In honor of both Black History and Women’s History Month we are featuring stories of phenomenal women. Their stories of talent and strength are truly inspiring.
A leader honored for her courage in a fight for rights, Rosa Parks was instrumental in beginning the Montgomery Bus Boycott and ending segregation in buses across the nation.
When Parks refused to give up her seat in the back of the bus for a white man, her resolve became an inspiration to many. Later in life she helped to found the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development in Detroit. For all her work as an activist for civil rights, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Mae Jemison is not only a brilliant scientist but she was also the first African American woman to go to space. Space travel had always been something Jemison dreamed of achieving. While some around her discouraged her pursuit of science, at 16 she attended Stanford University, then later attended Cornell.
Having a background of chemical engineering and medicine, she served in the Peace Corp. Eventually she left and applied to be an astronaut at NASA. In 1992, she made her first flight, making history for black women everywhere.
An abolitionist activist during the Civil War period, Sojourner Truth was an unflinching advocate for the rights of Black women. She spread the truth of freedom and equality in the name of God
Throughout her life she worked with other great abolitionists like Frederick Douglass. She delivered many speeches including one given to the Women’s Rights Convention in 1851. Her fame led Abraham Lincoln to invite her to the White House. Truth was a woman whose life was defined by her courage to speak for what’s right.
Madam C. J. Walker
Paving the way for Black entrepreneurs, Madam C. J. Walker was a leading business owner and the first Black woman to be a millionaire in the US. Born just after the abolition of slavery, Walker struggled most of her early life. After struggling with hair loss, she created a hair care system that would lead to her great success.
Walker built an empire of a business that offered many women employment, at a time when jobs for women, especially Black women, were scarce. She was incredibly well-known and well-liked. She is remembered most for her philanthropy, as she used her wealth to support many Black charities.
Althea Gibson broke boundaries for Black women in sports. In the 1950s Althea dominated women’s tennis, winning numerous tournaments.
Her wins include such famous tennis competitions as the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open Singles Championship, all of which she was the first Black player to win. The success she achieved led her to also be the first Black women to be named Female Athlete of the Year. Later in life she would even be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Can revolutionary change be inspired by literature? The work of Phillis Wheatley shows it can. Both the first American slave and first person of African descent to be published in America, Wheatley’s work was an inspiration.
Having been educated and excelling in the English language, Wheatley was encouraged to pursue publishing her work. She found fame for her eulogy of Whitefield and her letter to George Washington. Also a brilliant poet, Wheatley’s poetry often focused on the abolishment of slavery. While she did not live to see it happen, her work certainly planted the seeds.