Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1, 1920, in Roanoke Virginia. She was a wife and a mother of five. In 1941, Henrietta and her husband moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Lacks went to John Hopkins Hospital on January 29, 1951, because she was experiencing abnormal pain and bleeding. Dr. Howard Jones diagnosed her with cervical cancer. While receiving radiation treatment, doctors removed two cells from her cervix without her knowledge. Lacks died on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31. Her cells were sent to a laboratory and Dr. George Otto Gey noticed something different with Lack’s cells. He discovered her cells could be kept alive and could continue to grow. Dr. Gey created a cell line and named it HeLa. He isolated one specific cell and multiplied it. The HeLa cell was used by Jonas Stalk to develop a vaccine for polio. In 1955, scientists cloned the cells and the demand for them grew. Over ten thousand patents involving the HeLa cell have been registered since then. Researchers have used the cells to study diseases and illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS. They have also used the cells to test human sensitivity to new products, such as tape, glue, and cosmetics. The Lack family did not find out about Henrietta cells being removed and used for experiments until the 1970’s. In 1973, they received a call from a scientist who was looking for family members to get blood samples and to find out genetic questions, such as hair and eye color. The HeLa cell launched a multimillion-dollar industry and her family has never received a profit or the recognition Henrietta deserves.
George Stinney, Jr. was born October 21, 1929, in Alcolu, South Carolina. He was the youngest person to be executed in the United States during the 20th century. Stinney was 14 at the time of his death. He was arrested March 23, 1944. The officers questioned him in a small room, by himself without a lawyer or his parents. Three officers claimed Stinney confessed, but there was no proof of a written confession. Stinney could barley read and write. He was convicted in a two hour trial for the murder of two white girls, ages 11 and 8. There was no physical evidence. All they knew was Stinney spoke to the girls prior to their murder. The girls had stopped and asked Stinney and his sister directions as they walked pass the Stinney’s house. It took the jury 10 minutes to come back with a guilty verdict. On December 17, 2014, Stinney’s conviction was posthumously vacated, which was 70 years after his execution.
The Congressional Black Caucus organization represents the African American members of the United States Congress. In 1969, a committee of African American members from the House of Representatives organized the Democratic Select Committee. In February of 1971, the name of the organization was changed to the Congressional Black Caucus. The goal of the organization is, “positively influencing the course of events pertinent to African-Americans and others of similar experience and situation”, and “achieving greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services.” The founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus are Shirley Chisholm, William L. Clay Sr., George W. Collins, John Conyers, Ronald Dellums, Augustus F. Hawkins, Ralph Metcalfe, Parren Mitchell, Robert Nix, Charles Rangel, Louis Stokes, and Washington D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy.
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was born January 18,1856, in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. He was the first African American to become a member of the American College of Surgeons. In 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association for African American doctors. Williams also performed the first successful pericardium surgeries (open heart) in the United States of America. He also founded Provident Hospital in 1893, which was the first non-segregated hospital in the United States of America. Provident Hospital was also a medical training school, which trained African American nurses and doctors of all races.
Hattie McDaniel was born June 10, 1895, in Wichita, Kansas. She was an actress, singer, comedian, songwriter, stage actress, and radio performer. She was one of the first African American women to sing on the radio. McDaniel is best known for her role as Mammy in the 1939, film Gone With The Wind. The role she portrayed earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, which made her the first African American to do so. McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One is for her contribution radio and the other is for acting. McDaniel was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1975. In 2006, McDaniel was honored with an U.S. postage stamp, which made her the first African American Academy Award winner to do so. Hattie McDaniel died on October 26, 1952 of Breast Cancer
Harry S. McAlpin was born July 21, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. On February 8, 1944, McAlpin became the first African American reporter to attend a U.S. Presidential news conference. He was a journalist for the National Negro Press Association and the Atlanta Daily World. While waiting to enter the oval office for the press conference, McAlpin was approached by a reporter from The Times-Picayune (New Orleans). The man who approached him was also the head of the White House Correspondents Association. McAlpin was informed that the other white reporters were angry that he was going to be able to attend the press conference. He was also told it was nothing they could do to stop him from attending the press conference, but if he willing chose not to attend the press conference, the other reporters would provide him with their notes and they would make him a member of the White House Correspondents Association. McAlpin declined their request and attended the press conference in the Oval Office. At the end of the press conference, McAlpin walked pass President Franklin Roosevelt’s desk and the president shook his hand and said “Harry, I’m glad to have you here.”
Eric Holder was born January 21, 1951 in New York, New York. He is the 82nd Attorney General of the Untied States of America and has been in office since 2009, under President Obama administration. He is the first African American to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General. In 1997, he became the first African American Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton administration. Holder served as a judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and served as a United States Attorney prior to becoming Attorney General.
Arthur Ashe was born July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia. He was a professional tennis player. Ashe was the first African American selected to the United States Davis Cup Team. He is the only African American male ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and Australian Open. Ashe has also won three Gram Slam titles. In the early 1980’s, Ashe was infected with HIV after receiving a blood transfusion during heart surgery. In 1992, he announced his illness to the world and founded the Arthur Ashe foundation for the defeat of Aids and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He dedicated the last years of his life educating people on HIV and AIDS. Arthur Ashe died February 6, 1993. President Bill Clinton awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 20, 1993.
The Friendship Nine are a group of men who went to jail in 1961, after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The group decided to do “jail no bail”, which was doing 30 days in jail and not paying a $100.00 fine. This saved civil rights groups money from bailing them out of jail. While in jail, the men refused to work twice and they were feed bread and water as punishment. The men were called the Friendship Nine because 8 of the men were students at Rock Hills Friendship Junior College. In January of 2015, 54 years later, the Friendship Nine convictions were overturned. Only eight of the men were alive. The conviction was overturned by the nephew of the original judge who convicted them in 1961. For more information visit here!
Marian Wright Eldelman was born June, 6, 1939. She is a children rights activist and the president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, which was founded in 1973. Eldelman was the first African American woman to be admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She started practicing law with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s Mississippi office. While working for the NAACP, she represented civil rights activists during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. Eldelman helped launch the Head Start Program. She also assisted with organizing the Poor People’s Campaign and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. While living in Washington D.C. Eldelman founded the Washington Research Project, which was a public interest law firm that took interest in issues that related to children. She is currently holding her position as leader of the Children’s Defense Fund, which have already persuaded Congress to support adoption, overhaul foster care, and to protect and improve child care for children who are homeless, neglected, abused, and disabled.