As we kick off Black History Month, TV One is celebrating by honoring the past and inspiring the future! This year’s theme REPRESENT 24/7 is all about acknowledging the legacy of Black Excellence.

The celebration journeys through the evolution of Black music and grants access to the stories behind the artists on Unsung Presents: The Decades 70s/80s, and showcases classic Black cinema every Sunday. Sit back and relax as we enjoy the legendary films: Claudine, Carmen Jones, Paris Blues, Lady Sings The Blues, Devil In A Blue Dress and A Soldier’s Story.

And it doesn’t stop there! Through the lens: “How it Started vs. How it’s Going,” we shine a light on the following trailblazers during the month of February:

Dominique Dawes

How it Started

At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GADominique Dawes became the first Black female gymnast to win Olympic Gold. Her record includes a total of three medals at Olympic Games during her career. Dawes served as the co-chair of President Barack Obama’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, where she also worked closely with First Lady Michelle Obama to help promote the Let’s Move! initiative. Today, she is an entrepreneur, a brand ambassador and highly requested motivational speaker. She continues to inspire today’s generation of gymnasts at her “Dominique Dawes Gymnastics & Ninja Academy” in Clarksburg, MD.

UNIONDALE, NY – JULY 1998: Dominique Dawes of the United States competes in the Gymnastics competition of the Goodwill Games which took place from July 19 – August 2, 1998 in New York, New York. The gymnastics venue was the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

Simone Biles

How it’s Going

Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast, with more than two dozen Olympic and World Championship medals to her name. She led the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team to victory at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro and won gold in the individual all-around, vault and floor exercise. During the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, Biles quickly became a voice and advocate for millions when she withdrew from the gymnastics all-around final to prioritize her mental health. One the last year, she and several teammates took the show on the road with the GOLD OVER AMERICA TOUR.

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team takes home Bronze in the Women’s Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Maya Angelou

How it Started
Maya Angelou will always be remembered as one of the most world-renowned and beloved poets and civil rights activists of all time. Through her literature, poetry and roles as an actress, she explored themes of economic, racial and sexual oppression, as well as justice. Dr. Angelou was invited to compose and deliver “On the Pulse of Morning,” for the inauguration of U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton in 1993. Among her many honors and achievements, this made her the first Black inaugural poet.

American poet Maya Angelou reciting her poem ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in Washington DC, 20th January 1993. (Photo by Consolidated News Pictures/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Amanda Gorman

How it’s Going
As she recited her original poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden, Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Her message, which made millions stop and listen, addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, the Capitol insurrection and more. Before international fame, Amanda graduated cum laude in 2020 from Harvard University with a degree in sociology.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Sidney Poitier

How it Started

The late Sidney Poitier, a legendary and trailblazing Hollywood actor, broke the color barrier in the film industry by becoming the first Black man to win an Academy Award (Oscar) for best actor. He nabbed the honor for his performance in Lilies of the Field [1963]. Some of his other notable roles were in: A Raisin in the Sun, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, To Sir, with Love and Paris Blues. He later earned two Academy Award nominations, ten Golden Globes nominations, two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, six BAFTA nominations, eight Laurel nominations and one Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination. He died last month at the age of 94.

Bahamian American actor Sidney Poitier holding his Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for ‘Lilies Of The Field’, directed by Ralph Nelson, at the 36th Academy Awards ceremony, 13th April 1964. The ceremony was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Mahershala Ali

How it’s Going

Mahershala Ali, born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar in 2016 for his performance in Moonlight. He followed up two years later with another Oscar win for Green Book. Ali completed New York University’s graduate acting program in 2000. He converted to Islam while attending NYU. After years of performing on theater stages and on screen, he later surfaced in major films and television series.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: Actor Mahershala Ali, winner of the award for Actor in a Supporting Role for ‘Moonlight,’ poses in the press room at the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/Getty Images)

Althea Gibson

How it Started

Althea Gibson, a tennis player who dominated women’s competition in the late 1950s, was the first Black person to win a Grand Slam. Her record includes singles championship wins at the 1956 French Open, 1957-58 Wimbledon and 1957-58 U.S. Open. Gibson graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in 1953. She was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.

American tennis star Althea Gibson hits a return shot to Mlle. Monnot during her singles match at the Surrey Grass Court Championship, held at the Surbiton Racket and Fitness Club.

Serena Williams

How it’s Going

Serena Williams is recognized as the greatest tennis player of all time, winning more Grand Slam singles titles (23) than any other female or male player. Along with her sister Venus, Williams grew up in Los Angeles and learned the game of tennis from her father Richard. Many say their powerful serves, ground strokes and superb athleticism changed the sport. In January of 2020, Serena won the the ASB Classic in New Zealand. It was her first singles title since giving birth to her daughter Olympia three years prior.

US player Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against US player Alison Riske during their women’s singles quarter-final match on day eight of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 9, 2019. – RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Shirley Chisholm

How it Started

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black congresswoman, representing Brooklyn, New York. She became the first major-party Black candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency four years later. She won 152 delegates before withdrawing from the race. Earning degrees from Brooklyn College and Columbia University, Chisholm later went on be an advocate and true “shero” for many women. Today, her famous quote “if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair” remains a reminder of why diversity and representation is so important.

25th January 1972: US Representative Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn announces her entry for Democratic nomination for the presidency, at the Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. Manhattan borough president Percy Sutton applauds at right. (Photo by Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

Kamala Harris

How it’s Going

Call her Madam Vice President! Kamala Harris’ election in 2020 made her the first female, first Black and first Asian-American Vice President in U.S. History. Prior to serving alongside President Joe Biden, Harris was also elected District Attorney of San Francisco, California Attorney General and United States Senator. As a Howard University graduate and longtime member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Harris is an example for many Black girls and women that we can achieve great things despite the barriers we face. 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Kamala Harris is sworn in as U.S. Vice President as her husband Doug Emhoff stands by her side during the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Join us all month long, as we Honor the Past and Inspire the Future by looking at the icons who came before us to blaze trails, along with those who continue to make history in 2022.

Information from the Encyclopaedia Britannica was used in this story. 

Who are some of your favorite Black history movers and shakers? Let us know down below.