As hard as it is to admit, we live in a segregated world, where caste, color, creed, race, etc. still play a role when it comes to how we live. Black people have faced a lot of discrimination in history and even today, things haven’t been easy for them from one state to the other.
It is hard being a black – yet being a black female is even harder, with the patriarchal ideology that still prevails. When in this world women are mistreated, black women have to face even more issues.
Despite all the odds, many black women have done their best. Let’s take a look at the top outstanding black women that everyone should know.
Mary Eliza Mahoney
Born in 1845, Mary Mahoney had worked plenty of odd jobs to feed her family by the time she started working at a local hospital. Driven by the passion to do more, she was 33 when she finished a 16-month long training and became a nurse.
Even after she retired, she kept fighting for women’s rights and was one of the very first women to register to vote in Boston.
Mary Jane Patterson
Mary Patterson, at the tender age of 16, moved to Ohio with her family. Even though her father wasn’t an educated man himself, he wanted the best for his children. When she graduated from Oberlin College, she was the first black woman to do so.
Phillis Wheatley was born in 1753 and she came to the US when she was only 8 years old from West Africa. She didn’t come as a free person. When they discovered she wanted to learn how to read & write, they let her study and nourish her passion.
She went to London in 1773 where her work got published. Later she came back to the USA.
Maggie Lena Walker
It is not an easy task to break even one societal barrier and Maggie Lena broke not only the barrier of race but also of gender when she established a bank & then served as its president. A daughter of a former slave, she got her education from Richmond. She was a teacher and ran a newspaper before she started the St. Luke Penny savings bank.
Born in rural Kentucky in 1906, Alice Dunnigan started working on news columns at the tender age of 13. She studied in Kentucky and later moved to Washington. This inspirational black woman became the chief of the Associated Negro Press.
Alice Dunnigan was the first black woman to cover the White House. However, she was mostly ignored in the news conferences until JFK became President. When JFK came to office, he was the first one to answer her question in 1961 – the first time she got an answer in two years.
Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan ecologist as well as a political activist. She was the very first black woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize. Both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees were completed in the US. She was given the prize in 2004 due to her efforts for promoting viable cultural and social development in Africa.
Maathaiwas the one who began the biggest campaigns to plant more trees in Africa.
Wilma Rudolph won three medals when she competed in the Rome Summer Olympics, 1960. When back home, a homecoming parade was held in her honor, but since it was segregated, she refused to attend.
Even before Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her bus seat while she was traveling in Alabama to a white person. You can read more about this in essays about Rosa Parks and the black rights movements.
She got arrested for violating the prevailing segregation ordinance. You can understand how biased the system was by the fact that she didn’t even get a chance to inform her family through the phone.
Colvin, and a few other women, challenged this ordinance in the court. However, the leaders of the black civil rights movement decided that Rosa Parks would be a better icon for the Black rights movement.
Jenkins was not only a person of colour but also a transgender – we can only imagine what difficulties she had to face. In 2017, she became the first transgender person to be elected to public office.
Before becoming a member of the Minneapolis City Council, she had been working as an employment specialist, policy aide, and non-profit director for over 25 years. Other than serving as a public officer, she is a transgender activist, poet, performance artist, and writer.
Mae Jemison is the first African American woman who went to space in 1992 and made a mark in black history. Not only is she a NASA astronaut, but she also studied engineering and pursued medicine.
Jemison logged over 190 hours in space & made history.
Outstanding Black Women to Know – Final Word
Even though we live in the 21st century, we still haven’t been able to get rid of notions of discrimination due to color, gender, race, etc. It is very hard being a woman in our prevailing patriarchal culture.
Being a woman of color? That’s even harder. In this article, we have paid a brief homage to the strong humans who broke the barriers of color and gender to leave a mark in history.