1858 – She refused to give up her seat or ride in the “colored” section of a segregated trolley car in Philadelphia (100 years before Rosa Parks) and wrote one her most famous poems, “Bury Me In A Free Land,” when she got very sick while on a lecturing tour. Her short story “The Two Offers” became the first short story to be published by an African American.
Jazz vocalist Billie Holiday was born April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer for many years before she lost her battle with substance abuse. Her autobiography was made into the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues. In 2000, Billie Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Marian Anderson Born February 27, 1897, in Philadelphia, displayed vocal talent as a child, but her family could not afford to pay for formal training. Members of her church congregation raised funds for her to attend a music school for a year, and in 1955 she became the first African American singer to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
An Indian woman, a Japanese woman, and a Syrian woman, all training to be doctors at Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia, 1880s. (Image courtesy Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine Archives, Philadelphia, PA.