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11 Facts Your History Teacher Forgot To Mention

Bet you didn't learn this in school.

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1. Nichelle Nichols had the first interracial kiss on an American TV series.

Paramount Televsion

Nichelle played Lieutenant Uhura on the hit television series Star Trek.

She was the first African-American woman to play a lead role on a mainstream TV show who was not a stereotypical character. She almost left the series after the first year; however Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her not to quit.

2. Rosa Parks was the first woman laid to rest at the State Capitol.

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Rosa Parks, a civil rights pioneer and activist, died at 92 years old. Her body was flown to the Capitol Rotunda in D.C. to lie in honor, which is normally reserved for military leaders and politicians.

3. President Barack Obama is a two-time Grammy Winner.

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Yup, that's right: He leads our country and he's a Grammy winner. In 2006 he won best spoken word album, Dreams from My Father. In 2008 he won best spoken word album for The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.


4. Nat “The Bush Doctor" Mathis was an inventor and Afro stylist pioneer.

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During the '70s African-Americans started rockin' their natural locs. However, most salons and barbers didn't know how to style this look. Sound familiar? Nat was known in the D.C. streets as the Bush Doctor since he focused on how to treat the hair, not just cut it. Nat opened the city's first unisex salon when he was 23 years old. He also patented the "barbering vest."

5. Zelda Wynn Valdes created the first Playboy bunny costume.

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Zelda was a well-known fashion and costume designer who knew how to accentuate a woman's curves. During the 1940s and '50s her sexy designs were worn by famous African-American celebrities like Dorothy Dandridge and Joyce Bryant, which eventually captured Hugh Hefner's attention.

6. Ethel Waters was the first African-American woman to star in her own TV show.

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Ethel was a blues and jazz singer, and in 1939 The Ethel Waters Show debuted on NBC. It was a one-night only variety showcase.

7. Martin Luther King Jr. was stabbed 10 years before his assassination.

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At a book signing in Harlem a woman named Izola Ware Curry stabbed Martin Luther King Jr. in the chest with a letter opener. It took hours to remove the letter opener — King later said if he had sneezed during the procedure, he would've died. Ten years later, before he died, King spoke about the incident during his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech


8. Jerry Lawson helped create the first video game console.

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Jerry was an engineer who peaked during the video game era in the '70s. He helped design the Fairchild Channel F, which allowed gamers to play interchangeable video games. This was eventually followed by other console gaming systems like Atari, Nintendo, Xbox, and Playstation.

10. Langston Hughes almost missed the Harlem Renaissance.

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Langston Hughes started writing in his teens but was often discouraged. Langston's father did not approve of him being a writer and refused to pay for his college unless he studied engineering. Luckily Langston believed in his talent, becoming one of the greatest poets and contributors to the Harlem Renaissance.

11. Ja’Net DuBois co-wrote and sang the theme song for the TV show The Jeffersons.

Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images

You're probably more familiar with Ja'net as the sassy neighbor Willona Woods on the sitcom Good Times. Ja'net is a diverse artist who started on Broadway performing with artists like Sammy Davis Jr. So next time you hear or have the urge sing "Movin' On Up" just know it was her soulful voice!