This Black History Month, we want to highlight some influential black women throughout history and all of their great accomplishments!
- Mia Amor Mottley
Mia Amor Mottley is the current prime minister of Barbados and is also the leader of the Barbados Labour Party. Mottley is the first woman to hold both of these positions. In 2018, the Mottley-led BLP won a historic landslide victory, securing all 30 seats in the House—making her party the first to accomplish this feat—in addition to winning 72.8% of the popular vote, which is the highest share ever achieved by a party in a general election.
- Sahle-Work Zewde
Sahle-Work Zewde is the current president of Ethiopia and is also the first woman president of Ethiopia. Zewde was also head of the United Nations Office to the African Union. A career diplomat, she was elected president unanimously by members of the Federal Parliamentary Assembly on 25 October 2018. Forbes Magazine listed Sahle-Work as the 96th most powerful woman in the world, and the highest-ranking African woman on the list.
- Stacey Yvonne Abrams
Stacey Yvonne Abrams served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017. Abrams founded Fair Fight Action which is an organization that addresses voter suppression. These efforts have been credited for boosting voter turnout in Georgia which also includes the 2020 presidential election. Abrams was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize because of her efforts in the 2020 election in 2021.
- Graça Machel
Graça Machel is a Mozambican politician, humanitarian, and is an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights. She is the only woman in modern history to have been First Lady of two different countries, South Africa and Mozambique.
- Yvonne Chaka Chaka
Yvonne Chaka Chaka is an internationally known South African singer. Chaka Chaka is a humanitarian and advocates for AIDS,TB, malaria, and envoy and even started her own foundation called The Princess of Africa Foundation which is a partner of the ACTION global health advocacy partnership. She is the first African woman to receive the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award in 2012.
- Bianca Smith
Bianca Smith is a professional baseball coach for the Boston Red Sox. Smith is also the first African American woman to serve as a professional baseball coach.
- Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American diplomat, political scientist, civil servant, and professor who is the current director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state and the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor.
- Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Amondi Nyong’o is a Kenyan-Mexican actress. She became the first Kenyan and Mexican actress to win an Academy Award. She is vocal about preventing sexual harassment and is working for women’s and animal rights
- Oprah Gail Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is a media executive and philanthropist, who is best known for hosting her own internationally known talk show. She later launched her own TV network called OWN. She has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. In 2007 Oprah established the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Henley on Klip south of Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Abdullahi Omar is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. Omar is the first Somali American and the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in the United States Congress.
- Jennifer Riria
Jennifer Riria serves as the group chief executive officer of Kenya Women Holding Group which is a group that serves nearly one million mostly rural Kenyan women with microfinance, banking, and insurance.
- Susan Rice -Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Susan Elizabeth Rice serves as Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council. Rice served as the 27th U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as the 24th U.S. national security advisor.
- Catherine Sealy from St. Lucia
Catherine Sealy created Raise Your Voice St. Lucia. Raise Your Voice St. Lucia is an organization that advocates for women and children who are victims of gender based violence. This organization aims to provide nonjudgmental services for those persons experiencing gender based violence. They aim to end domestic violence through advocacy.
- Michelle Lavaughn Robinson Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She was the first African-American first lady. Obama serves as a role model for women and advocates for poverty awareness, healthy eating and education.
- Viola Davis
Viola Davis became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for her lead role in How to Get Away With Murder. She has been in a lot of favorite films and has won many Academy Awards. Time magazine has even named her one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.
- Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy for her role in Orange Is the New Black. Cox became the first openly transgender woman to be on Cosmopolitan’s cover for the South African issue.
- Gabby Douglas
Gabby Douglas, during the 2012 Summer Olympics, became the first woman of color to win the Individual All-Around Champion in artistic gymnastics. Douglas is also the first black woman to get gold in both individual all around and team competitions.
- Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter earned the most Grammy nominations for a female artist with 79 total. She has also sold 118 million records internationally, making her one of the world’s best-selling recording artists.
- Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson is a trans woman who helped to lead the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots were a series of demonstrations by members from the gay community in response to police raids that occured at the Stonewall Inn. She was also an LGBTQ+ activist and worked with and helped homeless people in the LGBTQ+ community.
- Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist who was born into slavery. Tubman escaped and used the Underground Railroad which were networks of antislavery activists and safe houses to help enslaved people get to free states. Using this, she saved more than 300 enslaved people.