Appreciate Black Women
In the arts, sciences, politics, sports, and entertainment, Black women have always been there, excelling and sharing their magic and inspiring others with their wisdom, beauty, and strength. Still, they remain undervalued, underpaid, and underestimated. Today, we remind you that Black Girl Magic is real, powerful, and eternal. Celebrate these queens with us.
Day 23 - W is for The Women
Fannie Lou Hamer, Community Organizer
Fannie Lou Hamer rose from humble beginnings in the Mississippi Delta to become one of the most important, passionate, and powerful voices of the civil and voting rights movements and a leader in the efforts for greater economic opportunities for African Americans. Hamer was incensed by efforts to deny Blacks the right to vote. In 1964, Hamer’s national reputation soared as she co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). Speaking on its behalf to the US Congress, Hamer said, " I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?” She continued her fight for civil and economic rights, despite being arrested, jailed, and savagely beaten by police for registering to vote and sitting at a S. Carolina whites only lunch counter. She inspired and mobilized hundreds with her impassioned speeches, and famously proclaimed:
Althea Gibson, Tennis Champion
Althea Gibson: Before Venus and Serena, there was Althea. Althea Gibson was the first African-American to compete at the U.S. National Championships. Gibson’s inclusion in America’s biggest tennis event wasn’t just about gaining acceptance in the sporting world, but seen as a momentum builder for blacks in the game of life. Gibson had a jam-packed eight-year career, with all of her major championships coming from 1956 to 1958, when she appeared in a stunning 19 major finals and won 11 titles, including 5 Grand Slam singles titles. Gibson would become the first African-American to grace the August 26, 1957 cover of Time Magazine and September 2, 1957 cover of Sports Illustrated.
Dr. Valerie Thomas, Inventor, 3D Technology
Dr. Valerie Thomas: physicist, inventor, and NASA data analyst. When she wasn’t busy managing the Landsat program, which has produced millions of images of Earth, she was inventing the technology which went on to become the premise for more advanced TV screens and modern 3D technology. In the late ’70s, Thomas discovered that concave mirrors can create the illusion of 3-dimensional objects and began experimenting with how she could visually transmit the 3D illusion. In 1980, Thomas patented her illusion transmitter, the first mechanism to create the appearance of a 3D image using concave mirrors and rays of light..
Barbara Jordan, U. S. Congressional Representative
Barbara Jordan was elected to the US Congress in 1972 to represent Texas; she won 81 percent of the vote. Along with Andrew Young Jr. of Georgia, Jordan became the first African American in the twentieth century elected to Congress from the Deep South. She served 3 terms. It was as a freshman Member of the Judiciary Committee, however, that Jordan earned national recognition. In the summer of 1974, as the committee considered articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon for crimes associated with the Watergate Scandal, Jordan delivered opening remarks that shook the committee room and the large television audience that had tuned in to the proceedings. Watch her powerful statement below.
Jordan at Pres. Richard Nixon's Impeachment
Ruth Carter, Costume Designer
Ruth Carter is an expert storyteller who harnesses the power of visual communication to share narratives of culture, race, and politics. Creating costumes for generation-defining films like Black Panther, Selma, and Do the Right Thing, she brings vibrancy, nuance, color, and texture to each of her culture-shifting characters. Carter’s costume designs enable actors to fully immerse themselves in the roles of their lifetimes, transforming Oprah Winfrey into voting rights activist Annie Lee Cooper, Denzel Washington into Malcolm X, and Chadwick Boseman into the King of Wakanda. In 2019, Carter won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the film Black Panther. Her win is historic twofold: she is the first Black woman to receive this honor, and her costumes garnered Marvel Studios its first Oscar.
The Black Queen, Tamara Natalie Madden
Nina Simone, Singer/Activist
Nina Simone was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, an icon of American music. She was the consummate musical storyteller, a griot as she would come to learn, who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of works. She earned the moniker ‘High Priestess of Soul’ for she could weave a spell so seductive and hypnotic that the listener lost track of time and space as they became absorbed in the moment. She was who the world would come to know as Nina Simone.
Dorothy Height, Civil Rights Activist
Dorothy Height is recognized as one of the most influential women in the modern civil rights movement. Height began her efforts as a civil rights activist at the age of twenty-five when she joined the National Council of Negro Women. Throughout her life she fought for equal rights for both African Americans and women. During the 1930s she was an activist against lynching and for reforms to the criminal justice system. In 1957, Height was appointed president of the National Council of Negro Women, which she led for 40 years. Height is also credited with being the first person in the movement to view the problems of equality for women and equality for African Americans as a whole, merging issues that had been historically separate.
Marie Van Brittan Brown, Inventor, Security Surveillance
Marie Van Brittan Brown: Marie Van Brittan Brown felt uneasy in her neighborhood and the police were unreliable. So, she took matters in her own hands and patented the modern home security system. In 1966, Brown designed a closed-circuit security system that monitored visitors via camera and projected their images onto a television monitor. Not only that, a panic button contacted the police immediately. Though evidence suggests the Browns did not pursue commercial opportunities, their invention inspired many versions of home security systems we use today. By 2013, more than a dozen inventors had cited the Brown patent for their own devices.
Nikki Giovanni, Poet
Nikki Giovanni: is one of America’s foremost poets. Over the course of a long career, Giovanni has published numerous collections of poetry—from her first self-published volume Black Feeling Black Talk (1968) Giovanni’s first three volumes of poetry were enormously successful, answering a need for inspiration, anger, and solidarity. She publicly expressed feelings of oppression, anger, and frustration; in doing so, she found new audiences beyond the usual poetry-reading public. Giovanni was often hailed as one of the leading Black poets of the new Black renaissance. “Writing is ... what I do to justify the air I breathe,” Giovanni once wrote. Her poem Ego Tripping speaks to the majesty of Black women.
Ego Tripping (There May Be a Reason Why)
I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad
I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman
I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me
For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on
My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save
I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission
I mean…I…can fly
like a bird in the sky…
Minnie Riperton, Singer
Minnie Riperton: The tragic death of 31-year-old Minnie Riperton in 1979 silenced one of soul music's most unique and unforgettable voices. Blessed with an angelic five-octave vocal range, she scored her greatest commercial success with the chart-topping pop ballad "Lovin' You." she sang on Stevie Wonder's Fulfillingness' First Finale and toured as a member of his backing unit Wonderlove. Wonder agreed to co-produce Riperton's 1974 album, Perfect Angel. It contained the international blockbuster "Lovin' You," the melody of which had previously been recorded and then looped to soothe Riperton's daughter, Maya Rudolph.
- Influential Black Women
- Black Women in History: 12 Icons Who Changed the United States
- 18 History-Making Black Women You Probably Didn't Learn About In School
Click Here for Day 24 - X is for Malcolm X & Ibram X. Kendi
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