February 14, 2023
 min read

Black History Month

Black History Month is held every February in the USA and Canada, where the history and accomplishments of African Americans/Canadians are recognized and celebrated.

Black History Month is held every February in the USA and Canada, where the history and accomplishments of African Americans/Canadians are recognized and celebrated. Black History Month was founded by Carter G. Woodson, a historian and educator, in 1926. The first celebration of Black History Month took place in February of that year and has since become a widely recognized and celebrated event.

Award Pool fosters an inclusive and diverse work environment and team. We are proud to work with many Black-Owned businesses and organisations such as The June Nineteenth Museum  and The New Freedom Theatre  who are both working to help document African-American history and celebrate global diversity and inclusion through stories of historical significance.

To commemorate Black History Month, we have chosen to offer Black-Owned Small Businesses a chance to help grow, engage and reward their communities. Each verified Black-Owned Small Business that completes the submission form in our Black History Month Challenge during February 2023 will receive three months of free access to Award Pool SaaS. Additionally, you can help support Black-Owned Small Businesses and this initiative by purchasing a $5 NFT in the Award Pool Marketplace.

We asked everyone on our team to pick a Black American or Canadian whom they admire and wish to recognize. The answers span from doctors to scientists to religious and political figures, writers, musicians, athletes, activists, and Veterans. In no particular order…

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD (1831 — 1895)

An African American physician and the first African American woman to receive a medical degree (M.D.) in the United States. She was one of the first African American women to enter the field of medicine and worked as a nurse for many years before obtaining her degree and later working as a physician in Boston. Crumpler not only managed to complete her M.D. during a time when it was difficult for women to study medicine, but she also overcame racial barriers in the pursuit of her career.

"Selfish prudence is too often allowed to come between duty and human life." - Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD

James H. Harvey III (1923-)

A retired United States Air Force (USAF) officer and a former fighter pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group's 99th Fighter Squadron, also known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African American pilots who served with distinction during World War II. Harvey was known for his pilot skill and bravery in combat. After the war, Harvey continued his military service and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from the USAF. He's remembered as a trailblazer and a hero, and his legacy inspires future generations of military pilots, servicemen, and women.

"I ran 126 missions in a couple of months. Yes, I lived in that airplane!" -James H. Harvey III

Bilal Ibn Rabah Al-Habashi (572- 640)

Bilal was an Ethiopian-born companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and one of the early converts to Islam. Bilal was born into slavery but was freed and converted to Islam after meeting the prophet Muhammad in Mecca. Bilal is considered one of the first muezzins (callers to prayer in Islam), and is remembered for his powerful and beautiful voice. He was an important figure in early Islamic history and is remembered as a symbol of courage and faith.

Harriet Tubman (1822-1913)

An African American abolitionist, humanitarian, and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, she escaped to freedom in the North in the 1850s. She became a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African Americans to escape to freedom. Tubman is estimated to have made 13 missions to rescue around 70 enslaved people, including family and friends, using the Underground Railroad.

During the Civil War, she worked as a nurse, cook, and spy for the Union army and was also active in the women's suffrage movement. She is one of the most influential figures in African American history and is celebrated for her courage, determination, and unwavering commitment to freedom and justice.

"I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other." -Harriet Tubman

Prince (1958-2016)

Also known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, was a musician and performer who used his popularity to bring attention to social and political issues. He seized every opportunity to help others where his status, platform, and music allowed him to. On stage, accepting a Grammy, he brought attention to the value of education and black lives. He was a vocal supporter of education and worked to raise money and awareness for programs that supported education for all students, regardless of race.

"The system is broken. It's going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas, new life..." -Prince

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

A professional boxer and one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport. Throughout his career, Ali was known for his flashy, entertaining style, quick wit, and powerful punches. He won the heavyweight championship three times!

In addition to his athletic achievements, Ali was known for his political activism and resistance to the Vietnam War. After retiring from boxing, Ali remained an important public figure and was known for his sportsmanship, courage, and humanitarian work.

"Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even." -Muhammad Ali

George Washington Carver (1864–1943)

An African American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. Born into slavery, Carver became one of his time's most prominent agricultural researchers.  He was also a strong advocate for education and worked to improve educational opportunities for African Americans.

In 1896, he became the first African American faculty member at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama, where he served as a professor of agriculture and director of the school's agricultural research program.

"Education is the key to unlocking the golden door of freedom." -George Washington Carver

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)

A civil rights lawyer who used the courts to fight Jim Crow and dismantle segregation in the U.S. Marshall. He was a prominent figure who became the nation's first Black United States Supreme Court Justice. Marshall is best known for his work as the lead counsel for the NAACP in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 in which the court declared that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.  Thurgood Marshall was a trailblazer and champion of civil rights, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of activists and advocates for justice.

“Classifications and distinctions based on race or colour have no moral or legal validity in our society. They are contrary to our constitution and laws.” -Thurgood Marshall

Viola Desmond (1914-1965)

A Canadian civil rights activist and businesswoman who challenged racial segregation in the 1940s. She is best known for her refusal to leave a whites-only section of a movie theatre, an act of civil disobedience that led to her arrest and helped to spark the modern civil rights movement in Canada.

Her act of defiance helped to bring national attention to the issue of racial segregation in Canada and inspired future generations of civil rights activists. In 2018 she was chosen to be on the Canadian $10 bill, making her the first Canadian woman to be featured on a regularly circulating Canadian banknote.

"Do your little bit of good where you are. It's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." -Viola Desmond

Mansa Musa (Ruled 1312-1337)

The king of the Mali Empire. The ancient kingdom of Mali spread across parts of modern-day Mali, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso. Mansa Musa developed cities like Timbuktu and Gao into important cultural centres. He turned the kingdom of Mali into a sophisticated centre of learning in the Islamic world.

In 1324, Mansa Musa embarked on a pilgrimage to Mecca, during his trip, he is said to have donated gold along the way showing his wealth and generosity. Upon his return to Mali, Mansa Musa continued to expand and strengthen the empire, building new mosques and promoting education and the arts. Mansa Musa's reign marked a period of prosperity and cultural flourishing in the Mali Empire, and he is remembered as one of its greatest rulers.

Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

An American composer, pianist, and bandleader considered one of the greatest jazz composers of all time. Ellington's band, known as the Duke Ellington Orchestra, became one of the era's most popular and influential jazz ensembles. He is known for his innovative style of composition, which combined elements of blues, gospel, classical music, and traditional jazz to create a unique and sophisticated sound.

Ellington was awarded numerous honours and awards during his lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Kennedy Center Honors. He is one of the most influential figures in the history of American music and a symbol of the creativity and spirit of the Harlem Renaissance.

“There are two kinds of worries - those you can do something about and those you can't. Don't spend any time on the latter.” -Duke Ellington

Dorothy Height (1912-2010)

an African American civil rights and women's rights activist who spent more than 80 years fighting for equal rights and opportunities for African Americans and women. She was a leader in several key organizations, including the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was a close ally of many of the most prominent civil rights movement leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Height fought tirelessly to improve the lives of African Americans and women and to advance the causes of civil rights and equality. She received numerous honours and awards for her work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

"We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system. But also for and with those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity." -Dorothy Height

Colin Kapernick (1987-)

An American civil rights activist and an American football quarterback. He played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. In 2016, he knelt during the national anthem at the start of NFL games in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. This act sparked a nationwide movement, and Kaepernick became a symbol of the larger fight for racial equality.

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” -Colin Kapernick

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

A Baptist minister and activist. He remains one of the key symbols of hope and inspiration for people around the world fighting for justice, equality and human rights.

King was a key figure in the American Civil Rights Movement and one of the greatest speakers in American history. He advocated for nonviolent resistance to end segregation and discrimination against African Americans in the United States. His "I Have a Dream" speech, in which he spoke about his vision for a future where all people are judged by their character and not their skin colour remains one of the most famous speeches of all time.

King's efforts and leadership inspired civil rights activists and played a crucial role in ending the legal segregation of African Americans. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his nonviolent struggle against racial inequality.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Author, poet, dancer, actress, and singer known for her inspiring works exploring the experiences of African Americans, including "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." In this book and others, Angelou wrote about her childhood, growing up in the Jim Crow South, and her experiences as an African American woman in the 20th century.

Angelou was also a successful actress, director, and performer, and she spoke all over the world. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." -Maya Angelou

Barack Obama (1961- )

The 44th President of the United States, the first African American to hold the office and a symbol of hope and progress for people of colour worldwide. After leaving office, Obama continued to be active in public life, writing several books and giving speeches on a range of issues, including race, democracy, and the future of the country. He remains one of the most popular and influential figures in the Democratic Party.

"We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defence." -Barack Obama

Jesse Owens (1913-1980)

An American track and field athlete. In 1936, he was selected to represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Despite the Nazi regime's efforts to use the Olympics as propaganda to showcase the supposed superiority of the "Aryan race," Owens won four gold medals and became an international sensation. His victories challenged Hitler's ideas of racial superiority and helped demonstrate African American athletes' strength and potential.

"The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us - that's where it's at." -Jesse Owens

Mark Dean (1957 - )

An African American computer scientist and inventor who helped shape the personal computer industry. He was one of the first Black engineers to hold an executive position at IBM and is best known for his work as the chief architect of the IBM personal computer, the IBM PC, and for co-inventing the ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) bus, which serves as the standard interface between the computer and its peripherals. If you have used a computer and connected anything to it - you can thank Mark Dean.

As an influential figure in the tech industry, Mark Dean has served as a role model and inspiration for many African Americans who aspire to work in technology. His contributions have helped to break down barriers and increase diversity in the field, making it more accessible for people from all backgrounds.

"A lot of kids growing up today aren’t told that you can be whatever you want to be. There may be obstacles, but there are no limits." -Mark Dean

As CMO, Brenda wants to offer the platform to everyone, everywhere, to engage fans and grow their business.

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