REPRESENT 24/7 | Celebrating Black History Month 2022
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:
At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA, Dominique Dawes became the first Black female gymnast to winOlympic 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 . 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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Join us all month long, as we Honor the Past and Inspire the Futureby 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.