A decade is defined by its popular culture at the time. The 1980s were musically defined by artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. But there are hidden gems, events and forces in every decade that many don’t know about. People overlooked and still don’t fully realize the massive impact of one of the most influential albums of the decade, which came near the end: Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet.”
But mainstream artists and cultural forces aren’t the only factors shaping history. Some hidden events in history have shaped social movements, society and the way we live itself. These hidden gems, may those be events, people, music or another story, are rendered invisible amid the popular highlights, so let's bring them to light.
The Black Cowboys
John Wayne films about the frontier, a great many saloons and the threat of “Indians” missed one important thing when it came to the American West: Black cowboys.
Historians estimate that 1 in 4 cowboys were Black, according to Smithsonian. Many of the first cowboys were Black. During the Civil War, many white Texan ranchers depended on slaves to maintain their land and cattle herds.
The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves, and ranchers were compelled to hire now-free, skilled Blacks as paid cowhands. Black cowboys were brilliant horsemen, and even today, there is a generation of Black cowboys that is continuing the legacy of its ancestors, and should be celebrated.
The Greatest Songwriter You’ve Never Heard Of
You probably don’t know who she is or what her name is, but you know her songs. Rose Marie McCoy composed and collaborated approximately 850 songs with artists such as Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. An Arkansas native, she brought Black and white, Northern and Southern musical styles together.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, American pop music saw the melding of different genres, according to NPR. As rock 'n’ roll was on the rise, people were eager to meet with anybody who said that they could write in that genre. And McCoy was one of the major forces in music that we don’t hear enough about.
The Lady That Got Us To The Moon
Many times when we talk about taking the first step on the moon, we discuss men and the first man landing on the moon. But Neil Armstrong wouldn’t have been able to get to the moon if it weren't for Margaret Hamilton. Hamilton is a renowned mathematician and computer science pioneer.
She is credited with having coined the term "software engineering" while developing the navigation system for the Apollo spacecraft, according to Software Magazine. From her days with NASA to her current standing as a revolutionary software engineer, she is one of the hidden figures that paved the way for the industry itself and changed the world forever.
The Silent Era of Hollywood Was Dominated By Women, One In Particular
When we hear about Hollywood, our minds tend to go to the male-dominated spaces of production and behind-the-scenes environment. But during the silent era of Hollywood, women were at the forefront of the industry.
Screenwriter Frances Marion was among one of the women that was at the epicenter of the industry, according to Refinery29. She wrote 325 scripts over the course of her career and created a space for women in the industry where they gathered, socialized and supported each other. She is one of the prominent women and hidden gems in history, and paved the way for women in the Hollywood industry.