One of the very first nods to black history was in 1976 when ‘Negro History Week’ was celebrated in February. This was the seedling that grew into ‘Black History Month’. When we stop for a moment to reflect on just how far America has come considering its dreadful history when it comes to racism and misogyny, it comes as a pleasant shock to see how much has been achieved on both fronts. Not only did a man of color win the Presidential election in recent years, it was as inspiring that a woman came close to becoming the president. Momentous events like this, and the progress that has been made are worth celebrating – as is the many extraordinary African American women who have made this scale of development possible.
The iconic woman who would not give up her bus seat in 1955, and set off an avalanche of political movement that culminated in the ending of segregation.
A professor, public speaker, writer and political activist, Angela was jailed for her humanitarian efforts.
Shirley became the first Congresswoman of color and the first to contend for presidency in 1972.
Zora Neale Hurston
An animated writer who took part in the Harlem Renaissance, Zora is famous for her novel, ‘Their eyes were watching God’. She is highly influential on female black writers.
Mary McLeod Bethune
Founder of the National Council of Negro Women and activist for minorities, Mary also started a school for black girls in 1906 which eventually evolved into the Bethune-Cookman College.
A Peace Corps volunteer, Mae became the first female black astronaut to go into space. She also founded a foundation that backs science camps for children.
Former nightclub singer and dancer, Maya became a highly regarded writer. She is also known for campaigning for equality alongside Malcolm X and working for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr.
Being a talk-show host is the least of Oprah’s achievements. She was Maya Angelou’s protégé and is well-known for using her wealth to affect positive change in communities globally.
Born as a slave named Isabella Baumfree, Sojourner changed her name when she escaped and became a preacher. Sojourner was a fervent activist for women’s rights and abolition.
Also born into slavery, Harriet escaped and liberated her family and several other slaves through the years.
These women are proof that with determination and bravery, profound change can be made in an unfair world. They deserve to be celebrated.
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