Jazz drummer and band leader Art Blakey was born on this date, October 11, 1919. 

In celebration, watch Art Blakey & the Messengers in their performance of “It’s You or No One” from 1958. 

On this day last year Trayvon Martin turned 17. Only God knew his fate. The rest of the world would soon know his name; Unfournately in saddening circumstances. My brothers are #TrayvonMartin. My cousins are #TrayvonMartin. My boyfriend is #TrayvonMartin. Happy 18th birthday Trayvon! May God rest your beautiful soul 👼🙏💙.

Mae C. Jemison, the first African American female in space, was born on this date, October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. She became the first African-American woman to be in the astronaut training program in 1987. On mission STS47, she flew into space with six other astronauts on the Endeavour. She was in space for eight days conducting experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness. Jemison has won many awards and doctorates. Some of the awards include the NASA Space Flight Medal, Essence Science and Technology Award, and the Ebony Black Achievement Award. She was also inducted in the International Space Hall of Fame. 

James Benton Parsons, the first African American to serve as a United States federal judge, was born on this day, August 13, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. Before he was a Judge, Parsons was a musician and a teacher. He taught public school and was a supervisor for two years in Greensboro, N.C. He then taught constitutional law at John Marshall Law School in Chicago and political science and music at Lincoln University. Parsons was the first African American to be a part of the U.S. District Court with life tenure appointed by President Kennedy in 1961. He was known to be an outspoken and controversial jurist and received a lot of criticism for his words and actions, as well as awards throughout his life as a judge. He served as chief judge from 1975 until 1981 and then had senior status in 1981 until his death in 1993, Chicago. 

On this date, September 18, 1980, Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez became the first Cuban citizen, first Latin American and first person of African ancestry to travel in space.

Tamayo Méndez was born in Guantánamo, Cuba on January 29, 1942. He graduated from the Air Force Academy and then became a pilot in the Cuban air force. He then became a lieutenant colonel and was chosen to be a part of the Soviet Union’s Intercosmos program. Tamayo Méndez went into space as a crew member of Soyuz 38. In space, Tamayo Méndez and fellow cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko conducted many experiments. Some of their experiments included trying to find the cause for space adaptation syndrome and research on the crystallization of sucrose in microgravity with Cuban sugar. When Tamayo Méndez returned, he was presented with several awards such as the Hero of the Republic of Cuba medal.

On this day, August 24, 1950, Edith Sampson, pictured on the right with Eleanor Roosevelt on the left, was named the first black delegate to the United Nations. Sampson held this position for three years. Sampson’s first degree was in social work and then she went to John Marshall for Law School, graduating with a dean’s commendation. She received her master of law degree from Loyola University and became one of the first African American women to join the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Women Lawyers and to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Sampson later became a judge elected to a Municipal Court.