In honor of Black History Month, here’s a look at 14 people who broke color barriers to become the first Black Americans to achieve historic accomplishments in politics, academics, aviation, entertainment and more
Gordon Parks in Hollywood on April 4, 1968. Associated Press
Bill Paxton, the actor known for starring in films such as “Twister” and “Apollo 13,” died on Saturday due to complications from surgery, according to a family statement. He was 61.
“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” a representative for the family told NBC News. “A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker.”
Paxton first got a start in the 1970s playing minor roles, but he won over audiences in the following two decades. The journeyman actor played notable characters in “The Terminator,” “Weird Science” and “Aliens” in the 1980s, and he grew to have a larger profile in the 1990s in films such as “Tombstone,” “Apollo 13,” “Twister” and “Titanic.”
Actor Bill Paxton poses at the premiere of “She’s Funny That Way” in Los Angeles, California, Aug. 19, 2015. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
Former President Barack Obama has finally returned from his post-presidency vacation, where he got some much-deserved R&R in Palm Springs, California, and on Richard Branson’s private escape in the British Virgin Islands.
While Obama’s vacation style consisted of a backward hat and flip-flops, he looked seriously dapper in New York City on Friday in a black suit and a white collared shirt. No tie necessary.
To say that President Donald Trump has a casual relationship with the truth would be a gross understatement. He has repeatedly cited debunked conspiracy theories, pushed voter fraud myths, and embellished his record and accomplishments. The barrage of falsehoods has been so furious that journalists have taken to issuing instant fact-checks during press conferences and calling out false statements during cable news broadcasts.
All presidents lie, but lying so brazenly and so frequently about even silly factoids like his golf game has put Trump in his own category. His disregard for the truth is reflected in his top aides, who have inflated easily disproved figures like the attendance at his inauguration and even cited terror attacks that never happened.
The Huffington Post tracked the public remarks of Trump and his aides to compile a list of 100 incidents of egregious falsehoods. Still, it is likely the administration has made dozens of other misleading and exaggerated claims.
The Tulsa race riot was a large-scale, racially motivated conflict on May 31 and June 1, 1921, in which a group of white people attacked the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It resulted in the Greenwood District, also known as ‘the Black Wall Street’ and the wealthiest black community in the United States, being burned to the ground.
During the 16 hours of the assault, more than 800 people were admitted to local white hospitals with injuries (the two black hospitals were burned down), and police arrested and detained more than 6,000 black Greenwood residents at three local facilities. An estimated 10,000 blacks were left homeless, and 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire. The official count of the dead by the Oklahoma Department of Vital Statistics was 39, but other estimates of black fatalities varied from 55 to about 300.
The events of the riot were long omitted from local and state histories. “The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.” With the number of survivors declining, in 1996, the state legislature commissioned a report to establish the historical record of the events, and acknowledge the victims and damages to the black community. Released in 2001, the report included the commission’s recommendations for some compensatory actions, most of which were not implemented by the state and city governments. The state has passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, economic development of Greenwood, and a memorial park to the victims in Tulsa. The latter was dedicated in 2010.
In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.
Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.
As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.
The vaunted human capacity for reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with thinking straight.Illustration by Gérard DuBois
A car bomb in northern Syria killed as many as 60 people and wounded dozens more, Turkish state media and activist groups said Friday, even as the Turkish military said that the nearby town of al-Bab had been retaken from ISIS.
Al-Bab was ISIS’ last significant holdout between the northern countryside of Aleppo and Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital. Held by ISIS since 2013, al-Bab was recaptured after more than two months of fighting.
The attack in Sousian village, a few miles north, killed between 53 and 60 people, according to activist groups Aleppo Media Center and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.