Black Figures in History


Genesis Quiette and Jayden Hodge

Do you know the hidden figures in black history? There are so many people that are hidden in history and blocked from the public. This has affected so many black communities and young people, from not being able to learn about the amazing true black history.

Everyone knows Rosa Parks, right? She was one of the black figures that we currently celebrate and talk about when we discuss black figures. She refused to give up her seat on a bus. Back in the 1950s, Black people would have to stand at the back of the bus because of their skin color. She was arrested, but she also started the Montgomery bus boycott. From a quick Google search about her you would see that she is named the “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.” 

But she wasn’t the first lady to stand for what is wrong. 

This untold figure is Claudette Colvin. Nine months before Rosa parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on the Montgomery bus, Claudette did it first. She became an untold figure of black history. She refused to give up her seat and said she paid her fair share and it was unconstitutional. But she was arrested by two police officers, just because of the color of her skin. Some people who don’t know her story wonder why she is not celebrated or well known. It is because she was 15 years old and pregnant. The movement wanted someone who was presentable to the public.   

But Claudette was still able to do great things. Claudette later became the main witness in the federal lawsuit Browder v. Gayle, which ended segregation on public transportation in Alabama.

These figures in black history have an important role in our history.

Another woman is Althea Gibson. Before Venus and Serena Williams, she was the young black woman that shook up the world of tennis. Tennis had been a long segregated sport when her skill and strength broke the color barrier in the 1950s. At a young age she loved tennis. Her neighbor recognized her talent and helped by raising money to pay for tennis lessons. She is not a household name when it comes to black figures. But she was the woman who walked before Serena and Venus could run. Althea won many local competitions at a young age. She continued to win and in 1956 Gibson became the first African American woman to win the Grand Slam Tournament. She also was the first African American to compete in the US National championships. 

After tennis, Althea took up professional golf. She was the first black player on the LPGA tour. Even in a different sport, racism followed her. She is not talked about as frequently as Jackie Robinson, but she had a great impact in the sports world and had been working towards this since she was a little girl.

These women had a great impact on the black movement and history. Even if people don’t know a lot about them, they worked in the shadows so that known figures could shine in the spotlight. People should know more about these figures in history to increase their education and to see true, unknown stories in black history.

There’s so many more black people in history that we don’t talk about today. But being educated at least gives people more insight on black America.