Skip to comments.Black History Month: Many made history outside spotlight (Feb is Black History Month)
Posted on 02/02/2006 3:33:27 PM PST by SandRat
CAMP STANLEY, Korea (Army News Service, Feb. 2, 2006) -- We have all heard the stories of Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Booker T. Washington.
No doubt each of these people deserves a place in history. They each fought for a cause and ultimately changed the face of our nation.
But, I want to take a look at some African-Americans who dont receive headlines like those above. These people have also made an important contribution to history. Theyre just not as widely known as they should be.
Sgt. Carney earned Medal of Honor
Sgt. William H. Carney was the first African-American to receive the Medal of Honor. He was awarded it for his actions on July 18, 1863 at Fort Wagner, S.C. while he was a member of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in the Civil War.
During the battle, Carney noticed that the man carrying the American flag was wounded. So Carney bravely rescued the flag and carried it for him.
He delivered it safely to his regiment and reportedly shouted, Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.
The movie Glory depicts the struggles and hardships members of the 54th endured during the Civil War.
Although it doesnt exactly point Carney out, it depicts the battle at Fort Wagner and shows the sacrifices the men of the 54th made for freedom.
Davis pioneered path for pilots
Next is Benjamin O. Davis Jr., who was shunned at West Point for four years. Other cadets would only speak to him for official reasons. He had no roommate and ate his meals in silence. Those who caused this shunning had hoped to drive Davis from the academy, but their actions only made him more determined to succeed.
He graduated 35th out of 276 in the class of 1936. Upon graduating, he became one of only two African-American line officers in the U.S. Army at the time the other was his father, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., who was also the first African-American to attain the rank of general.
The younger Davis was one of the first five African-Americans to graduate from training at Tuskegee Institute, Ala., and become pilots in the Army Air Corps. He later commanded the 332nd Fighter Group during World War II.
While based in Italy, the group flew over 200 bomber escort missions. Through all of the missions, the 332nd never lost one bomber to enemy fire.
Williams performed open-heart surgery
Daniel Hale Williams is another African-American who made history.
On July 9, 1893, James Cornish was injured in a bar fight, stabbed in the chest with a knife.
By the time he was transported to Provident Hospital (which Williams established two years earlier) he was getting closer and closer to death, having lost a great deal of blood and having gone into shock.
Williams was faced with the choice of opening the mans chest and possibly operating internally, which was almost unheard of in that day in age.
Internal operations were unheard of because any entrance into the chest or abdomen of a patient would almost surely bring with it resulting infection and therefore death.
Williams made the decision to operate and opened the mans chest. He saw the damage to his pericardium (sac surrounding the heart) and sutured it, then applied antiseptic procedures before closing his chest.
Fifty-one days later, James Cornish walked out of Provident Hospital completely recovered and would go on to live for another 50 years.
Many more made history
These are only three of a handful of African-Americans who created history in our country. There are so many more people who completed famous firsts.
For instance, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American Miss America in 1984; Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to receive an Oscar for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind; and Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court.
Many more made contributions that have helped make our country what it is today.
(Editors Note: Spc. Chris Stephens edits the Indianhead newspaper for the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.)
During an interview with Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes" last month, Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman called Black History month "ridiculous," igniting a firestorm of debate about its observance. Freeman told a visibly shocked Wallace, "I don't want a Black History month. Black History is American History. There's no white history month."...
When Mike Wallace asked Freeman how we can get rid of racism, he replied:
"Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man. And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.
so far this black history month, we have Donovan McNabb calling his relationship with Terell Owens "black on black" crime, and the NAACP comparing the GOP to NAZI's...
I always thought that George Washington Carver never got the historical notice that he's due. And then there is the gentleman that developed the way to separate plasma from red blood cells, I can't think of his name. He died from car wreck injuries in the South because the hospitals were for whites only.