In honor of Black History Month we want to celebrate some of the amazing Black Animal Activists that have fought for animal rights, helped advocate for animals, and helped improve their lives throughout history and today!
1.Frederick Douglass Patterson
Born in 1901, Patterson was a prominent American educator and Black Leader. He received multiple college degrees including a doctorate in veterinary medicine, was head of the Veterinary division at Tuskegee, and later became the president of the University.
At one time Tuskegee’s veterinarian medicine program was the only opportunity for African American students to become veterinarians in that region of the country.
He additionally founded the United Negro College Fund and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987, shortly before his death.
2. Booker T. Washington
Washington was born into slavery in 1856. He was an educator, author, orator, and advisor to multiple US Presidents. In addition to the many incredible accomplishments he achieved through his life he also fought for conservation and animal welfare.
At Hampton University, Washington formed a local chapter of the Bands of Mercy and fought to end over-hunting of wild animals, protection of wild animals’ habitats, and the end of abuse of livestock and pets.
Today, Chattanooga’s Booker T. Washington State Park is named after him.
3. Dick Gregory
Dick Gregory was a Comedian, Civil Rights Leader, Animal activist, and much more. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement and was the first Black comedian to perform regularly in front of white audiences.
In addition to Civil Rights, he also spoke about Rights for Women, Native Americans Rights, Animal Rights, and other causes as well.
He was a vegetarian and wrote many letters for PETA and specifically wrote about the abuse of animals in circuses. He was against violence of all kinds both against people and humans, he wrote “Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel, and brutal taking of life. We don’t have to be a part of it.”
4. Dr. William Key
Dr. William Key was born into slavery in 1833, at an early age he displayed a remarkable talent for working with animals. He learned to read and begin reading veterinary texts and treating animals.
Even though he was never able to have any formal training he continued to study on his own and became a successful veterinarian. He eventually opened up his own horse hospital in Shelbyville, TN and was extremely prosperous.
He also trained horses and traveled the country with his horse Beautiful Jim. He taught the horse through kindness and patience and amused audiences with a horse that could read, write, spell, do math, and more.
5. Dr. Paula Kahumbu
Dr. Paula Kahumbu is a wildlife conservationist and current CEO of WildlifeDirect, an organization that provides support to conservationists in Africa. Born in Kenya, from a young age she fell in love with wildlife and became involved in conservation.
While conducting research for her Ph.D. she decided to focus on researching elephants and has since dedicated her life to protecting elephants in Kenya and championing for elephant rights worldwide.
Since 2013, she has led the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign, aimed at helping tackle poaching and the ivory trade by reforming the prosecution process and increasing penalties for poachers.