15 Influential Black Leaders Who Changed The World.
#6. Robert Sengstacke Abbott
Born in 1870, Robert Sengstacke Abbott lived a life that most people wouldn’t have the courage to live. He was born as the son of slaves, but he grew up with a half-German stepfather whose family became a part of the Third Reich in the 1930s. In 1905, Abbot started a weekly newspaper. Eventually, it would turn into one of the most important Black newspapers in history, The Chicago Defender. Using his newspaper as an outlet, Abbot initiated the Great Migration, which was when 6 million Black people from the South moved to urban cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and the West to seek better job and living opportunities. Thanks to the success of The Chicago Defender, Abbott became one of the nation’s most prominent Black millionaires.
#7. Bessie Coleman
After trying and failing to succeed in Chicago, 23-year-old Bessie Coleman decided to go to France. In 1920, Bessie used all of her savings to move to France, where she studied their language, and after only seven months, she could fly an airplane. In June of 1921, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale gave Bessie an international pilot’s license. Over the next several years, Bessie performed in air shows performing death-defying stunts and encouraging other Black people to learn to fly. She also refused to fly in places that wouldn’t allow other Black people to attend! Bessie's biggest accomplishment, though, is opening a school so she could teach other Black women to fly! Unfortunately, Bessie, who was the first licensed Black pilot, died in a plane accident in 1926, but not before leaving her mark on society. Quoted from the author and equal rights advocate, Ida B. Wells, "There is reason to believe that the general public did not completely sense the size of her contribution to the achievements of the race as such."
"I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly."― Bessie Coleman
#8. Ella Baker
Ella Baker was born on December 13, 1902, in Norfolk, Virginia. Ella became inspired by her grandmother, who was a slave, to strive for systematic change and justice for the Black community. Ella developed a grassroots approach as an NAACP field secretary in the 1940s. Her mission was to gather and convince Black people around the country that a society can and should exist “without discrimination based on race.” In 1957, Ella moved to Atlanta to help Martin Luther King Jr. form the well-known Christian Leadership Conference. Her job was to build campaigns, organize protests, and she also ran a voter registration campaign, which was called the Crusade for Citizenship. Inspired by the sit-ins that young protestors were holding all over the country, Ella built the foundation for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which became one of the most important organizations in American civil rights history.
"Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind."― Ella Baker
#9. Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune was born in South Carolina, and she was just a young girl when she began to work in the fields. She dreamed of becoming a missionary in Africa, but she was told that Black people weren’t allowed to go. Instead, she decided to educate the people in her town. Using $1.50 and six of her students, Mary founded the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904. Twenty years down the road, the school merged with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida, which Mary became the president of. In 1924, she also became the president of the National Association of Colored Women. Only 10 years later, Mary founded the National Council of Negro Women. During her career, Mary used her resources to put an end to poll taxes and lynching. She also organized protests against businesses that wouldn’t hire Black people.
"We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends."― Mary McLeod Bethune
#10. Nyeeam Hudson
At the time, 10-year-old Nyeeam Hudson was playing at a park in New Jersey. Like so many other kids, Nyeeam became the object of attention for a bully. The other kid began to tease Nyeeam about the fact that his shoes were a bit outdated. Luckily, Nyeeam had a strong heart and soulful mind and told the bully, “These sneakers aren’t even going to fit 20 years from now.” Nyeeam then made sure to point out that what really matters is “inside your mind: your wisdom, your knowledge, your power to inspire others.” Nyeeam then made a video about the encounter, and made sure to remind parents that they should teach their children not to be materialistic because, “Once they don’t have Jordan’s or the cool clothes on, they’re going to feel like they’re not important.” The video went viral and Nyeeam has turned into a young motivational speaker! Going by the name King Nahh, Nyeeam delivers positivity to others in his videos, urging them, to be fearless and to accept that they won’t always win. Nyeeam is currently working on publishing a book he wrote to empower children.
“You can’t expect to complete your dreams and do these different things without having the hate and people saying ‘you suck.’ What’s the point of getting upset and angry? You don’t say ‘you suck too.’ If you become ignorant like that person, you’re just like them. You can’t try to prove a point and do the same thing that person is doing. You gotta conduct yourself different.”― Nyeeam Hudson
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