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Thankful For Our Black American Heroes

Written by: Erendira Zazueta, Coalition Coordinator

The entire month of February we celebrated Black History Month and all the Black people in history and the present day who have made an impact in our lives. It’s important to highlight all of them but unfortunately, we can only go into further depth with just a few. Without the work of these people, we wouldn’t be the society we are today.

The first person to highlight is Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner. She was born on May 17, 1912, and her parents were both inventors as well. At six years old she tried to invent a self-oiling door hinge, so since she was little, she has always been curious about inventing. She had many ideas for inventions like a sponge tip at the end of an umbrella that would soak up rainwater and a portable ashtray that would attach itself to a cigarette pack.

It was in 1957 when she invented the sanitary belt. The sanitary belt was created to prevent the leakage of menstrual blood on clothing. She couldn’t afford her own patent and the Sonn-Nap-Pack company hear about this, so they contacted her in hopes to market the invention but when they learned she was Black they decline. So, it is important for us to remember that it was Mary Kenner who invented the first sanitary pad for menstruation.

Another person to highlight is Claudette Colvin. Claudette was born in 1939 and grew up in the same town Rosa Parks grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. Everybody remembers Rosa Parks as the first Black person to sit at the front of the bus and not give up their seat, but Claudette did the exact same thing nine months before Rosa Parks. When the Rosa Parks incident happened, Claudette wanted to speak up about her experience but her mother told her to be quiet about it because she was a pregnant teenager with darker skin so I wouldn’t be a good look for her. Although she isn’t as recognized for being the first Black person to not give up their seat and go to the back, she made a great impact on society and helped with the segregation movement.

During segregation it was difficult for people of color to be taken seriously or be able to own much but Robert Sengstacke Abbott challenged the racism. Abbott was born in 1870 in Georgia. He had studied law and decided he wanted to practice law and work as a lawyer. He was discouraged from practicing law because he was “too dark”, and people would not want him to be their lawyer because of his skin color. Instead of giving up he started working in journalism and was an editor. In 1905 he ended up founding the Chicago Defender newspaper. The newspaper highlighted issues of racism and discrimination as well as stories of black social and economic progress. It became the largest black owned newspaper in the nation.

The story of Robert Abbott shows that being discouraged does not mean it is the end. Just like him, many Black American Heroes dealt with racism and injustice but pushed through that to create history! Now they will be remembered for years and years for their contributions to society. It is important to highlight Black Heroes during the month of February, but it is also important to keep learning about them throughout the year. If you learned something new today about Black American Heroes be sure to share this information with you friends, families, or coworkers.

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2.      Wikipedia contributors. (2024, March 1). Claudette Colvin. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:48, March 4, 2024, from

3.      National Museum of African American History and Culture (2024). Remembering the Chicago Defender, Print Edition (1905 - 2019).,circulation%20of%20fewer%20than%20300.

Image Sources

1.      Wikipedia contributors. (2024, February 26). Mary Kenner. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:51, March 4, 2024, from

2.      The Black Wall Street Times (2022). Claudette Colvin, arrested for refusing to give up a bus seat, has record cleared at 82.

3.      Brilliant Start Magazine (2024). Shining Lamp: Robert Sengstacke Abbott.

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