Editor’s Note: This content was sponsored throughout a partnership with AARP Atlanta.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In honor of Black History Month, AARP Georgia is celebrating “Black Joy” by highlighting the incredible dreams and accomplishments of African Americans throughout history.

These are just some of the many individuals who have made a positive difference in our nation’s history through their perseverance, persistence, and optimism.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Honored each year on January 15, Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and trailblazer in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

Combining his Christian principles with messages of racial unity, King organized several nonviolent protests and marches around the nation—his most notable being the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Today, Americans continue to remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of peace. Most recently, Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 21, referenced Dr. King’s words of unity in her own work “The Hill We Climb.”

Gorman spoke, “We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.” She is the youngest poet to speak at an inauguration in American history.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm is best remembered for becoming the first Black congresswoman in 1968, serving New York State in the House of Representatives for seven terms.

She also ran for the 1972 Presidential Election, thus making herself the first African American major-party candidate to do so. While she did not win the presidential bid, Chisholm did fight vigorously for social justice and education reform during her time in Congress.

Chisholm’s legacy lives on through the continued achievements of African American women in politics. Most notably, Kamala Harris became the first female, African American, and Asian American vice president on Jan. 21.

Hank Aaron

AARP Georgia would especially like to remember the legacy of Hank Aaron, who passed away this past January. Known as “Hammerin’ Hank,” Aaron is best known for his incredible home-run record of 755—dethroning Babe Ruth and holding that title for 30 years. Aaron played with the Braves for 23 years.

However, while he is widely known for his grace on the ballfield, Aaron is also recognized for his humble personality.

He accepted his victories with a smile, but he was also unafraid to speak out about the racism he encountered throughout his career and beyond.

Two weeks before his death, he stood with civil rights icons at 86 years old and received the COVID-19 vaccine. Hank Aaron will forever be remembered in the Atlanta community and in the MLB for his strides both on the baseball field and off it in his fight for equality.

And we invite you to join us on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. for a free, online “couch concert” with legendary recording artist Freddie Jackson. Learn more and register at www.aarp.org/atlanta.

(Photo: Courtesy of AARP)

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