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UPDATED: 12:15 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

The fifth day of March marks the anniversary of the Boston Massacre, which began 251 years ago as residents revolted against the British occupation. Crispus Attucks, a Black man, was the first person killed in the Boston Massacre, drawing attention to other Black Americans who have not only fought for our Independence and civil rights but have also opened doors for African Americans in military, political and other offices.

All respect due, in no particular order.

1. Crispus Attucks

Crispus Attucks was the first person shot to death by British Redcoats during the American Revolutionary War.  Attucks was killed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1770, in what is known now as the Boston Massacre. He has been immortalized as “the first to defy, the first to die,” and has regarded by historians as a true martyr for American Independence.

Boston Massacre, March 5th, 1770 Illustration

Painting of the Boston Massacre showing Crispus Attucks, one of the leaders of the demonstration and one of the five men killed by the gun fire of the British troops, as he is shot. The Boston Massacre took place in 1770 and was a preliminary riot in the War of Independence from the British. | Source: Bettmann / Getty

2. William Carney

William Carney was one of the first African American soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Carney was awarded on May 23, 1900, nearly 40 years after he served in the Civil War. Carney was a popular speaker at patriotic events and has been remembered for his role in the Battle of Fort Wagner when he saved the American flag.

Confederate troops fighting African American Union soldiers at Fort Wagner

Source: Fine Art / Getty

3. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was the first African American general in the United States Air Force and commanded the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Davis retired as a lieutenant general in 1970, then was raised to a full general in 1998 when President Bill Clinton awarded him a fourth star. Davis was a highly decorated general who was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star and numerous other awards of distinction. Molefi Kete Asante also listed Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

Lt Gen Davis Receives Third Star

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General John P McConnell (left) pins a third star on the uniform of Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. with the assistance of Davis’ wife, Agatha Scott Davis in Washington D.C. on April 3, 1965. | Source: PhotoQuest / Getty

4. Guion Bluford Jr.

Guion “Guy” Bluford, Jr. was the first African American astronaut to travel into space. Bluford made the heroic trek aboard the Challenger on Aug. 30, 1983. He has received many medals, awards, and accolades, and was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.

Guion Bluford

Guion S. Bluford Jr., a mission specialist on NASA’s STS-8 mission on the Space Shuttle Challenger, is shown using a treadmill during a medical test on a mission in 1983. | Source: Space Frontiers / Getty

5. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a patriot and a martyr who never engaged in military violence. Dr. King’s efforts led to the adoption of several federal civil rights acts and ground-breaking Supreme Court decisions. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom and will be honored with a National Memorial in Washington.


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the “March on Washington” on Aug. 28, 1963. | Source: – / Getty

6. Andrew Young

Andrew Jackson Young Jr. was a leading civil rights activist in the 1960s who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the first African American to serve as the U.S. Representative to the UN. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, France’s Légion d’honneur and The NAACP Springarn Medal.

Ambassador Young At UN Press Conference

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young speaks at a UN press conference in New York City in 1977.  | Source: Chuck Fishman / Getty

7. Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall was the first African American to serve as Supreme Court Justice. Marshall spent the earlier part of his career fighting to dismantle racial segregation, then served on the Supreme Court for 24 years, continuing the fight for racial equality.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall Smiling

Thurgood Marshall in his robe prior to being sworn in as the first Negro member of the U. S. Supreme Court, Oct. 2, 1967. | Source: Bettmann / Getty

8. Colin Powell

Colin Powell was the first African American to serve as the United States Secretary of State. During his military career, he served as National Security Advisor, as Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command, and served in the Gulf War as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell’s civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal and the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award.

Secretary of State Colin Powell

Secretary of State Colin Powell listens as President Bush speaks on trade promotion authority at the Department of State. | Source: Brooks Kraft / Getty

9. Barack Obama

Barack Obama is the first African American president of the United States of America.  n foreign policy, he gradually withdrew combat troops from Iraq, signed the New START arms control treaty with Russia and successfully found and killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In 2009, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Obama Speaks At The SelectUSA Investment Summit

President Barack Obama waves after he spoke during the SelectUSA Investment Summit on March 23, 2015, in National Harbor, Maryland. | Source: Alex Wong / Getty

10. Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams is a former Georgia State Representative whose unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign was sabotaged by Republican voter suppression and inspired her Fair Fight organization to help Americans exercise their legal voting rights. She is largely credited with flipping Georgia blue in 2020 as well as securing Democratic victories in subsequent Senate runoff elections that took power away from Republicans. Stacey Abrams is a national hero.

Georgia Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Holds Election Night Event In Atlanta

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams addresses supporters at an election watch party on Nov. 6, 2018, in Atlanta. | Source: Jessica McGowan / Getty


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