High School Students Believe the Most Famous Americans Are Black

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Maryland asked 2,000 high school students to write down the names of the most famous Americans from the days of Columbus to the present time. The students were told not to include people who served as president of the United States or their wives.

Among the top 10 most mentioned Americans, four were black. What was most surprising to researchers was that the three most mentioned Americans were black: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman. Oprah Winfrey was in seventh place ahead of Marilyn Monroe and Thomas Edison.

The authors of the study, which appears in the March issue of The Journal of American History, point out that many of today’s high school teachers grew up during the civil rights era and therefore assign it great importance.