Feature Pioneering African-Americans

Learn more about important African-American figures in history.

Pioneering African-Americans

More from Tukufu about famous African-Americans.

The famous singer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield was born a slave in Mississippi in 1817.

Known as the "Black Swan," the culmination of her career was a performance in 1854 at Buckingham Palace, England, in front of Queen Victoria.

John Mercer Langston was born free in 1829.

He was the first African-American elected to public office and was twice suggested as a candidate for the Vice Presidency.

Henry McNeil Turner learned to read and write at a time when it was against the law to teach a slave the alphabet.

And in 1872, he was one of the first African-Americans to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a pioneering journalist who set the tone for the anti-lynching movement with her newspaper articles and pamphlets.

She became one of the most influential journalists, reformers and women's rights advocates in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Her dedication to equality for all was sparked by being thrown off the ladies' coach on a train headed for Memphis in 1884.

Image Source: Ida B. Wells, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly right, (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)