Women have always been a part of history. But for so long, their contributions have been overlooked and ignored – and this is especially true for women of color. Even today, despite the progress made, their stories are still often missing. These women have broken racial barriers, smashed gender expectations, and have carved a path not only for themselves but also for the generations that follow.
They are community leaders, advocates, inventors, and artists. They are your mothers and daughters and sisters. They are all of us.
We couldn’t possibly list every name that deserves to be here. But this is a start.
Dr. Patricia Bath: The first female African American medical doctor to receive a medical patent for her invention of a laster cataract treatment device called a Laserphaco Probe in 1986.
Rosalind Brewer: She is Walgreen’s CEO and one of only two Black women to lead a Fortune 500 firm. She’s been referred to as one of corporate America’s most prominent women and black female executives.
Constance Baker Motley: A true woman of firsts. The first black woman accepted to Columbia Law School, the first black woman to argue a case in the U.S. Supreme Court, the first black woman elected to the New York State Senate and appointed Manhattan Borough president, and the first black female Federal Court judge.
Gloria Richardson: Despite working as a civil servant during WWII, she could not find work after the war because the Maryland Department of Social Services would not hire any other African American social workers. This did not deter her, and she rose to become a leader in the Civil Rights Movement by creating the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee. This organization fought to desegregate public institutions. Her work influenced a generation of Black power leaders.
Aesha Ash: A professional ballerina, she founded The Swan Dreams Project, an effort to change the demoralized, objectified, and caricatured images of African-American women by showing the world that beauty is not reserved for any particular race or socio-economic background.
Althea Gibson: Overcame racial bias to become the first African-American tennis player to win a Grand Slam Tournament in 1956. “I am honored to have followed in such great footsteps. Her accomplishments set the stage for my success, and through players like myself and Serena and many others to come, her legacy will live on.” – Venus Williams.
Shirley Chisholm: “Fighting Shirley” was the first African-American woman elected to Congress and served seven terms. She also became the first black candidate for a major-party nomination for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett: The 35-year-old viral immunologist and research fellow in the National Institute of Health’s Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory led the team that designed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine within two days of the virus being discovered.
We are where we are today because of these women. May we continue to acknowledge and honor them not just during March but every month and every day of the year.
Who would you add to this list?
This is Part 2 of our Women’s History Month series. Click Here to read Part 1.