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The Names We Can’t Forget: 25 Faces of Black History

While doing research with my older son’s for his Black History project, I learned that Robert F. Flemming, Jr. created the version of the guitar that we know today. When I put his name in the search engine, hardly anything is found. If you Google “Who invented the guitar” Mr. Flemming’s name doesn’t pop up at all. Names for who invented the electric guitar do but none of them are him. It’s amazing! It’s like he was completely erased. If he were not on that list for my son’s school project, I would have never known his name.

This isn’t a new issue. Tom Hanks, an Oscar Winning actor and filmmaker, shared that he “never read a page of any school history book about how, in 1921, a mob of white people burned down a place called Black Wall Street, killed as many as 300 of its Black .” It’s as if our history is being erased and forgotten.

It got me to thinking about all the names we have never heard, all the inventions we were never credited, all the stories we were never told. I love hearing what Dr. King and Rosa Parks have done for us, but what about our other history?

Here are 25 named in the history of film, television that we cannot forget. Do you know them all?

Spike Lee

Born: March 20, 1957

Atlanta, GA

Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and professor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced more than 35 films since 1983. He made his directorial debut with She's Gotta Have It.

Ryan Coogler

Born: May 23, 1986

Oakland, CA

Ryan Kyle Coogler is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His first feature film, Fruitvale Station, won the top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He has since co-written and directed the seventh film in the Rocky series, Creed (2015), and the Marvel film Black Panther (2018). Coogler has a net worth of around $10 million.

Niecy Nash

Born: February 23, 1970

Los Angeles, CA

Carol Denise Nash is an American comedian, actress, television host, model, and producer, best known for her performances on television. Nash hosted the Style Network show Clean House from 2003 to 2010, for which she won an Emmy Award in 2010. She played the role of Deputy Raineesha Williams in the Comedy Central comedy series Reno 911! (2003–2009). Nash played the role of civil rights activist Richie Jean Jackson in the historical drama film Selma directed by Ava DuVernay. In 2017, Nash was cast in a leading role in the TNT crime comedy-drama series, Claws, produced by Rashida Jones about a South Florida nail salon. Nash has an estimated net worth go $4 million.

Harry Belafonte

Born: March 1, 1927

Harlem, New York, NY

Harry Belafonte is a Jamaican-American singer, activist, and actor. One of the most successful stars in black American history, Belafonte was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Trinidadian Caribbean musical style. Harry, being a close friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, was a supporter of the 50s and 60s Civil Rights Movement. Belafonte performs as the American Civil Liberties Union ambassador for issues around juvenile justice. Harry has a net worth of at least $28 million.

Ava DuVernay

Born: August 24, 1972

Long Beach, CA

Ava Marie DuVernay is an American filmmaker. She won the directing award in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere, becoming the first black woman to win the award. DuVernay amplifies the work of people of color and women of all kinds through her non-profit film collective ARRAY, named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies. Based on the infamous case of The Central Park Five, her next project is entitled WHEN THEY SEE US and will be released worldwide on Netflix in May 2019. Ava's net worth is somewhere near $60 million.