(CNN)Black history is American history.
It's easy to say. But while most grade school teachers agree that the experience and contributions of African-Americans are essential to understanding the nation's past, only about 9% of total class time -- about one or two lessons -- gets devoted to it, a 2015 study by the National Council for the Social Studies found.
Part of why, the study found, is that teachers often lack the confidence to teach black history and aren't sure "how and what content should be delivered."
Certainly worthy are these trailblazers, who excelled in fields that, until they made their mark, had been off-limits to black women.
The first published poet
Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American poet to publish a book.
Born in 1753, she was brought to New England from West Africa as a slave when she was nearly 8 years old.
The Wheatley family purchased and named the young girl, and after discovering her passion for writing (they caught her writing with chalk on a wall), tutored her in reading and writing.
She studied English literature, Latin, Greek and The Bible. With the family's help, Phillis Wheatley traveled to London in 1773 and published her first poems. Soon after, when she returned to America, she was granted her freedom.
The first college graduate
Mary Jane Patterson was 16 years old when her family, among others, moved to Ohio in hopes of sending their children to college. The daughter of a master mason, Patterson became the first black woman to graduate from an established American college, Oberlin College.
Three years after her completing her studies in 1862, Patterson was appointed a teacher assistant in the Female Department of the Institute of Colored Youth in Philadelphia, according to the African American Registry.
She later taught at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, renamed Dunbar High School, serving as the school's first black principal from 1871 to 1874.
The first nurse
Mary Eliza Mahoney, born in 1845, had been a cook, a janitor and a washerwoman before she began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, according to Jacksonville University.
When she was 33, she entered the hospital's 16-month nursing program and earned her certification.
In a 40-year career, Mahoney directed the Howard Orphan Asylum in Long Island, New York, and was a founding member of the group that became the American Nurses Association.
After retirement, Mahoney continued to fight for minority rights and in 1920 became one of the first women to register to vote in Boston.
The first bank president
Maggie Lena Mitchell, the daughter of a former slave, went to public schools in Richmond, Virginia, became a teacher and established a newspaper before founding the St. Luke Penny Savings bank in 1903, according to the National Park Service.