Black History Month: People Who Shaped History

Black History Month

It’s easy to think of Black History Month as something that’s confined to the past. However, Black people continue to make strides in every area of modern life. And while we recognize people like Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and former U.S. Congressman John Lewis as great Americans who made a difference in the lives of Black (and white) Americans, here are some people who are still making Black history today.

Robert Lee Satcher Jr.

Robert Lee Satcher Jr. is an American astronaut, and if that was all he ever achieved, it would be an incredible career. Instead, Satcher — born in 1965 — holds an M.D. from Harvard, as well as a chemical engineering PhD. from MIT. He became an orthopedic oncologist specializing in bone cancer treatment before joining NASA as an astronaut. Satcher became the first Black male astronaut physician to serve as the crew’s medical doctor during the STS-129 NASA Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station among many other accolades in his career.

Lani Guinier

Born in 1950, Lani Guinier was the first African-American woman to become a tenure-track professor at Harvard University. She graduated from Yale in 1974, and went on to practice law after clerking for U.S. Court of Appeals judge Damon J. Keith. Guinier worked as part of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund before moving on to serve as special assistant to Drew Days III, who was the first Black man to lead the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. She eventually became head of that division’s voting rights program. She won 31 of the 32 cases she argued and helped expand the Voting Rights Act.

S.A. Cosby

S.A. Cosby is one of the most highly regarded writers of modern crime fiction, taking his place alongside past masters like Walter Mosley and Gar Anthony Haywood. Cosby began his writing career with a novel titled My Darkest Prayer. He followed that up with a breakout hit called Blacktop Wasteland before releasing one of the finest crime fiction novels of the 21st century: Razorblade Tears. Cosby’s particular genius has been recognized with multiple Anthony and Macavity awards — some of the highest honors in the crime and mystery-writing genres — as well as an International Thriller Writers award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Behind the scenes, Cosby believes in giving back to the writing community that helped him grow, mentoring several young writers on their path to publication.

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History Is Happening Now

Remember that Black History isn’t something that’s trapped in the past. It’s not static. Instead, it continues to evolve around us every day.

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