In February 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor became the first African-American to serve as a flight attendant in the United States. Her duties involved taking charge of passenger safety and comfort on a Mohawk Airlines flight from Tompkins County Airport in Ithaca, New York, to New York City. Taylor graduated as a registered nurse from the... Continue Reading →

In 1975, William Thaddeus Coleman Jr. was appointed by President Gerald Ford to serve as the fourth U.S. secretary of transportation. He was the first African-American to serve in that role and second only to Robert C. Weaver, who was secretary of housing and urban development under President Lyndon B. Johnson, as the first African-American... Continue Reading →

During the course of her extensive and eventful military career, U.S. Navy Admiral Michelle Janine Howard achieved several noteworthy “firsts” in such areas as maritime transportation. Howard, who was born into a military family at the March Air Reserve Base in southern California, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. Her class was among... Continue Reading →

In September 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to fly into outer space when she went into orbit on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison was born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama, moving to Chicago with her family when she was only three years old. She earned a bachelor of science in... Continue Reading →

Leonard A. Grimes (1815-1873) was an African-American abolitionist who, as a conductor for the Underground Railroad, used his transportation enterprise in the Washington, D.C., area to deliver others from slavery to freedom. Grimes grew up free in Leesburg, Virginia, but he still managed to witness the misery of slavery in his native South. He resolved... Continue Reading →

SS Booker T. Washington, which had been built by California Shipbuilding Corporation, was launched at the company’s yards in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Wilmington in September 1942. The ship though it was only one of more than 2,700 standardized, mass-produced Liberty ships built in the United States during World War II to serve as cargo... Continue Reading →

Alvin Drew, an African-American NASA astronaut, became the 200th person to walk in space. He conducted this spacewalk as a member of the six-person crew on STS-133, the 39th and final mission of Space Shuttle Discovery. Drew’s milestone excursion outside a spacecraft in orbit took place just a little over 16 years after fellow astronaut... Continue Reading →

Marshall W. "Major" Taylor (1878-1932), the first African-American to become a world-champion cyclist, departed the Australian city of Melbourne via train during the course of his second racing tour in the Land Down Under. (His first tour in Australia took place the previous year.) The Indiana-born Taylor had launched his professional cycling career at New York... Continue Reading →

Robert Smalls, whose courage and sailing expertise gained freedom for himself and other slaves during the Civil War, died at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, at the age of 75. Smalls had been born into slavery in that city in 1839. When he was 12, his master sent him to Charleston to work there as... Continue Reading →

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