5 Trailblazing Women to Celebrate This Black History Month

February has been recognized as Black History Month since 1976. This designation grew out of Negro History Week, the brainchild of historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926.

In honor of this month, let’s celebrate some of the African-American women who have emerged as leaders in the U.S.

1. Maxine Waters

Maxine Waters

Photo Credit: Luke Harold/Flickr

“I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated and I’m not going anywhere.”

Who doesn’t love Maxine Waters? Born in 1938, Waters is currently serving her 14th year in Congress, which makes her the longest-serving black woman in the House of Representatives.

As the U.S. representative for California’s 43rd congressional district, she is the ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services. Waters is an outspoken advocate for the rights of women, the poor, people of color and children. She’s awesome!

2. Bessie Coleman

Bessie_Coleman_First_Female_African_American_Pilot_(7223021984)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly.”

Born in 1892, Bessie Coleman was the first black woman  to earn a pilot’s license – and it wasn’t easy. As a woman, she was denied entrance to flying schools in the U.S., so she learned French and moved to France.

That’s where Coleman earned her pilot’s license in a brief seven months at the well-known Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation. She specialized in stunt flying and performing aerial tricks. Wow!

3. Simone Biles

Simone-Biles

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“To go out there and prove what I can do has taught me a lot about who I am.”

Born in 1997, Simone Biles became the most decorated American gymnast ever when she won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. In 2018 Biles was named ESPN magazine’s “Most Dominant Athlete.”

Biles was also one of the most powerful voices to speak up in condemnation of Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, who abused over 150 young women. In a Twitter post, she wrote: “I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar. Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper.”

4. Lena Waithe

Lena-Waithe

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

“The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful if we weren’t in it.”

Born in 1984, Lena Waithe is an actor, screenwriter and producer – perhaps best known for her work on “Master of None,” “The Chi” and “Dear White People.” She is also famous for speaking up about her experience as a black queer woman, and emphasizing the importance of intersectionality, as well as celebrating differences within the media industry.

Waithe is the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a comedy series, for her work in the Thanksgiving episode of “Master of None.” 

5. Ida B. Wells

Ida-B.-Wells

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“I felt that one had better die fighting injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap”

Born in 1862, Ida Bell Wells was an outspoken African-American civil rights activist and journalist. Although she was born into slavery, her family gained freedom with the Emancipation Proclamation when she was just six months old.

Wells began her early schooling when her father helped start Shaw University, a school for newly freed slaves. In 1892, she was famous for leading an anti-lynching campaign and in 1913 she founded the Alpha Suffrage Club. In the same year, she was one of 8,000 women who marched in Washington demanding the right to vote for American women; in 1920 the 19th Constitutional Amendment ensured suffrage for the women of America.

Photo Credit: Youth Radio/Flickr

53 comments

Greta L
Greta L11 days ago

Thank you for posting

SEND
Anna R
Anna R20 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Chad Anderson
Chad A22 days ago

Thank you.

SEND
Janis K
Janis K22 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Leo C
Leo C22 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Louise A
Louise A27 days ago

Thank you for posting

SEND
Ruth R
Ruth R27 days ago

Thank you for the article.

SEND
Leo C
Leo C27 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Dr. Kenneth M

Wonderful to see inspiring and uplifting stories on various pioneers.

SEND
Janis K
Janis K29 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND