plays, essays, and children's books, he promoted equality, condemned injustice, and celebrated African American culture, humor, and spirituality. Some of his most notable works include “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, “Mother to Son”, “Dreams”, and “The Weary Blues”.
Malcolm X (1925-1965)
Malcolm X was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement. He is best known for his time spent as a vocal spokesman for the Nation of Islam. He was an articulate, passionate and an inspirational orator. He expressed that Black people should cast off the shackles of racism "by any means necessary". In the early 1960s, Malcolm X had emerged as a leading voice of the civil rights movement. His popularity grew the nation of Islam by thousands of members. He stood for black social and economic independence, and segregation. He also proposed creating black neighborhoods, businesses, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation programs, rifle clubs, and literature. One of his most profound principles was the ability for one to own one’s blackness as the first step to real social recovery. Malcolm X held that the issues currently facing Black America, his family, and his community could only be understood by studying history. He traced connections between racism with the prison industrial complex, lynching, slavery, and to European colonization.
W.E. B, DuBois(1868-1963)
W.E.B. DuBois, or William Edward Burghardt DuBois, was an African American writer, teacher, activist, and sociologist whose work transformed the way that the lives of Black citizens were seen in American society. Considered ahead of his time, DuBois was an early champion of using data to solve social issues for the Black community, and his writing—including his groundbreaking The Souls of Black Folk—became required reading in African American studies. He became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895. He wrote extensively and was the best-known spokesperson for African American rights during the first half of the 20th century. DuBois co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author, and public speaker. He became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery, before and during the Civil War. During the Civil War, Douglass became a consultant to President Abraham Lincoln, advocating that former slaves be armed for the North and that the war be made a direct confrontation against slavery. Throughout the Reconstruction Era, he fought for full civil rights for freed men and vigorously supported women’s rights. Published in 1845, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is the best-known work by Douglass. It received positive reviews from critics and became an immediate bestseller selling 5,000 copies within four months of its publication.
Barack Obama (1961 -)
Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States and the first African American commander-in-chief. He served two terms, in 2008 and 2012. The son of parents from Kenya and Kansas, Obama was born and raised in Hawaii. He graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. After serving on the Illinois State Senate, he was elected a U.S. senator representing Illinois in 2004. He and wife Michelle Obama have two daughters, Sasha and Malia.