February marks Black History Month, a celebratory recognition of the important role African Americans have held in United States history.
Beginning in 1976, it was first created as a way to appreciate the adversities and triumphs made by African Americans over the past few decades, and is now widely embraced by schools, organizations, and cities nationwide.
So in honor of the month, we’re taking the time to honor some of the some of the most iconic African Americans who have broken impressive and noteworthy Guinness World Records titles.
First African-American president of the USA
Former President, Barack Hussein Obama II (USA), was inaugurated as the 44th President of the USA on 20 January 2009, following a record-breaking campaign which made him the first African-American President of the United States of America. In the September before election, Obama raised a monthly record of $150 million (£82.5 million), taking his fundraising total to over $605 million (£332.9 million) – also a record. Over 136 million voters turned out on election day – the most since 1960 – and more than two million descended on the Capitol in Washington, DC for his inauguration.
First double-double dismount on beam in competition
Earlier in August, Simone Biles shook the world as she made history by being the first gymnast to perform a double-double dismount on beam during a competition. The double-double refers to an athlete’s ability to do a double twist as well as a two flips off a beam – and the effect is mesmerizing. She performed the dismount en route to winning her sixth U.S all round title at the United States National Gymnastics Championships, in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, on 11 August 2019. Many might think a majority of her records were set when she competed at the last summer Olympics, but actually, the mighty 4’8 athlete has continued her legacy by achieving six records this year alone.
Youngest NBA player to start a game
This year, the world experienced a devastating loss with the passing of retired NBA superstar and global icon, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria. A former-Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard who was highly respected on and off the court, Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school in 1996 and utilized his passion and perseverance to earn five NBA championships, 18 NBA All-Star selections, as well as two Olympic gold medals during his playing career. Most notably, he made history early on in his career at the age of 18 years 158 days, when he started his first NBA game for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks on 28 January 1997, breaking the record for being the world’s youngest NBA player to start a game. Over the course of his career, Bryant has held other legendary records throughout his career, including most wins of the NBA All-Star Game MVP and first person to win an Olympic medal and an Oscar.
Highest annual earnings for a television personality ever (female)
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know the name Oprah Winfrey. The prominent figure has worn many hats throughout her thriving career, including media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and magazine Editor in Chief of her very own publication. Regarded as one of the most influential women in the world, it’s no wonder that her Guinness World Records title relates to her overwhelming success. Between June 2009 and June 2010, Oprah Winfrey (USA) earned an estimated $275 million (£189.5 million) thanks to her magazine, her radio contract, her production company Harpo and the debut of the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also has the record for the largest TV contract, after signing a deal in 2003 for $279 million (£175 million) with the American TV station, ABC, to host The Oprah Winfrey Show for an extra two years until 2008.
Highest point scoring average in an NBA career
One of the most legendary basketball players in history is none other than Michael Jordan, had an incredible 15 season career as shooting guard in the NBA. He won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and was one of the few players in history to also play Minor League Baseball. A reflection of his prolific athleticism in the league, he has the world’s highest point scoring average for players exceeding 10,000 points at 30.1 and scored 32,292 points in 1,072 games for the Chicago Bulls, 1984-98, and the Washington Wizards 2001-03.
Oldest tennis Grand Slam singles winner (female)
Joining the list of history making athletes is none other than tennis powerhouse Serena Williams, an American pro player and former No.1 in the singles category as ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association. Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. Not only did she win the Australian Open while three months pregnant in 2017, she also broke the record during that tournament for being world’s oldest tennis Grand Slam singles winner, having achieved her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at 35 years and 124 days.
Most Grammy Awards won by a solo pop performer ever
Stevie Wonder has made an incredible impact in the music industry as a talented performer, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Over the course of his career he has become the record holder for the most Grammy Awards won by a solo pop performer ever with 22 awards. He has won Best Male R&B Vocal Performance six times since 1973; his 22nd award was for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals (shared with Tony Bennett, USA) on 11 February 2007.
First female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin is most known for her incredible hits – including ‘Respect”, “Think”, and “I Say a Little Prayer”. Her talent was apparent at a young age, as she would use her larger than life voice to sing in her father’s church. Eventually, she would go on to sign with Columbia records and become a top R&B performer. One of the most respected musicians of all time, she is also the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the class of 1987.
Most wins at the MTV Video Music Awards
Beyoncé also known as “Queen Bey” by her beloved fans has won 26 MTV Video Music Awards, in 2003–16. This includes six trophies at the 2016 ceremony for the video "Formation" (Video of the Year, Best Choreography, Best Cinematography, Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Pop Video), the lead single from her sixth studio album Lemonade. In all, "Queen Bey" won eight awards in 2016, tying Lady Gaga's (USA, b. Stefani Germanotta) 2010 record for the most wins by a female in one night and unseating Madonna (20 wins in 1986–99) as the act with the most wins in the history of the VMAs.
Most boxing Fighter of the Year Awards
He’s nicknamed “The Greatest” for a reason, and that’s because Muhammad Ali is one of the most significant sports figures of all time. Known for being the leading heavyweight boxer of the 20th century, he also had success as a musician and received two Grammy nominations. From the culmination of his success, he ultimately named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine six times, the most of any boxer.