PHOTOS & VIDEOS
Martin Luther King Jr.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month, TIME For Kids asked several African Americans to share whom in African-American history inspired them most. Many cited Dr. King himself, including musician Alicia Keys, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and young actress Yara Shahidi. Born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. King was a Baptist minister and activist who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s to when he was killed in 1968. Click through this slide show to read about other famous African-Americans and whom they inspire.
Born July 15, 1938 in Durham, North Carolina. A former professional football player, Barnes is most remembered as a leading African-American painter.
Inspires author/illustrator Kadir Nelson
Born December 14, 1939 in New Salem, Pennsylvania. He was the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, the top award given in college football. He was also the first African American to be the first pick in the NFL draft.
Inspires senator Tim Scott
Born March 24, 1912 in Richmond, Virginia. Height was an activist who fought for equal rights for African Americans and for women. For more than 40 years she served as president of the National Council of Negro Women, a group that works to improve opportunities and life for African-American women and their families.
National Zoo curator Lisa Stevens
Born January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. Married to President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama is the first African-American First Lady of the United States.
Inspires singer/actress Toni Braxton, chef Marcus Samuelsson
Born February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was a civil rights activist who helped start the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she refused to give her bus seat to a white person.
Inspires basketball star Tina Charles
Born February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. Simone was a jazz, blues and folk music singer, who wrote songs about the Civil Rights Movement.
Inspires musician Alicia Keys
Born around 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland. A former slaver, Tubman helped other slaves escape to freedom as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad.
Inspires musician Alicia Keys, social activist/educator Geoffrey Canada, actress Yara Shahidi
Madam C.J. Walker
Born December 23, 1867 in Delta, Louisiana. One of the first female African-American entrepreneurs (she created hair care products for African-American women), Walker has been listed as America’s first self-made female millionaire.
Inspires musician Alicia Keys
Granville T. Woods
Born April 23, 1856 in Columbus, Ohio. The African-American inventor was known as the “Black Edison.” His many inventions and accomplishments include helping to create the telephone and street car.
Inspires inventor James E. West
Born February 2, 1926 in Hemingway, South Carolina. Known as the “Queen of Soul Food,” Woods was a waitress at a restaurant in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood for several years before she bought the restaurant in 1962. The restaurant, called Sylvia’s, is famous for its soul food, a traditional southern African-American cooking style.
Inspires chef Marcus Samuelsson
Born May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. Malcolm X was a civil rights activist. He encouraged African Americans to fight for equality “by any means necessary” and believed African Americans should create their own state, separate from white Americans. He was killed in 1965.
Inspires musician Alicia Keys, basketball star Kevin Durant, National Zoo curator Lisa Stevens