The Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier will be showcasing Black History Month on February 7 – 22 . The historic Navy Pier on the Lake Michigan waterfront in downtown Chicago will feature a free exhibition showcasing 28 notable African-Americans.. “Perseverance & Persistence – An Exhibition of Pride” is a walk through gallery highlighting 28 notable African American pioneers.
The exhibition will be celebrated with an Opening Ceremony on Thursday, February 7, 2008 at 10:00 am to 11:30 am. Former Negro League Baseball Legends, Henry “Hank” Presswood and Johnny “Lefty” Washington, will be at the Grand Opening Ceremony. Guests will have opportunities to get a singed baseball card or be photographed with these legendary baseball players. Entertainment at the Opening Ceremony will include The Najwa Dance corps, The Chicago Choir Academy and Terisa Griffin.
The gallery presentation, which lasts for two weeks, showcases 28 notable African Americans. Learn more about pioneering African Americans by attending the exhibition at Chicago’s Navy Pier. There is additional information about the event at the City of Chicago Navy Pier website. Following is a brief description of the pioneers who are showcased at the gallery event:
Thomas Jennings (1791 – 1859). Inventor who was the first African American to receive a patent. Jennings developed a process to clean clothing called “dry scouring”. Today this is known as “dry cleaning.” The patent was granted in 1821. A free tradesman, Jennings operated a dry cleaning business in New York City . He became the assistant secretary for the First Annual Convention of the People of Color in Philadelphia. Jennings spent the first money he earned on legal fees to liberate his family from slavery and to support the abolitionist cause.
Frederick Douglass (1817 – 1895). Douglass was the first African-American to receive a major U.S. Government Appointment. He served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Daniel Hale Williams (1856 – 1931). Chicago surgeon who performed the first successful open heart surgery.
Madame C.J. Walker (1867 – 1919). Successful entrepreneur who built an empire developing hair products for African-American women. This business tycoon was the first African American Woman Millionaire.
Jack Johnson (1878 – 1945). Johnson was the first African-American to win the heavyweight boxing championship of the world.
Maudelle Brown Bousfield (1885 – 1971). Bousfield was a pioneer in education, as the first African-American Principal of a Chicago Public Schools.
Vivian Harsh (1890 – 1960). Harsh worked in the Chicago Public Library, becoming African-American Librarian.
Hattie McDaniel (1895 – 1952). Actress who played Mammy in the classic Civil War movie, “Gone With the Wind.” McDaniel won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award.
Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967). Hughes was an American poet, newspaper columnist, play wight and social activist. The author is notable as the first African American author to support himself writing.
Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904 – 1950). American medial pioneer, who was a surgeon, scientist, researcher and professor. Dr. Drew was the first African American Surgeon to serve of the American Board of Surgery, as an Examiner.
Richard Wright (1908 – 1960). Distinguished author who was the first African American to appear on National Bestseller lists. Wright was a communist who became an American expatriate.
Thurgood Marshall ( 1908 – 1993). Marshall was a distinguished attorney who became the first African American Supreme Court Justice.
Gordon Parks (1912 – 2006). Entertainment pioneer who was the first African American to direct and produce a movie for a major studio.
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000). Literary giant was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry.
John H. Johnson (1918 – 2005). Publisher who was the first African-American to appear on Forbes 400 Rich List.
Nat “King” Cole (1919 – 1965). Cole was an entertainer, singer, pianist and composer who was the first African American to host a Network TV Show.
Jackie Robinson (1919 – 1972). Trailblazing baseball player who was the first African American to compete in a professional baseball team.
Constance Baker Motley (1921 – 2005). Motley was a lawyer, New York State Senator and the first African American woman to become a federal judge.
Harold Washington (1922 – 1987). Washington was a lawyer, politician and the first African American to become the Mayor of Chicago.
Sidney Poitier (1927 —). Movie actor, producer and director who was the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Actor at the Academy Awards
Althea Gibson (1927 – 2003). Sports pioneer who was the first African American woman to win a tennis championship at the tournaments in Wimbledon.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968). Civil rights leader who was the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Navy Pier is a popular Chi-Town destination featuring entertainment, carnival rides and restaurants. The Chicago landmark is an excellent place to take the family for a day of entertainment and education.
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