Ida Bell Wells was born July 16, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi, just before President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. Wells was an early leader in the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage movements, as well as a founder of the NAACP.
Educator and activist Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was born on July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina. She founded a private school for African Americans and was a member of several African American women’s organizations, sometimes called the “Female Booker T. Washington.”
Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the first African American Supreme Court Justice and served 24 years on the bench.
Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born on June 20, 1858, in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a critically-acclaimed author and the first African American novelist to have his work published in the prestigious Atlantic Monthly Magazine.
On June 2, 1863, Harriet Tubman helped lead a daring Union raid on South Carolina’s Combahee Ferry. The raid succeeded in capturing supplies, damaging Confederate defenses, and freeing over 750 slaves.
Patricia Roberts Harris was born on May 31, 1924, in Mattoon, Illinois. Harris achieved several firsts in her life. She was the first black woman to serve as an American ambassador, serve in the US Cabinet, be dean of a law school, and sit on the board of directors of a Fortune 500 company.
Celebrity Chef Edna Lewis was born on April 13, 1916, in Freetown, Virginia. Lewis is credited with reviving the long-lost style of simple Southern cooking. She was the co-owner and only chef at Café Nicholson and wrote four cookbooks that infused classic recipes with personal stories.
Chemist Percy Lavon Julian was born on April 11, 1899, in Montgomery, Alabama. Julian was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate in chemistry, and the first to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. He owned more than 100 chemical patents and was a pioneer in chemical synthesis of drugs used in medicine.