February, a month of black history and excellence. We couldn’t end this month without highlighting some of our historical African American men and women, whose brave and resilient contributions led to many of our freedom we know today. One  of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Dr.Martin Luther King was an American activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement who spoke against racial injustice from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. He had a dream on August 28, 1963. Millions of people all races gathered in Washington at the Lincoln Memorial. It was one of the largest protests. Today, our nation strives to rise up and live out the true meaning of his creed. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” – Dr.King

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Rosa Parks was a brave civil rights activist who refused to surrender her seat after a long day of work to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested but her defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott was a huge success, lasting for 381 days and ending with a Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation on public transit systems to be unconstitutional. Its success launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities.

The Little Rock Nine: Thelma Mothershed Wair, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, and Melba Pattillo Beals.

In 1957, The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School. The NAACP had registered these nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School. They were selected on their criteria of excellent grades and attendance. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis and outrage, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. At this time LRCH was an all-white school many parents didn’t want there their children to attend school with African American students. When integration began on September 4, 1957, the Arkansas National Guard was called in to “preserve the peace.” Originally at orders of the governor, they were meant to prevent the black students from entering due to claims that there was “imminent danger of tumult, riot, and breach of peace” at the integration. However, President Eisenhower issued Executive order 10730, which federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to support the integration on September 23, 1957, after which they protected the African American students.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013)

was a South African political leader and philanthropist who served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” – Nelson Mandela