This page serves as a starting point to learn more about Black leaders and innovators.

The Center for Student Engagement shares these stories as a way to inspire your curiosity and encourage you to explore more about the contributions of these leaders.

Click here to visit the Black History Month Event Calendar, created by the Lewis and Gaines Center for Inclusion and Equity (LGCIE).


Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

As a Baptist minister and social rights activist in the 1950s and ‘60s, Martin Luther King (January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968) organized anumber of peaceful protests as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including the March on Washington in 1963.

Edmonia Lewis

“Some praise me because I am a colored girl, and I don't want that kind of praise. I had rather you would point out my defects, for that will teach me something.”

Being of the African American and Native American (Mississauga) descent, Edmonia Lewis (July 4, 1844 - Sept. 17, 1907) was the first BIPOC sculptor in the United States to achieve international acclaim.

Ronal McNair

“Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them  and how badly you want them.”

Ronald Erwin McNair (October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) was America's second black astronaut and one of seven crew members killed in the space shuttle Challenger explosion in Jan 28, 1986.

Dorothy Height

“I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom. I want to be remembered as the one who tried."

As a was a widely respected leader, Dorothy Height (March 24, 1912 - April 20, 2010), was an American civil right and women’s rights activist that focused on improving the circumstances for African American women.