Madeline Marcotte was born in February 1780 at Mackinac Island, the daughter of a French-Canadian fur trader Jean Baptiste Marcotte and Marie Nekesh, an Ottawa Indian. Madeline was only 3 months old when her father died. She was raised among her mother’s people in an Ottawa village at the mouth of the Grand River near Grand Haven Michigan. She must have been a person of some status there, as her grandfather was Chief Kewinoquot.
Born as a slave in 1849 on a plantation in Woodland, Alabama, Andrew Beard was a farmer, carpenter, blacksmith, railroad worker, businessman, and an inventor. He was a self-educated farmer in Alabama when he thought up the idea of inventing a plow. In 1881, he patented one of his plows, which he sold for $4,000 three years later. In 1887, he invented another plow, sold it and used the proceeds to finance a profitable real estate business and a taxi company. In 1892, he patented his rotary engine.
Alice Augusta Ball was an African-American chemist who developed the first successful treatment for those suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Ball was also the very first African American and the very first woman to graduate with an M.S. degree in chemistry from the College of Hawaii (now known as the University of Hawaii). Tragically, Ball died at the young age of 24. During her brief lifetime, she did not get to see the full impact of her discovery. It was not until years after her death that Ball got the proper credit she deserved.
Mary Winston Jackson was born on April 9, 1921, in Hampton, Virginia, the daughter of Ella and Frank Winston. She attended Hampton’s all-black schools and graduated with high honors from George P. Phenix Training School in 1937. Five years later, she earned dual bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physical science from Hampton Institute.
A forensic scientist, an inventor, and a physical therapist, Bessie Blount Griffin is sadly not commonly recognized as a prominent African figure even though she has made a significant number of contributions to benefiting our world in the realms of injury rehabilitation.
Entomologist Charles Henry Turner was born in Cincinnati Ohio. His father, Thomas, was a church custodian and mother, Adeline, was a practical nurse. In high school, Turner was class valedictorian. He went on to study science at the University of Cincinnati where he earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees (both in Biology) in 1891 and 1892 respectively. Turner held various teaching positions including being appointed, in 1893, professor and department head at Clark College (now Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia). In 1905, he left Clark for Chicago where in 1907 he earned his Ph.D. in Zoology - becoming the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in Zoology as well as the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Perhaps the first Asian actress to appear in American cinema, lovers of silent cinema have forgotten the name Tsuru Aoki, whereas her husband, Sessue Hayakawa, remains a legend. Aoki’s film career, in fact, preceded her husband’s rise to fame in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Cheat (1915).
Thelma Garcia Buchholdt was a Filipino American community activist, politician, historian, public speaker, cultural worker, and author. Buchholdt achieved a first as a Filipino American by being elected to the Alaska House of Representatives for four consecutive terms, from 1974 through 1982 which was a predominately white district. She was the author of the book Filipinos in Alaska: 1788-1958.
Little has been written about Richard Spikes in terms of his childhood, education and personal life. What is known is that he was an incredible inventor and the proof of this is in the incredibly diverse number of creations that have had a major impact on the lives of everyday citizens.
Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879. Mahoney was one of the first African Americans to graduate from a nursing school, and she prospered in a predominantly white society. She also challenged discrimination against African Americans in nursing.
On April 18, 1975, less than two weeks before the fall of Saigon, President Ford authorized the entry of 130,000 refugees from the three countries of Indochina into the United States, 125,000 of whom were Vietnamese. This first large group of Vietnamese in America has become known as "the first wave." Those in the first wave who arrived in the mid- to late-1970s, typically had close ties with the American military and therefore tended to be the elite of South Vietnam.
Garrett Morgan was always interested in inventions. His tailoring business was equipped with machines that he personally designed. During the 1910s and 1920s, Morgan continued to invent new items. Most of these items were to improve safety on the streets and in the workplace. Morgan was most famous for patenting the first traffic signal in the United States. Morgan, himself an automobile owner, witnessed a crash between a car and a buggy. This event supposedly convinced the inventor to create the stoplight. On November 20, 1923, Morgan received his patent. His traffic signal was mounted on a T-shaped pole. It had three different types of signals stop, go, and stop in all directions. The stop in all directions signal was to allow pedestrians to cross streets safely. Morgan eventually patented this device in Canada and Great Britain as well. He sold his patent to General Electric Corporation for forty thousand dollars.
Toni Cade Bambara was born Miltona Mirkin Cadean. An acclaimed novelist, short story writer, and editor whose work is often seen as emblematic of African American women's literature in the 1960's. She spent her childhood and adolescent years in New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey where she was deeply influenced by the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s,
Japanese-American biochemist, Jokichi Takamine, crystallized adrenalin, the first hormone to be isolated in the twentieth century, from the adrenal medulla, in the summer of 1900. This was the first pure hormone to be isolated from natural sources.
Girindra Mukerji was an Indian anti-British revolutionary, organizer, and agriculturist. His article "The Hindu in America" has been widely cited as an early document describing early Indian immigration to the United States. Mukerji was born in India, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the son of a "Judge of one of the higher courts."
Crazy Horse (the translation of his Lakota name, Tasunke Witko), was a prominent leader in the Sioux resistance to white encroachment in the mineral-rich Black Hills. When Crazy Horse and his people refused to go on a reservation, troops attacked their camp on Powder River in March of 1876. Crazy Horse was victorious in that battle as well as in his encounter with Gen. George Crook on the Rosebud River. He joined Sitting Bull and Gall in defeating George Armstrong Custer at the battle of the Little Bighorn.
Phillip Bazaar joined the Union Navy in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Seaman Bazaar was assigned to the USS Santiago de Cuba. The Santiago de Cuba was a wooden, brigantine-rigged, side-wheel steamship under the command of Rear Admiral David D. Porter. Bazaar and 5 other crew members, under the direct orders from Rear Admiral Porter, carried dispatches during the battle while under heavy fire from the Confederates to Major General Alfred Terry.
In 1942 black Marines were first enlisted but were placed on inactive status until the Marines could build a training-size unit in segregated facilities at Montford Point (thus were called the Montford Pointers), a training reservation at Marine Barracks, New River, NC (later named Camp Lejune). When training began for the first black contingent, the 51st Defense Battalion, Howard P. Perry was the first person to report on that day.
Fred T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government's order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity.
In 1926 Dr. May Edward Chinn was the first African American woman to graduate from Bellvue Hospital Medical College. Chinn was also the first African American woman to intern at Harlem Hospital as well as the first African American to ride with the ambulance crew on emergency calls.
Wilma Mankiller was the first woman to serve as chief of the Cherokee Nation and she fought for the rights of women and Native Americans.
Major Aida Nancy Sanchez, Army Medical Specialist Corps, served at the 95th Evacuation Hospital near Da Nang, from December 1970 to December 1971. As the first physical therapist assigned to the hospital, she had to set up a clinic in a quonset hut that had previously served as the Post Exchange. In the meantime, Sanchez treated as many as 70 patients a day, using a ward storage area as an office. This was the first sort of clinic ever established to aid wounded soldiers with physical therapy and recovery.
Horacio Rivera, Jr., was the first Puerto Rican four-star admiral and second Hispanic to rise to full admiral, was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where Rivero received his primary and secondary education in the public schools of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The first Asian immigrants to come to the United States in significant numbers were the Chinese in the middle of the 19th Century. The Chinese, primarily from Guangdong province were motivated by problems at home as well as opportunities abroad. At that time, China was rocked by a number of violent conflicts including the Red Turban uprisings (1854-64) and the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) responsible for the death of at least twenty million Chinese. The Opium Wars of 1839-42 and 1856-60 against Great Britain also inflicted economic devastation. The Qing government of China, having lost to Britain in both conflicts, was forced to pay reparations. As a result, the Qing imposed high taxes on farmers, many of whom lost their lands because they could not sustain these payments. When the news of the 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill reached China, the dream of economic opportunity in California, popularly called Gam Saan or “Gold Mountain,” lured these…