Black History LeadersJack Johnson- He was the first black Heavyweight Champion of the World (1908-1915). In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes: "For more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.
John Mercer Langston- a graduate of Oberlin College and Oberlin resident for 15 years, was a black leader of conviction and influence, a visionary reformer, and an accomplished statesman and lawyer. John Mercer Langston, a graduate of Oberlin College and Oberlin resident for 15 years, was a black leader of conviction and influence, a visionary reformer, and an accomplished statesman and lawyer. Langston was born free in 1829 in Louisa County Virginia, the youngest of four children. His father, Ralph Quarles, was a wealthy white planter and slaveholder. Langston's mother, Lucy Langston, was an emancipated slave of Indian and Black ancestry. Both parents died in 1834 after brief, unrelated illnesses. Langston was left a sizable inheritance which ensured his financial independence. William Gooch, a friend of Quarles who lived in Chillicothe, Ohio, cared for Langston and his brothers Charles and Gideon. In 1838, Gooch moved his family to Missouri, a slave state. A court ruled that Langston's inheritance would be threatened if he accompanied them. Langston moved to Cincinnati, where he became enamored with the tight-knit community of freedmen which persisted in the face of relentless bigotry. At the age of 14, Langston enrolled in the Preparatory Department at Oberlin College. While a student at Oberlin he excelled in debate. He graduated from the Collegiate Department in 1849, the fifth black man to do so. Inspired by his experiences in Cincinnati, he involved himself in the black rights movement. In 1848, at the invitation of Frederick Douglas, Langston delivered an impromptu speech to the National Black Convention in Cleveland, condemning those who refused to help fugitive slaves.
Sarah Vaughan- Sarah Lois Vaughan (nicknamed "Sassy" and "The Divine One") (March 27, 1924 April 3, 1990) was an American jazz singer, described by Scott Yanow as having "one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century".She had a contralto vocal range. Sarah Vaughan was a three time Grammy Award winner. The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 1989.