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Did you know that bid whist is an African game? Or that MLK wasn’t responsible for the March on Washington? Read on for more black history facts we bet you didn’t know.

There’s A Reason Why Your Grandmother Plays Bid Whist

African-Americans brought the Turkish game with them during the Middle Passage. Slave owners tried to stamp out many of the games, songs and instruments slaves brought with them from Africa.

But they allowed slaves to keep playing the card game because they thought the counting skills would help the slaves count the cotton bales they produced.

The Turkish card game grew with the African-American population and evolved into the modern card games Bid Whist, Spades and Bridge.

Bumping And Grinding Has A Surprisingly Long History

Whether you’re slow winding in the West Indies or bumping and grinding in the US, the moves are straight out of Africa. It was first recorded on this side of the Atlantic in plantation Juke Joints (from the Gullah word “jook”) and called The Slow Drag. The Slow Drag was so popular that it was the first African-American dance to appear on Broadway in the 1929 play Harlem.

Tulsa, OK Was Once The Richest City African-American City In The US

Until white people burned it to the ground in 1921. Enraged by the financial success of the African-American section of town dubbed “Black Wall Street”, Tulsa dropped fire bombs with bi-planes and then attacked the city on foot, massacring its residents and chasing down refugees.

They burned hundreds of homes, businesses, hospitals and churches. Those not killed fled as refugees or were arrested. Postcards of the event were a popular keepsakes to commemorate “running the negro out of Tulsa.” The government didn’t acknowledge the massacre until 1996. “Black Wall Street” never recovered.

Madame C.J. Walker Was The First Self-Made Millionaire

And she saved African-American hair. In those days, harsh lye soaps and a lack of access to acceptable hair care products resulted in African-American women periodically losing a lot of their hair.

Madame not only invented a hair-saving hair product line in 1905, she saved millions of heads of hair by traveling the country and lecturing about proper hair care. Then she founded Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories which developed and manufactured hair care products (like the flat iron, hair dye and many of the products we use today) and trained beauticians.

Nat King Cole Was The First African-American To Reach #1 On The Billboard Charts

He was also the first black man to host his own television show: The Nat King Cole Show which first aired in 1956.

Josephine Baker Should Have Been In Inglorious Basterds

During World War II, she smuggled secret information for the French Resistance in her sheet music. We think that would have made for a much more colorful (pun only partially intended) option than Bridget von Hammersmark. But maybe Tarantino was busy saving all of his black roles for Django.

There’s A Reason Black History Month Is In February

And it’s not because it’s the shortest month. It was chosen because it’s the birth month of abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14) and President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12).

Strange Fruit Was Written By A Jewish Man

Billie Holiday may have made Strange Fruit famous, but the anti-lynching protest song was actually written by political Abel Meerpool, a political activist and schoolteacher from the Bronx.

Martin Luther King Didn’t Design The March On Washington

That was Bayard Rustin. He was the main organizer and architect of the Civil Rights movement. And without him, there would be no Martin Luther King.

Why isn’t he more famous? Because America’s greatest civil rights leader was openly gay.

Eartha Kitt Was The Beyonce Of Her Time

Earth Kitt was one of the first mega-stars of her day (of any race). Eartha Kitt used her fame to become an activist. She fought for the rights of African-Americans and stood publicly against the war in Vietnam — a position that got her blacklisted and forced her to perform overseas for several years.

The Banjo Is An African Instrument

Bid Whist wasn’t the only entertainment that survived slavery. This country music staple is actually an African instrument and up until he 1880s it was considered an instrument only played by black people.

BET Gave The World The First African-American Billionaire

It’s Robert L. Johnson, the TV station’s founder.

Aretha Franklin Was The First Woman Inducted Into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Not just the first African-American woman, but the first woman of any race.

Hattie McDaniel Was The First African American To Win An Oscar

She won the Oscar in 1952 for her role in Gone With The Wind. But she wasn’t allowed to attend the national premier of the movie because she was black.

Assata Shakur Is Not Tupac’s Mother

She is his godmother. She also fought for African-American rights with the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panther Party. When she was falsely arrested for fabricated felony chages, she escaped to Cuba where she still lives unde political assylum.

Tupac’s mother’s name is Afeni Shakur and she’s an activist in her own right.

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