Interesting People I’ve Learnt About

Why I Decided To Write About These Interesting People In Particular

I had been meaning to do a post on the interesting people that I have learnt about in my classes so far for a while now. However, with everything going on right now I thought I would share some information about interesting African American people that I have learnt about. I admire the more famous figures that we hear about often but I thought I would also include some lesser known people because people who don’t study history may not have heard about them.

Phyllis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784)

I first heard/learnt about her in my American Enlightenment class. She was from West Africa and was sold to a Bostonian as a slave when she was a child. Her owner taught her how to read and write and she soon became really good at both. She soon began reading things that had Enlightenment and Revolution ideology and also began writing her own poetry. She became the first African American to author a poetry book. She also faced a lot of criticism for her writing as many refused to believe an African American could write so well and even had to defend her writing in court. For more on her click here.  

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)

He had little formal education but was taught to read by his grandmother and as a child became an avid reader. He also became interested in Maths and engineering. As an adult he became interested in learning more about astronomy. He also caught the interest of many Americans at the time and eventually became a surveyor. He went on to author almanacs that were became quite famous at the time. For more on him click here. 

O. B McClinton (1940-1987)

He was one of the few African American country musicians. The reason I added him to this list is because he was also the only African American country musician that actually addressed racism in the music industry and in the country music genre in particular. He put out multiple songs about the reaction he gets when listeners realise he’s black and the problems he faces as a African American in the music business/country music genre. He remains one of the few people that spoke out and did not shy away from the topic of race and racism. For more on him click here. 

Melba Pattillo Beals (1941-present)

She is best know for being one of the Little Rock Nine. These were the first African American students who attended Little Rock Central High School when it was integrated. I picked her book Warriors Don’t Cry to review for one of my American History classes and reading it really brought tears to my eyes. The way these children were treated and everything they went through really opens your eyes to the injustices that black people face in America. I would highly recommend reading Warriors Don’t Cry along with her other writing. For more about her click here. 

I also wanted to share these videos that I have come across in my classes that I thought were worth sharing at this time.

Let me know who your favourite African American historical figure is in the comments below.

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50 thoughts on “Interesting People I’ve Learnt About

  1. Bob Moses was an activist in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the group who led the sit-ins and freedom rides in the early 1960s. He became the lead organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, which brought 1,000 northern (mostly white) college students into the citadel of segregation to try to register black people to vote–a perilous undertaking then. A SNCC organizer said he went into a Mississippi gas station and saw a wanted poster with Moses’ picture, put up by the Klan. But, Moses didn’t scare easily. Another activist said he was in a car with Moses driving through rural Mississippi when they were tailed by another car, presumably the Klan. Moses said, “they won’t bother us,” and went to sleep.
    But, Moses shunned the spotlight and never became famous. After leaving political activism, Moses developed unique methods of teaching math to inner city students.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that! I actually know very little about Bob Moses except one thing we learnt about him in my Sixties class so I really appreciate all the information. I will definitely do more research on him- he seems like a pretty amazing person.

  2. Great research Pooja … there are many more interesting peoples we can’t find them in books or internet. They are not famous but they lot of contribution to make this world beautiful for us and welfare for humanity and mankind… <3 <3
    Angel Like

      1. Thank you for sharing your learnings, my knowledge of African American historical figures is sorely lacking. Chuck Berry would be my favourite, but my knowledge is skewed more towards knowing about music and musicians than any other area.

  3. It’s very thoughtful sharing this PoojaG!
    I like people of color who use music as a weapon to speak up about societal ills.
    Fela Anikulapo Kuti was one like that and he wrote and performed songs about problems of leadership in Nigeria before his passing.

    1. Thanks! He seems like a very interesting person- I’ll do some more research on him for sure. Thanks for the comment!

  4. I had not heard of any of these historical figures before, but I feel that we should be learning about more diverse figures in the US 💯.
    Not a US figure, but I didn’t know that the author of the Count of Monte Cristo & the Three Musketeers was half black and half French! I wish his classic works were read more in the school system, too!
    Also, not an article, but I recently watched 13th by Ava DuVernay and it was eye-opening. Def worth the watch – the full film is free on YouTube right now.

    1. Ooh that very interesting I did not know he was half black and half French! I’ve heard about 13th and I definitely want to watch it!

  5. Thank you, Pooja! These types of educational posts are so important. Learning about African American history not only increases understanding but also inspires social justice activism. I’m willing to bet that many of the protestors we are seeing in the streets took at least one African American history class while in school.

    1. Yes education is key. That’s the only way people will learn about the past and past mistakes and that is the only way we can rectify the future. People need to understand the problem before forming an opinion about it.

  6. These artists are very interesting to read about . I’m glad you posted this. It’s inspiring reading about what people going through tough times can achieve. It’s a beautiful thing. People like them shape history in a profound way

    1. Yeah I was so inspired learning about these amazing people I wanted to share them on here so other people can learn about them too.

  7. Great post. Very educational! I dont even remember when but a while I go I started to get into the Little Rock Nine. This makes me want to start researching again!

    1. You have to read Warriors Don’t Cry- it literally made me cry so hard. I learnt about the whole situation in one of my classes and it’s very interesting to read about. It’s also a bit scary that not too much has changed since then. You should definitely get back into researching it!

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