February is known as "Black History" Month, amongst other events this month. We'll take a look at some great accomplishments that people of color have done. In honor of Black History Month, I'll highlight some of the great, and maybe not-so-well-known blacks that have done great exploits throughout history. Here are my top 5 people that I would like to highlight on the Top 5 at 7:45 today.

  1. Matthew Henson - Explorer extraordinaire. He was the first black explorer who escorted and helped Robert Peary make it to the North Pole. Hanson had honed on navigation, craftsmanship, sledding, language and know-how. Without Hanson, Peary may have not been the first to make it to the North Pole.
  2. Bessie Coleman - The great aviator. She was the first black woman to get her pilots license, fly a plane and the first to get an international pilots license. In Europe, she took her flying skills to the next level when she learned acrobatic flying. She bought her own plane, a World War I surplus Army training plan and started a school for blacks to become aviators. While preparing for her next stunt on April 30, 1926, with her mechanic flying the plan, a wrench got stuck in the open gear box, sending the unsecured aviator out of the plan 1000 feet below, where she died at the age of 24.
  3. Booker T Washington - He was an educator and a racial leader of the late 19th Century. He pioneered the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama back in 1881. He also started the National Negro Business League (NNBL) to help promote black-owned businesses. He has been quoted as saying, "No race can prosper will it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
  4. Charles Henry Turner - The great educator, scientist and zoologist. Born in 1867 who was the first black to receive a PhD in zoology from the University of Chicago. He was the first zoologist to figure out that insects can hear and alter behavior based on past experiences.
  5. Richard Spikes - The Inventor. You may not know it, but this black American invented much of what we use today. Everything from the automatic gear shifter (1932), to the multiple barrel machine gun (1940) to the automatic car washer (1913). He received over $100,000 dollars for his innovative inventions of transmission and gear shifting devices and Milwaukee Brewing Company purchased his beer keg tap. The first directional signals, which were invented by Spikes, were first introduced in the Pierce Arrow and became a standard part in all automobiles following.

The Top 5 at 7:45 airs weekdays with me, Gary Freeman and sponsored by First Education Federal Credit Union.

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