If you really want to know just how much of a difference black women have made throughout the course of history, you’re in the right place! Be inspired.
Prior to her marriage Michelle LaVaughn Robinson studied law at Princeton and Harvard before working at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she was the only African American woman. Whilst working there, she met her later to be husband Barack Obama. Since 2009 where Barack was elected President, the world recognises Michelle Obama as the first black First Lady in the history of the United States. During her role as First Lady, Michelle has been involved in supporting various projects including making a fight against obesity and raising awareness for childhood fitness through her campaign – ‘Let’s Move’.Mrs Obama now works with Dr. Jill Biden on the Joining Forces initiative to help support American soldiers and military families across the nation.
Born into slavery in 1820, Harriet Tubman successfully managed to escape to the free state of Pennsylvania in 1849. After sometime, Tubman returned to the South where she helped to deliver her parents, siblings and over 60 others to the freedom. She then became known in history as the ‘Conductor of the Underground Railroad’. In 1850, Harriet began to help escaping slaves make it all the way to Canada, where slavery was outlawed. Harriet remained active during the Civil War as a cook, nurse for the Union Army, and worked as an abolitionist throughout her life.
In 1925 Hattie became the very first African-American woman on the radio. In 1934 she appeared on-screen for the first time in Judge Priest and in 1939 Hattie landed the role that she would become known for throughout history: Mammy in Gone with the Wind. This role led Hattie to become the first black woman to win an Academy Award, as Best Supporting Actress.
One of the five original supermodels, Naomi caught her break at the tender age of 15. Gracing the covers of over 500 magazines during her career, Naomi is known as history’s first black model to appear on the cover of TIME magazine, French Vogue and Russian Vogue as well as the first British black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue. The runway was her domain as she showcased the collections of top designers, including Chanel, Azzedine Alaia, Christian Dior and Versace and has been featured in campaigns for Burberry, Prada, Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino. Naomi is now executive producer and a supermodel coach on Oxygen’s acclaimed series “The Face”.
Waris Dirie fled her country at the age of 13 to escape an arranged marriage with a 60-year-old man and moved to London where a photographer spotted her in the street leading onto her career as an international model. Circumcised at the age of 3 in the name of tradition, Waris decided to make the fight against female genital mutilation a major part of her life. She began speaking publicly to the media about her female circumcision and was later appointed goodwill ambassador for the United Nations by Kofi Annan. In 2002, she launched the Waris Dirie Foundation, where she continues to fight against female genital mutilation across the world. In 2010, a film was adapted from Waris Dirie’s autobiography, Desert Flower.
Known as history’s ‘Mother of the civil rights movement’, Rosa Parks made history in the 1950’s when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, a violation of the segregation laws of the time. Rosa was arrested and fined $14. Her action kick-started a huge protest led by Martin Luther King, and black citizens who boycotted the bus company.
Oprah started out in life as just a regular girl from a poor background in Mississippi, who then went onto to become the richest African American of the 20th century and the first black woman to become a multi-millionaire. A successful student, Oprah obtained a full scholarship to Tennessee State University and spent many years building one of the most successful media empires. Her Emmy award winning talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show became a huge hit and from this she founded her own production company, Harpo. During her career Oprah has helped millions, including helping victims of childhood sexual abuse, after being a victim herself during her childhood. In 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Oprah with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, and in 2013, Oprah was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Now Oprah has her own television network – OWN, a new talk show – “Oprah’s Next Chapter” as well as various other shows. To this day she remains one of the most powerful celebrities in the world.
Halle Berry is one of the biggest names in Hollywood. After making her acting debut in a Spike Lee film, she landed roles in a series of high profile roles, like Storm in the X-Men films and the James Bond girl, Jinx, in Die Another Day. In 2002, Halle became history’s first African American woman to receive an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball.
Being the first black woman to go into space certainly makes Mae Jemison one of the most inspirational and adventurous black women who changed history. She’s a physician who volunteered with the Peace Corps before joining NASA, and has since founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for excellence, which brings science education to children.
Dr. Maya Angelou
Known as the “change maker in Black history”, Maya was an accomplished poet, an award-winning writer, a journalist, an activist, performer, dancer, actress, director, and teacher. During her career she was a three-time Grammy Award winner for her autobiographical spoken-word recordings and played a major role in the Civil Rights movement alongside black history legends such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
(Cover & feature images via tumblr)