Jim Beckwourth was a stout fighter, fur trader, explorer, scout, guide, and badass in the American West. His mother, a slave, had a sexual relationship with her owner (it is unclear if he raped her), and had Jim. His father/owner, Sir Jennings Beckwith, had Jim apprentice as a blacksmith and eventually freed his children (he had multiple mixed kids) roughly four decades before the 13th Amendment. This made Jim a free man long before many of the others on this list.
As a young man, Jim became a fur trapper and mountain man for General William Ashley's Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He lived among the Native Americans for some time as well, about a decade, and married and learned their culture before returning to white settlements in America. He worked as a scout, guide, and mountain man for whoever required his services for many years, including the military. While indulging in the California Gold Rush, Jim discovered the Beckwourth Pass, which is situated between present-day Reno, Nevada, and Portola, California. This discovery helped thousands commute to California. Jim's death is a mystery, with some claiming he had ongoing health issues related to his diet, while others (such as William Byers, Jim's friend and the founder of the Rocky Mountain News) claim he was poisoned by the Native Americans he once called his family. While working with the military as a scout, Beckwourth played a role in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. This may have led to the rumors that Native Americans poisoned him in revenge.