5 Historic Black Pioneers to Know

In celebration of Black History Month, we have compiled a list of 5 Historic Black Innovators to Know. Over the course of history, many Black Americans have contributed to the success of many industries including science and technology, politics, business, sports, entertainment, and more. The 5 following individuals are held in high regard for their innovation and contribution to their respective fields, and we celebrate them for their hard work and for breaking barriers for the Black community and all minorities. Get to know them more, Happy Black History Month!

1. Guion Bluford– Astronaut, Engineer, Airforce Pilot 

Guion Bluford: Photo Credit: NASA

Although not the first Black astronaut, Guion Bluford became the first African-American astronaut to go to space in 1983. Before joining NASA in 1978, he worked in the United States Air Force as a staff development engineer and was also assigned as a fighter pilot, serving time in Vietnam. Bluford served on a total of 4 missions to space including his time as a specialist for mission STS-8 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger which tragically disintegrated in an accident in 1986 (Bluford fortunately was not on board on that particular mission). He also holds a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. Highly accomplished, Bluford is a great inspiration for those interested in the field of STEM or joining the Air Force

 2. Bessie Coleman- First Black Woman to Hold a Pilot License

Bessie Coleman/Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bessie Coleman became the first Black woman to earn a pilot license back in 1921, a groundbreaking accomplishment considering her gender and race for the time. Coleman apparently held a mixed heritage as well with Native American roots. Inspired by aviators and her brother, a World War I veteran, Coleman sought to become a pilot after hearing about female French aviators in Europe. Unable to find training in the States due to limitations for Black women, Coleman traveled to France where she took pilot lessons from war veterans. Coming back to the U.S. Coleman had trouble finding work as a pilot, but held onto her dream and eventually started showcasing flight exhibitions by performing aerial stunts for the public. Tragically, Coleman passed away at 34 years old from a plane crash while on a flight practice with her mechanic in 1926. Coleman is remembered today as a pioneer for women in aviation, and for the risks she took in pursuing her dream.

3. George Washington Carver- Scientist, Inventor, Professor

George Washington Carver

A highly influential inventor and agricultural scientist, George Washington Carver is well known for his innovative work with peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans. Having invented more than 300 products for peanut usage during his lifetime such as cooking oils, cosmetics, and soaps, he also developed new and practical farming methods used for conversation and crop rotation. Carver also believed in utilizing protein rich crops as a way for soil conservation. Carver was so influential that he was often sought out for agricultural advice from Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even Calvin Coolidge at one point. Carver was the first Black American to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Science in 1894 and eventually received a master’s a few years later. Carver was also notably a professor at Tuskegee Institute, now known as Tuskegee University, and was the first Black American to receive a national monument in his honor which is stationed in his home state of Missouri.

4.  Ida B. Wells– Journalist, Educator, Activist

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was a journalist, educator, and activist. She was also an advocate for women’s rights and rose to prominence for her edgy storytelling and editorial publications throughout the American South in which she condemned lynching, segregation, and racism. Throughout her career, she also created many organizations dedicated to civil rights and became one of the founders of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896, which still exists today. Wells also became part owner of the newspaper “The Memphis Free Speech,” and was unafraid to write about the realities of living in the segregated South. Wells also made stride with public speaking tours in the U.K. where she brought awareness to lynchings in the American South. Today, Wells is highly regarded for her courage and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988. Schools have also been named in her honor, and she will be also honored with a United States quarter in 2025.

5. Frederick Douglass– Social Reformer & Author

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglas was a prominent activist, author, political figure, and public speaker who became known for his advocacy for equal rights. A former slave himself, Douglas was also of mixed heritage and received limited education. Although he endured hardships while enslaved, he would later become one of the most important figures in civil rights history in the 19th century. Born around 1817, Douglas wrote 3 autobiographies and became a strong champion for women’s rights. He also created his own publication called “The North Star,” which then later became “The Frederik Douglass’ Paper.” Douglass also delivered the keynote speech at the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial where a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a Black man was unveiled. Douglass also served as a U.S. ambassador to Haiti and became the first Black man to hold the position of U.S. marshal to the District of Columbia.  A revered icon in American history, Douglass’s influence is still seen in today’s modern age and he has been memorialized through numerous awards and honors including a statue at the West Chester University and on The University of Maryland. A coin was also released in 2017 to honor Douglass which was a part of the  “America the Beautiful Quarters” collection.



  • Jenny Castro

    Jenny Castro is a part of the editorial team for Latinitas Magazine. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Justice from Central Washington University, and also holds a certificate in women’s entrepreneurial studies from the University of Washington. Jenny has a passion for storytelling, and loves highlighting diverse topics such as historical events, pop-culture, music, film, and leaders in the Latino community. She strives to provoke thoughtful and factual genuine storytelling in her pieces and takes pride in researching truth and authenticity. In her free time, she spends time reading her favorite books, and watching classic Hollywood films. In 2020, Jenny also appeared as a fan programmer on the Turner Classic Movies Network where she provided commentary on classic film. She is excited to be a part of the Latinitas team.

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