We all know by now this is a speech and now music video featuring Barack Obama.  With the 2008 Presidential Campaign we are experiencing Black History, no matter the outcome, this will be one of those moments to add to an extensive list of achievements by African-Americans. There are so many well known names that are associated with Black History Month; however, there are quite a few African-Americans who made an impact that are not well known.  I want to share a few names with you who were saying, "YES WE CAN!" when no one could have imagined they could.

Smalls.. No, not Biggie, I'm talking about Robert Smalls, a naval hero during the American Civil War. Robert Smalls freed himself from slavery after taking command of the Planter, a confederate ship and turning it over to the Union.  This was unheard of back then, he risked his life as many others did for their freedom. Later on in life he was elected to the United States House of Representatives for South Carolina's 5th and 7th Congressional Districts. In 2004, a Logistics Support Vessel was named after him, which was a first for an African-American.

I admire and respect Harriet Tubman for her courageous efforts in organizing the Underground Railroad. There is also another Harriet that made an impact during this time. Harriet Jacobs was an abolitionists and writer from North Carolina who escaped to freedom after being sexually harassed by her owner for over a decade. After she escaped, her owner placed an infamous ad, in the newspaper for her return. However, she managed to stay hidden in the same town for over seven years before escaping for good to Philadelphia and eventually New York. While in New York she started writing short stories about her experiences as a slave that were published in the New York Tribune. She would soon after write a book titled Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Harriet would use her new found celebrity to help raise money for runaway slaves seeking freedom.

Last but not least there is the "Queen”. Many women can be referred to as a queen, not just Aretha Franklin, who everyone knows and respects as the "Queen of Soul”. I'm referring to Bessie Coleman who is often referred to as "Queen Bess”. Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to hold a pilots license and the first American woman to hold an international pilots license. She became interested in flying from hearing stories about pilots and reading aviation magazines. However, due to her race and gender she could not enroll in any aviation schools in the Unites States, so she went to France to attended aviation school and earned a pilots license. When she returned to the U.S., she started performing daredevil stunts in various air shows. Her dream was to establish a school for young black aviators; however, this dream was cut short when she was killed after being thrown from a plane at the age of 34. Bessie's dream did live on through many that came after her including the Tuskegee Airmen. 

I have been studying Bessie for awhile, I admire her courage and she inspires me to reach for great heights. About 5 years ago, my friend Joe, asked me my dream acting role as well as my supporting cast, and created the mock movie poster you see above. A movie has yet to be done about Bessie, hopefully there will be one day soon (Oprah give me a call…..).

There are so many more unnamed African Americans, who have accomplished so much; I wanted to highlight these three in honor of Black History Month.

"My race needs no special defense,
for the past history of them in this country
proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere.
All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life”-Robert Smalls