23 Black History Heroes You May Never Have Heard Of

These are life stories worth knowing.

photo of Alice coachman at medal ceremony olympics 1948
(Image credit: Getty Images)

During Black History Month, and every other month, we must take the time to honor the role and achievements of African-American heroes in United States history. We all know about groundbreaking activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman from our history books, but there are many more unsung heroes worth celebrating—particularly Black women. These icons, many of which were overlooked at the time and continue to be sidelined today, transformed our country. Here, we rounded up just some of the African-American women whose tireless efforts changed everything, and who never got the credit they deserve.

If you're looking for more resources to further educate yourself this month and beyond, we've gathered a list of must-reads. We've got movie lovers covered, too, with the best Black history movies and documentaries


Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. In addition to spearheading commerce content across brands—from writing about wardrobe must-haves and sales at major retailers to strategizing—she is also an avid reader with a deep love and knowledge for books of all genres. More often than not, you can find her lounging with a good book on the weekend.

With contributions from