In honor of Black History Month, here’s a list of Chicagoans you should know
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Chicago wouldn’t be the city it is today without pioneers like Bessie Coleman, Ida B. Wells and Jean Baptiste Point du Sable.
In honor of Black History Month, here’s a list of African American activists, journalists, athletes and others whose lives had a lasting impact on Chicago.
Robert Sengstacke Abbott
Robert Sengstacke was the founder and publisher of the Chicago Defender, one of America’s premier black newspapers. The Defender played a crucial role in The Great Migration by posting job ads for work in northern states.
Timuel Black is a historian, author and civil rights activist who provided counsel to Martin Luther King, W.E.B DuBois and Barack Obama. He was also a Chicago Public Schools teacher for 30 years.
Bessie Coleman was the first African-American licensed pilot. She raised money for an African-American flying school by barnstorming, parachute jumping and giving lectures.
Rube Foster, who was widely known the “The Father of Black Baseball,” was the manager of the National Negro Leagues’ Chicago American Giants. The American Giants played their home games at Comiskey Park, the home of the Chicago White Sox.
Wilson Frost, a former Chicago alderman, was widely known for declaring himself the city’s acting mayor when Richard J. Daley died in December 1976.
Fred Hampton was the president of the Black Panthers’ Illinois chapter. Hampton was known as a person who built a multicultural coalition across Chicago.
Vernon Jarrett was a columnist whose work appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Jarrett was one of the cofounders of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Chicago chapter.
Astronaut Mae Jemison was the first black woman to travel to space.
Hazel Johnson was an environmental activist who lived in Altgeld Gardens, a famous housing project on the Far South Side. She often pressed the Chicago Housing Authority for answers regarding environmental hazards, since Altgeld Gardens, which was originally built for black military veterans, was near a landfill.
John H. Johnson
John H. Johnson was the longtime publisher of Ebony and Jet Magazine, two publications that documented black life in America.
Montford Point Marines
The Montford Point Marines were some of the first black men to serve in the U.S. Marines Corps. They recently acquired the funds to save their Chicago Chapter hall, which is in need of repairs.
Lu Palmer was a journalist with the Chicago Defender and later a columnist with Chicago Daily News. He was influential in the election of Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington.
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian immigrant, was Chicago’s first non-Native American settler. Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History is named after him.
The Pullman Porters
The Pullman Porters worked on the railroads as sleeping car porters. Many of their members organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, America’s first black labor union.
Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells was an activist and journalist. She wrote the book “The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States.” In 2018, Congress Parkway was renamed after her.
• The Grid: Exploring the Pullman neighborhood
• State law to mandate black history courses at public colleges in Illinois
• Black History Month time to reflect on the real meaning
• 1st black woman president for 130-year-old Metropolitan Water Reclamation Board