The story behind Black History Month

African-American Hoosiers

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson created Black History month in the U.S.  He decided to make the second week of February known as “Negro History Week” because it synchronized with the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

This month was established to remember the important people and events that came from the African Diaspora. The African Diaspora consists of the remembrance of people from Africa migrating into the Americas, Europe, Asia, Middle East and everywhere else around the world. It is celebrated every year in America and Canada during February and in the U.K in October.

Here is a look at five African American Hoosiers that we should be proud of or thankful for as well.

Madame Walker was ahead of her time.

She was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 and lived until May 25, 1919. Known as Madam C. J. Walker, she was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist and is regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in America.

Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for black women. During her time, she experienced various hair problems, most of it being hair loss. She became a hair commission to better her intelligence on hair and hair products and then started the very first meeting of American woman united to talk about business and marketing. Not to mention that her hair products worked really well back in that era and she also participated in many political matters. She’s most or part of the reason we have shampoo and hair products today.

The Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue is named after her because of her support of the arts.

Oscar Robertson is known by the older generation as one of the greatest basketball players the state has ever produced. A standout basketball player at Crispus Attucks High School in the 1950s, Robertson went on to star at the University of Cincinnati before being drafted into the 1960 NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals.

When he was a child, he was too poor to afford a basketball but the Royalties gave him a $33,000 signing bonus years later. One of his many achievements was to average a triple-double for an entire NBA season. Robertson won the NBA MVP award and became one of three people to win it from 1960 to 1968. He won his second NBA MVP award the next year in an East victory.

Robertson continues to support basketball in the Midwest and makes frequent guest appearances at basketball functions throughout the state.

Hallie Bryant went to Crispus Attucks high school in 1951 and graduated from Indiana University in 1957. He led his high school team to the Final Four in 1951 and two 2 years later was crowned Mr. Basketball. Similar to Oscar Robertson, he too had many various achievements but what’s even more interesting is that he traveled around the world three times, appearing in 82 nations.

Bryant made most of his fame as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, who he traveled the world with. He also has been involved in several charities in Indiana and is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Michael Jackson is known as “The King of Pop.” He was born in Gary, IN in 1958 and was a talented individual who inspired pop culture for nearly four decades. He invented various dance techniques such as the “Robot” and the “Moonwalk.” He supported 39 charities, which is more than any other entertainer. Overall, his music was sold all over the world and he became really popular. The fact that he’s a Hoosier is pretty amazing.

Mike Epps is a standup comedian. He was born in 1970 in Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana and attended North Central High School.  As a young kid his character was already starting to blossom. He started performing stand-up when he was just a teenager. He then moved to Atlanta to work at the Comedy Act Theatre. Ever since then, he’s been featured in rap songs or voicing characters on movies, such as Boog from “Open Season 2”. He even starred in the commercial for the Indianapolis 2012 Super Bowl.  That is pretty amazing.

We should be proud of our African-American Hoosiers. These are just five of the many who have made an impact from Indiana.