Xavier University of Louisiana
On September 27, 1915 Xavier University opened its doors and became the first Black Catholic College in the United States.
Dr. Ralph J. Bunche
United Nations under-secretary general for special political affairs (1955 - 1970), became the first Black awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on September 22, 1950 for his successful mediation of the 1949 armistice between Israel and Arab states. Born in Detroit, Bunche worked his way through the University of California at Los Angeles and graduated in 1927. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1934. He directed the UN peacekeeping efforts in the Suez (1956), the Congo (1960) and Cyprus (1964). He also served in the U.S. State Department prior to joining the UN. He also won the Spingarn Medal in 1949. He died December 9, 1971.
Nat King Cole
The legendary singer/entertainer and father of pop singer Natalie Cole, was the first Black person to host a major television variety show. The Nat King Cole Show ran for 64 weeks in 1956 - 57 on NBC-TV. Although the show was popular and had good ratings, it wasn't able to survive because it couldn't secure a commercial sponsor. Cole was also the first Black person with a network radio show. That show ran for 78 weeks in 1945 - 46 on NBC radio and was sponsored by a hair tonic manufacturer.
Gordon Alexander Parks
Born on November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, KS., his film The Learning Tree became one of the first black films to be registered by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress on September 19, 1989. Gordon Parks was the first Black director of a major motion picture studio production when he adapted his book, The Learning Tree, into a film of the same title. That film was followed by the two box office smash-hits Shaft and Shaft's Big Score. In addition to his outstanding career as a film maker, Parks, 83, is an esteemed photographer, composer, poet and painter.
Mary Church Terrell
Born in Memphis, TN in 1863 to parents who where entrepreneurs and fairly wealthy . Mary Terrell he earned a masters of Arts degree from Oberlin College, before pursuing studies in Europe.
Upon her return, she became quite active in Washington, DC politics and educational reform, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the DC board of Education, from 1895 to 1901 and 1906 to 1911. She also used revenue from her lectures to establish a kindergarten in the Black community. As first president and founding member of the National Association of Colored Women, she organized and taught evening classes.
The stated purpose of the Association was "..to collect all facts obtainable to show the moral, intellectual, industrial and social growth and attainments of our people, to foster unity of purpose, to consider and determine methods which will promote the interests of colored people...."
Patented the safety gates for bridges on October 7, 1890 (patent #437,937). These gates consisted of a long-hinged or sliding piece of wood attached to the entrance of a bridge structure that opened and closed whenever the bridge was raised or lowered.
One of the most well-known figures in history of civil rights in America and the first Black Supreme Court Justice was born on July 2, 1908. On July 13, 1965 he was appointed first Black Solicitor General of the United States and on June 13, 1967 he was appointed to the Supreme Court by Lyndon Johnson, being sworn in as first Black Supreme Court Justice on October 2 of the same year. At that time, he became the Justice with the most experience arguing before the Court. He served on the Court 24 years until June 28, 1991 when he announced his retirement due to advancing age and deteriorating health. He passed away January 24, 1993.