DEI-B Discussions: Black History Month
During Black History Month and throughout the year, we celebrate Black culture by educating our community and embracing our differences. During our internal February Town Hall, our DEI-B team hosted a trivia session to educate our team members on African American accomplishments.
Now, we’re sharing those facts with you as we close out Black History Month, although we encourage you to continue your education on Black history and culture throughout the year. Read on to test your knowledge and learn something new.
Did You Know…
15 jockeys rode in the augural Kentucky Derby. Of those, 13 were Black.
The inaugural Kentucky Derby was won by a colt named Aristides. On Saturday, May 17, 1895, Aristides was ridden by 19-year-old Oliver Lewis, one of 13 Black jockeys in the race. During that time, most of the jockeys and handlers of racehorses were Black. After his racing career, Lewis became sort of a racetrack tout. He was a bookmaker (which was legal in those days), and he also developed the first handicapping tables along with the first racing forms. Lewis died in 1924 in Lexington, Kentucky.
The first African American woman to graduate from nursing school in the US was Mary Eliza Mahoney in 1879.
Mary Eliza Mahoney became the first professionally trained African American nurse in 1879. She entered the New England Hospital for Women and Children’s graduate school for nursing in 1878 along with 40 other students. What followed was 16 weeks of extremely challenging and grueling intensive training. Mahoney completed the course and was one of only four of her classmates to graduate and become a nurse.
In 1870, South Carolina became the first state to elect an African American to the House of Representatives.
Joseph H. Rainey was born in 1832 in Georgetown, South Carolina. Born enslaved, Rainey was elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican during the forty-first Congress of the United States. He ultimately served five terms and worked tirelessly to protect the civil rights of Southern Blacks. He also spoke out against the infamous Ku Klux Klan during his tenure. After leaving Congress in March of 1879, Rainey was appointed internal revenue agent of South Carolina. He served in the appointment until July of 1881. He then went on to Washington, D.C., where he engaged in the banking and brokerage business. He died in the place where he was born, Georgetown, South Carolina, in 1887.
Ralph Bunche was the first African American to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
Ralph Bunche was a political scientist and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation in Palestine in the late 1940s that lead to an armistice agreement between the Jews and Arabs in the region. He was also instrumental in the preliminary planning of the United Nations in 1944 and served as an advisor to the US delegation for the Charter Conference of the United Nations held in 1948. By 1955, he was the UN Undersecretary-General for Special Political Affairs. Bunche received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 from President Johnson for his work with the UN on peace in the Middle East.
Whoopi Goldberg became the first Black host of the Grammy Awards in 1992.
In 1992, actor and comedian Caryn Elaine Johnson, professionally known as Whoopi Goldberg, became the first Black host of the Grammy Awards ceremony. She previously won a Grammy in 1985 for Best Comedy Recording. Since her turn as emcee, the Grammys have had four other Black hosts: Queen Latifah in 2005, LL Cool J from 2012–2016, Alicia Keys from 2019–2020, and Trevor Noah from 2021–2023.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote portions of his “I Have a Dream” speech at one of the first schools in the US for previously enslaved West Africans.
The Penn Center, formerly the Penn School, is a National Historic Landmark District and makes up two of the four sites in Reconstruction Era National Park. Located on St. Helena’s Island in South Carolina, the school was incorporated in 1862 but has since undergone several name changes. Today, its mission is to promote and preserve Penn’s true history and culture through its commitment to education, community development, and social justice.
In 1969, Charles Evers became the first Black man since Reconstruction to become mayor of a racially mixed Southern town.
Charles Evers, older brother of assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers, served as mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, from 1969–1978. Prior to becoming mayor, Charles took over Medgar’s role as field director of the Mississippi branch of the NAACP and was named the NAACP’s Man of the Year in 1969.
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