Do you like potato chips? Of course you do! Did you know that the potato chip was first created by George Crum, an African-American inventor and chef who got the idea from trying to teach a lesson to a dissatisfied customer who sent back a plate of French-fried potatoes. To teach the picky patron a lesson, Crum sliced the potatoes as thin as possible and fried them until crunchy, added some salt and sent them back to the diner. To his surprise the snack was a hit and the Potato Chip Was born! Goes to show what thinking on your feet can get you! Think about that next time you crunch on some tasty potato chips.
Dr. Charles Richard Drew was an American Surgeon and medical researcher. In the late 1930’s Drew invented a way to preserve blood plasma, allowing it to be stored and shipped for blood transfusions. This innovation vastly improved the efficiency of blood banks and helped American and British troops during WWII. During this time period, blood was segregated between black and white donors. Drew spoke out against this racist practice, but the army decided not to change their policy. Because of this Drew resigned and began instructing surgery as a professor at Howard University. I guess you could say he was the Original Dr. Drew!
After being kidnapped from West Africa and enslaved in Boston, Phillis Wheatley became the first African-American women to publish a book of poetry in the colonies in 1773. Her work “Poems on Various Subjects is a landmark achievement in US History. As a strong supporter of America’s fight for independence, Wheatley penned several poems in honor of the Continental Army. One of her works was sent to future president and acting commander George Washington, which inspired an invitation to visit him at his headquarters in Massachusetts.
While Jackson was not the inventor of ice cream, nor the first person to serve it in the US, he is referred to as the “Father of Ice Cream” because he pioneered the products’ modern manufacturing methods. While being a confectioner at the white house during the 1820’s, Jackson discovered techniques to control the custard while it freezes, like adding salt to the ice. While he did not patent any of his original recipes or techniques, he did develop new flavors and his own brand and distributed them to stores around Philadelphia. Making him one of the wealthiest residents in the area at the time.
Vivian Mildred Corbett Bailey is an American WWII Veteran. Bailey was one of the first African-American officers in the Women’s Army Corps and served as a commander of the Woman’s Colored Detachment. She is honored by sponsoring the Millie Bailey Fund, which benefits Running Brook Title 1 School. With a large population of minority and low-income students, Baileys dream was for true equality. She said “I would like for everybody to see what they can do to help somebody else, like when you go to buy groceries, buy some extra cans and bring it to the food bank. Yes, live everyday thinking ‘What can I do to make it a better world’” We honor this historical woman this Black History Month.
Jennifer King was the first black woman to become a full-time coach in the NFL in 2021 for the Washington Football Team, now known as the Washington Commanders. She works as the Assistant running backs coach, and in the past has also coached women’s college basketball. After graduating from college with a degree in sports management, King played in the Women’s Football Alliance as quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back and safety. During her time in the WFA she competed on multiple teams all while achieving her Master of Science degree in sports management. We recognize King as a role model for so many young black women getting into sports, and from all of us here at THE DROP Happy Black History Month!
Georgiana Rose Simpson was the first African-American woman to receive a PHD in the United States. Her academic career started when Simpson enrolled at the University of Chicago in 1907, and received a bachelor of arts degree in German in 1911. She later went on to complete her master’s degree in German in 1920. But that wasn’t enough for Simpson, at age 55 while working and teaching High School literature she completed her dissertation and received her PHD in German in 1921. Simpson and her achievements helped pave the way for young scholars later in history during the civil rights movement.
Buck O’Neil was a first baseman and manager in the Negro American League, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs. After his playing days, he worked as a professional scout and became the first African American coach in Major League Baseball by the Chicago Cubs in 1962. After his professional career, The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum honored the legacy of Buck with the creation of the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award to honor individuals whose extraordinary efforts enhanced baseball’s positive impact on society.
Jesse Russell was a Black inventor and IT entrepreneur and has over 100 patents registered. It all started in 1972 when he received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. As a top honor student in his class, Russell became the first African American to be hired directly from a historically Black College by AT&T. Although not one person is credited with the first inception of the technology, Russell was one of the key people to assist in the invention of the modern cell phone. His actions shaped the wireless communications industry through his leadership, perspective for standards, and development of new wireless service concepts.
In 2002, the Denver City Council granted Five Points a much-deserved landmark status. The Five Points area included in the Welton Street Historic District was the heart of African American commerce during the days of segregation. It was also renowned nationwide as the destination for live jazz in Denver – thanks to its more than 50 clubs and bars, it was known in some circles as the “Harlem of the West.” Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and other legends all played to packed houses here in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, live music still strives throughout the many venues located in this area.
Reeves studied music at the University of Colorado before moving to Los Angeles. Her singing career took off and she began recording as a solo artist and touring with artists like Harry Belafonte and Sergio Mendes. In 1987 she was the first vocalist signed to the revived Blue Note label. To date, Reeves has recorded 16 albums, received five Grammy nominations and won two Grammys. Although Reeves travels and performs extensively, she now resides in Denver.
Kenny Washington was an American professional football player who was the first African American to sign a contract with the NFL in 1949. Brought up in a successful sports family, Washington grew up in Los Angeles playing baseball and football all the way up to the collegiate level at UCLA. During his time there he broke rushing records and became the first All-American in the history of the school’s football program. Despite discrimination, Washington rose above the odds and was drafted to the new Los Angeles Rams team where he continued to lead the league in yards per carry in just his second season. After his playing career, Washington was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956, making his number 13 jersey the first to be retired in UCLA history. We recognize and appreciate Washington’s exceptional accomplishments this Black History Month.
Hello… Hello? Is this thing on? Well thanks to African-American Inventor James West, known worldwide as the co-inventor of the foil electret microphone. This is a type of condenser microphone, which 90% of all microphones use today. This technology is featured in telephones, sound and music recording equipment, and hearing aids. He holds 47 US Patents and over 200 foreign patents for microphones. From all us that use microphones everyday at the station, This Black History Month we thank Mr. West for his important contribution.
Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree. She was also the first African American woman to earn a doctor of Medicine degree from the New England Female Medical College. She Published a book of Medical Discourses in 1883 and the text was one of the first written by an African American concerning medicine. Her publication is currently held in the US National Library of Medicine. This Black History Month we recognize Ms. Crumpler for her innovations and dedication to the medical field.
Charlotta Amanda Spears Bass was an educator, newspaper publisher/editor, and civil rights activist. She focused on issues like housing rights, voting rights, and labor rights, as well as police brutality and harassment. Bass is believed to be the first African American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the US – The California Eagle from 1912 to 1951. In 1952, Bass became the first African American woman nominated for Vice President, as a candidate of the progressive Party. This Black History Month we recognize Mrs. Bass for her commitment and determination toward advancing civil rights for black Americans in this country.
Robert Smalls was born into slavery on a South Carolina Plantation. Smalls had become as experienced Sailor and was assigned to captain a Confederate Navy vessel. When the ship had docked in Charleston it was carrying a shipment of heavy guns. Smalls led his enslaved crew to hijack the boat and take it on a mission to rescue his family and other enslaved crew members who were in hiding. While on the mission, Smalls was forced to sail past multiple Confederate checkpoints on their way to freedom. Smalls learned the confederate hand signals required to clear the passage without trouble. After sailing to freedom, he entered politics. Smalls served in the South Carolina legislature before becoming one of the first African Americans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1874. This Black History Month we honor the bravery and courage shown by Robert Smalls to achieve freedom and a better life for himself and others.
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