BIO Classroom

BIO Classroom

Black History Record Breakers

Meet 40 Black History Record-Breakers.
Fact #1
  • Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record when he hit his 715th home run in 1974. He set a Major League record with 755 home runs in his career.

Fact #2

When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired from the NBA in 1989, he had scored the most points, blocked the most shots, won the most MVP titles and become the first athlete the league to play for 20 seasons.

Fact #3
  • Maya Angelou

Writer Maya Angelou was lauded in 1995 for remaining on The New York Times' paperback nonfiction best-seller list for two years—the longest-running record in the chart's history.

Fact #4

Olympic track champion Evelyn Ashford became the first woman to run 100 meters in under 11 seconds.

Fact #5

In 1992, 35-year-old athlete Evelyn Ashford became the oldest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field.

Fact #6

In 2008, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became the first man in history to set three world records in a single Olympic games.

Fact #7

Wilt Chamberlain was the first NBA player to score 100 points in a single game (1962 season) and the first to score more than 30,000 cumulative points over his career.

Fact #8

Athlete Alice Coachman leapt to a record-breaking height of 5 feet, 6 and 1/8 inches in the high jump finals at the 1948 Summer Olympics. She was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Fact #9

Jazz drummer William "Cozy" Cole broke Billboard records in 1958 when his single "Topsy" became the first drum solo to sell more than 1 million records.

Fact #10

In 2002, Maritza Correia became the first black female swimmer to break an American record. She is also the first black female swimmer to make it onto the U.S. Olympic team.

Fact #11

Comedian Bill Cosby's TV series The Cosby Show was the highest-ranking sitcom for five consecutive years. The program aired for eight years, from 1984 to 1992.

Fact #12

In 2002, Shani Davis became the first U.S. speed skater to make both the short and long track Junior World teams three years in a row.

Fact #13

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks is the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was awarded for her book of poetry, Annie Allen, which was published in 1949.

Fact #14

In 1974, University of Pennsylvania track star Denis Fikes ran a mile in 3:55, becoming the first Ivy League athlete to finish a mile in less than four minutes. It was also the fastest time by an African-American athlete and the 15th-fastest in the world.

Fact #15

Music legend Aretha Franklin is one of the most honored artists in Grammy history, with 18 wins to date.

Fact #16

Athlete Edward O. Gourdin set a new long jump record of 25 feet, 3 inches in 1921. He later became the first African-American judge to be appointed to the superior court in Massachusetts.

Fact #17

Florence "Flo Jo" Joyner, a runner known for her stylish flair on the track, set the world record for the 100-meter and 200-meter races at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Fact #18

At age 23, Great Britain's speed-car racer Lewis Hamilton became both the youngest and the first black/biracial Formula One World Champion in history.

Fact #19
  • Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston, a celebrated singer, songwriter and actress, was named the most-awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records in 2006.

Fact #20
  • Michael Jackson

Singer and dancer Michael Jackson released the best-selling album in history, Thriller, in 1982. The album has sold more than 50 million copies globally and won multiple awards.

Fact #21

Pop icon Michael Jackson earned several Guinness World Records titles, including achieving the longest span of U.S. Top 40 singles—from November 6, 1971, to January 1, 2011.

Fact #22
  • Janet Jackson

The clip for "Scream," a duet by Michael and Janet Jackson, cost $7 million to produce, making it the most expensive music video ever made.

Fact #23

Singer, songwriter and entertainer extraordinaire Michael Jackson won a total of 13 Grammys-eight of them in one night in 1984-and was the first artist to have five singles reach No. 1 from the same album (1987's Bad). He was also a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for his work with the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist.

Fact #24

During the 2008 Olympic trials, swimmer Cullen Jones broke the U.S. record in the 50-meter freestyle, finishing in 21.59 seconds.

Fact #25

Music composer and producer Quincy Jones is the most Grammy-nominated artist in history, with 79 nominations and 27 wins.

Fact #26

The Buffalo Soldiers were African-American military regiments who served the United States in various capacities during the 19th century. More than 20 Buffalo Soldiers received the highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Fact #27
  • Beyoncé

At the 2010 Grammy Awards, singer Beyoncé Knowles walked away from the ceremony with six awards-the most wins in a single night by a female artist. Her record was matched two years later by pop/soul artist Adele. As of 2013, Beyoncé has won 16 Grammys.

Fact #28

In 2011, singer Beyoncé Knowles made the Forbes Top 10 list of entertainment's highest-earning women.

Fact #29

In 2010, Beyoncé Knowles, an award-winning singer, songwriter and actress, tied the record for most No. 1 hits on Billboard's Pop Songs chart, which is based on radio airplay.

Fact #30

African-American entrepreneur Reginald F. Lewis's 1992 gift to Harvard Law School was the largest grant the school had ever received.

Fact #31
  • Jesse Owens

Track and field star Jesse Owens broke multiple world records before competing at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, where he won four gold medals.

Fact #32

Baseball star Satchel Paige was more than 40 years old the entire time he pitched for the major leagues, making him the oldest rookie in baseball history. He played into his late 50s.

Fact #33

Deval Patrick is the first African-American governor of Massachusetts and the second African American to be elected governor in U.S. history.

Fact #34

Susan Rice is the first African-American woman to be America's ambassador to the United Nations.

Fact #35

Olympian Irvin Roberson broke Jesse Owens's 25-year-old world broad jump record in 1960, leaping 25 feet and 9 1/2 inches. After breaking the record, Roberson embarked on a successful pro football career for a few years and later earned an education doctorate.

Fact #36

Frank Robinson is the only baseball player to win MVP honors in both the National and American leagues, and the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball.

Fact #37

Wilma Rudolph, a record-breaking track star, was born the 20th of 22 children and stricken with polio as a child. Overcoming polio, she went on to break world records in three Olympic track events, and became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960.

Fact #38
  • Madam C. J. Walker

Business pioneer Madam C.J. Walker donated the largest amount of money by an African American toward the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA in 1913.

Fact #39
  • Tiger Woods

From 2001 to 2012, golfer Tiger Woods was cited by Forbes as the highest-paid professional athlete.

Fact #40

Golfer Tiger Woods is the youngest person and the first African American to win the Masters Tournament, doing so by a U.S. record lead of 12 strokes in 1997.