Women are amazing and among them are some incredible black women who changed history. Without some of the inspirational women of the past and present, the world would be a very different (and much bleaker) place. But enough is not said about inspirational women in the discussion of key historical figures, and black women especially rarely get a look in, so here are 7 inspirational black women who changed history!
This is one of the inspirational black women who changed history who is still changing history today. She is a Liberian politician and economist who studied at Harvard University and became the Minister of Finance in Liberia, despite the fact she had a husband unable to accept her career. In 2005, she then became (and is still) the President of Liberia, being the first female president of an African state. She received the Nobel Peace Prize with two other women in 2011 for their pacifist commitment to gender equality.
An orphaned daughter of slaves in the second half of the 19th century, Sarah Breedlove (her real name) had a scalp disease that made her lose all her hair. She developed and commercialised a formula to remedy hair problems and it became an immediate success. Before long, she had a complete range of hair care products for black women, and became the first black millionaire businesswoman, using her influence to fight for race equality.
Josephine Baker was one of the most inspirational black women in history because despite being born into poverty in Missouri in 1906, she became the first black female star. She separated from her husband soon after her marriage at 13 and became a cabaret dancer in the US before moving to Paris. She also joined the Red Cross and aided the French Resistance during the Second World War, before opening a chateau in the Dordogne to welcome children from all over the world.
Often known as the mother of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks was born in Alabama, a highly segregated state in the 1950s when she made history. She refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, a violation of the segregation laws of the time, and was arrested and fined $14. Her action kick-started a huge protest led by Martin Luther King, and black citizens boycotted the bus company. It was one small action that started something huge.
Despite coming from a poor background in Mississippi and being abused as a child, Oprah was a successful student and was awarded a full scholarship to Tennessee Sate University. She built a media empire over the years, including the famous The Oprah Winfrey Show, and founded her own production company. She was the richest African American person of the 20th century, and became the first black female multi-millionaire to cement her place among the exalted black women who have changed history.
The former beauty queen turned actress has enjoyed a highly successful acting career and became the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress. She has also used her fame to speak out against domestic violence, which she has personally suffered from in the past.
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.
There are so many black female role models in history and alive today, too, so more people should know about them and what they have achieved. Who would you add to the list?
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