Garrett Morgan discovered a formula that could straighten hair, created and patented the predecessor gas mask in 1914, launched an prominent African-American newspaper, Cleveland Call, in 1920 and patented an improved traffic signal with three options, go, slow down and stop rather than two in 1983 and he ultimately sold it to General Electric for $40,000, a significant amount at the time. Mae C. Johnson was the first African-American woman astronaut to go to space , a dancer, an actress, a doctor, a college professor and holds numerous accolades from her career that began in 1973 when she graduated high school with honors then went to Stanford before flourishing and making history. In 2001, Robert Johnson, creator of Black Entertainment Television became the first African-American billionaire.
History continues to be made for African-Americans. Rihanna became the first Dior campaign star in 2015. Lebron James was the first black man on Vogue and the first lifetime contract at Nike. Besides being the first African-American to be World No. 1 in 2002 and being a key advocate for equal prize money for men and women players in tennis, Venus and sister Serena were the first African-American women to have an ownership stake in a NFL franchise. To name a few of the many record shattering feats Beyoncé, she was the the first African-American woman to win the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year award in 2001 and the first female to receive the International Artist Award at the American Music Award in 2007.
Not to limit ourselves to entertainment, African-Americans have made many feats in recent history. Father and son, Troy and Chase Reed, created the world’s first sneaker pawn shop with $30,000 inventory/collection, social media and a dream. What started as a way to deal with bullying, skyrocketed Egypt Ufele to fame with her line, Chubiiline, being debuted in New York and Atlanta at the tender age of ten in 2015.
Black History Month will soon be over but black history will never stop being made. Black women continue to lead in entrepreneurship and education attainment. Black Lives Matters has made history with its mission of ending police brutality. Laverne Cox is crusading for LGBT rights and making history in the progress with TRANSform Me making her the first African-American trans woman to produce and star in her own TV show and being the first open transgender to appear on TIME, among other feats.
Regardless of the month, black excellence will continue to shine and prosper. Acknowledge the growth and seek out improvements. Remain unapologetically black. Work with Rihanna. Get in formation with Beyoncé. Stand with Kendrick Lamar. Record your passions with Ava DuVernay. Talk politics with Anthony Foxx. Invest with Charles Hudson. Just don’t be stagnant.