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Role Models for All in Celebration of Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month with some of the most influential African-American movers and shakers in our nation's history.

February is Black History Month and a perfect opportunity to reflect on the African-American role models who have made an impact on society throughout our nation's history. These individuals are prominent educators, determined activists, influential politicians, and pioneers. As we advocate for all kids to have an opportunity to succeed in the 21st century, the movers and shakers listed below are sure to inspire us all.

Euphemia Lofton Haynes. In 1943 Haynes graduated from the Catholic University of America with her Ph.D. in mathematics -- the first African-American woman to do so. She dedicated 47 years of her life teaching in Washington, D.C., public schools and was the first woman to chair the D.C. school board.

Charles Hamilton Houston. Widely known as the Man Who Killed Jim Crow, Houston was a lawyer and a major player in dismantling Jim Crow laws. He also was a role model for several African-American lawyers in the United States, including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Martin Luther King Jr. This well-known activist was a leader in the African-American civil rights movement. He led nonviolent protests against segregation and is famous for his "I Have a Dream" speech. He was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

Autherine Lucy. Paving the way for others in the African-American community, Lucy was the first African-American student to attend the University of Alabama in 1956, in spite of threats. In later years, the university named an endowed scholarship in her honor.

President Barack Obama. President Obama is the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to serve. Prior to taking office, he was a U.S. senator from Illinois. President Obama has fought for issues ranging from universal health care to same-sex marriage.

First Lady Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. During her time in the White House, she has led several initiatives including "Let's Move!," which addresses the challenge of childhood obesity, and "Let Girls Learn," which aims to help educate and empower women around the world.

Rosa Parks. Parks is known as the "first lady of civil rights." In December 1955 she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger and was arrested. As a result of this act of defiance, Rosa Parks became a symbol of the modern civil rights movement.

Melissa Harris Perry. Perry is the host of the Melissa Harris-Perry weekend news and opinion television show on MSNBC. In addition, she is a politics and international affairs professor at Wake Forest University and the founder of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, which focuses on gender, race, and politics in the South.

Neil deGrasse Tyson. This well-known astrophysicist and cosmologist is the fifth head of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. As a popular voice for all things astronomy, he most recently began hosting Star Talk, a talk show on the National Geographic Channel.

Booker T. Washington. A political adviser and writer, he founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama in 1881, which became a leading school in the nation. He is also well known for his famous Atlanta compromise speech.

Amy Bortnick