10 Black Heroes Who Usually Go Unrecognized During Black History Month, But Shouldn’t

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Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba (March 4, 1932 –  Nov.  9, 2008)

Miriam Makeba or “Mama Africa,” was a South African singer and civil rights activist, known for denouncing apartheid on the world stage and campaigning abroad for the end of the oppressive policy.

As a result of her activism, her South African passport was revoked in 1960 by the apartheid regime, and they banned her from returning to her country in 1963. However, the world came to Makeba’s aid and Guinea, Belgium and Ghana issued her international passports. She received passports from six other countries in her lifetime, and was granted honorary citizenship in 10 countries.

Despite the success that made her a star, she refused to wear makeup or curl her hair for performances, proudly wearing what came to be known internationally as the “Afro-look.”

Her fourth marriage to civil rights activist, Black Panther, and Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael in 1968 caused controversy in the United States, and her record deals and tours were canceled. The couple then moved to Guinea, and as the apartheid system crumbled, she returned to South Africa for the first time in 1990.

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