When it comes to holidays, we usually overlook the less-advertised dates. Throughout the midst of Valentine’s Day cards and cupids, how can we forget to observe an important month like Black History Month? For this month, possibly you could look into an influential African-American from North Carolina. Of course we all know of Michael Jordan and his very successful career. But here are five famous and very important North Carolinians:
Harriet Ann Jacobs (February 11, 1813 – March 7, 1897)
Harriet Jacobs was born a slave in Edenton, NC. She eventually escaped slavery and became an influential speaker on abolitionism. She wrote under the pen name of ‘Linda Brent,’ sharing her life story. Although she suffered and lived through a tough time, her story truly gave hope to those around her.
John Merrick (1859 – 1919)
John Merrick was born into slavery by a single mother living in Clinton, NC. Who would have guessed that Merrick would become the founder of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company? Through hard work and entrepreneurship, John Merrick founded many companies in Wake County and Durham County.
Romare Bearden (September 2, 1911 – March 12, 1988)
Romare Bearden was born in Mecklenburg County and moved to New York at a young age. Bearden pursued art after graduating from NYU in 1935 and ended up making abstract collages and art. He also coauthored several books as well as authoring his own. Bearden’s art evoked thought and inspired many to explore the world of abstract art. The New York Times praised Bearden as “one of America’s pre-eminent artists.”
John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967)
John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, NC. In 1945, while he was enlisted in the Navy, he played saxaphone for a Navy jazz band. After returning to civilian life, he continued playing jazz and pursued his interest in the genre. He is considered one of the most influential saxophonists in jazz and his music is truly iconic.
André Leon Talley (born October 16, 1949)
André Leon Talley was born in Durham, North Carolina and raised by his grandmother, who introduced him to ‘luxury.’ After graduating North Carolina Central University, he continued his education and wound up in New York City, where he was an assistant to Andy Warhol. He worked for Interview, the New York Times, and worked his way up to editor-at-large at Vogue. He is now considered ‘one of the most influential people in the fashion industry.’
Now that you are more enlightened, why not visit your library to read more about these influential people?