7 Significant Black Georgians You May Not Have Known About

Black History Month sign
February 1, 2022

February is Black History Month. Throughout the month, we're highlighting Black Georgians who may not be as well known for their contributions.

  1. Alice Coachman. Alice was born in Albany, GA in 1923 and went on to become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games.
  2. Andrew Young. While he may have been born in Louisiana, Andrew Young has lived much of his adult life in Georgia helping to lead the charge in the fight for Civil Rights. After being elected to Congress and serving for several years, he was appointed first Black ambassador to the United Nations in 1977.
  3. Georgia Douglas Johnson. When you think of well-known women writers in Georgia's history, you may first think of Alice Walker.  But before Alice, there was Georgia Douglas Johnson. In the 1920s and '30s, she was the most widely read Black woman poet in America. At that time, she was a widower, but she still put her sons through school while writing.
  4. Ronald Yancey. Ronald Yancey overcame several obstacles, both prior to and during his schooling at Georgia Tech in the 1960s to become the school's first Black graduate in 1965.
  5. James “Jack” Hadley. James "Jack" Hadley was born at Pebble Hill, a former cotton plantation near Thomasville, Georgia. He was the grandson of a slave who worked at the plantation when it was in operation. Years later while helping his son with a school project, Hadley began the work that would evolve into the Jack Hadley Black History Museum.
  6. Lucy Craft Laney. Lucy Craft Laney was born free in 1854 in Macon, 11 years before slavery was abolished after the Civil War. When she was growing up, it was illegal in Georgia for Black people to learn how to read, but she learned. In her adult years, she opened a school in Augusta after teaching in several cities across Georgia. When the school opened in 1883, she had 6 students. But by the end of the second year, the school had 234 students.
  7. Wilton Daniel Gregory. Wilton Daniel Gregory served as an archbishop in Atlanta from 2005 to 2019. In 2019, he moved to Washington D.C. to serve as Archbishop there. In 2020, he became the first Black man to be appointed to Cardinal in the Catholic Church.