BLACK WOMEN WHO HAVE CHANGED HISTORY

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Women’s History Month is an annual month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8, and during October in Canada, corresponding with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18 (Wikipedia). Unfortunately, women are not always seen to be as valuable as their contributions warrant. They are often known as nurturers and caretakers only, and even today, there are still men, and some women, who believe that a woman’s place is in the home laboring over a hot stove and spending significant time in laundry rooms. There is another side to this, however. More and more women are coming to terms with other gifts that they possess and are sharing them with the world.

The following is a partial listing of many of the Black women who have helped shape world history. Katherine Johnson, mathematician; Harriet Tubman, abolitionist; Serena Williams, tennis player; Whoopi Goldberg, actress/comedian/talk show host; Halle Berry, actress; Regina King actress; Aretha Franklin, singer; Maya Angelou, poet; Angela Davis, activist; Tyra Banks, television personality; Ruby Bridges, philanthropist; Afeni Shakur, activist; Diahann Carroll, actress; Misty Copeland, ballet dancer; Dorothy Dandridge, actress; Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel into space; Shirley Chisholm, politician, ran for American president; Marian Anderson, singer.

Also, Miriam Makeba, singer; Audrey Lorde, writer; Harris Faulkner, news anchor; Yolanda King, activist; Gwendolyn Brooks, poet; Althea Gibson, tennis player; Marjorie Lee Browne, mathematics educator; Vanessa Lynn Williams, actress; Ava DuVernay, director; Octavia E. Butler, fiction writer; Loretta Lynch, former Attorney General of the United States; Leontyne Price, American soprano; Cleo Laine, actor/singer/jazz musician, stage actor; Carol Moseley Braun, politician/diplomat/prosecutor/lawyer; Ibtihaj Muhammad, fencer; Suzan-Lori Parks, American playwright; and Clementine Hunter, folk artist.

Others who have carved a place for themselves in history include Charlayne Hunter-Gault, American journalist; Charlotte E. Ray, American lawyer; Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, publisher; Josephine Baker, entertainer/activist; Amelia Boynton Robinson, an organizer who led voting drives and ran for Congress as a civil rights activist in Alabama; Jane Bolin, first African American woman to graduate from Yale Law School and law trailblazer; Daisy Bates, civil rights activist; Alexa Canady, first Black woman neurosurgeon in the U.S.; Claudette Colvin, refused to give up her seat on the bus months before Rosa Parks; Constance Baker Motley, a lawyer/activist, and the first Black woman to become a federal judge and serve in the New York State Senate; Mary Mahoney, first licensed Black nurse in the U.S.; and Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist.

A few more trailblazers include Dorothy Height, civil rights activist; Venus Williams, tennis player; Nina Simone, singer/activist; Madame C.J. Walker, millionaire businesswoman; Maggie Lena Walker, businesswoman/banker; Rosa Parks, civil rights activist; Donyale Luna, supermodel; Mary McLeod Bethune, educator/activist; Ella Baker, civil rights activist; Marie Maynard Daly, first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. degree in chemistry; Barbara Jordan, American politician; Ruby Dee, actress; Lena Horne, actress/activist; and Maxine Waters, U.S. House of Representatives.

The foregoing individuals are just a drop in the bucket of the women who have helped shape our lives both in the public arena and behind the scenes. They certainly prove that women have great value on multiple levels. In these times we must make sure that our youth, and especially young Black women, are aware of the great contributions to the world that their “foremothers” have made so that it can translate into possibilities for themselves. Women are powerful, and they hold up one half of the sky! A Luta Continua.

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