Famous, Influential and Notable Women in History - Black and African American Women
African American Women's influence
African American women not only had to battle against prejudices of their color but also their gender. Black women have made their mark in history for their bravery and integrity.
Many have wanted to improve their lives and have risked their lives to save their brothers and sisters. Others were thrown into the spotlight by a design of fate.
Still others followed their passions and the spirits of their hearts. They became singers, artists, musicians, mathematicians, scientists and other notable professions.
Some of these women didn't know how to read nor write. Others battled against those who labeled them based solely on their color. Others took up rights for their gender - for the right to be known as women, not colored women, but women.
Black History Month
Black History Month airs on the History Channel in the month of February. It shows the lives of many black men and women that have changed the face of America.
This is a very special month for those born with the darker skin as it not only reminds them of their history, but it brings to light the tragedy and triumphs for a new generation.
Slavery was practiced in the New World before America became a nation. Africans were taken from their tribes and families and sold, forced to labor in a strange land that gave white men freedom but denied the black man of his.
Many claimed that the Bible condoned slavery, because it was practiced back in the Old and New Testament days.
White men viewed blacks as inferior as they bore the Mark of Cain. That gave them the rights to own these people - not as men but as animals.
It was during this time that Harriet Tubman was born sometime in the 1820 or 1821. Her parents named her Araminta and her nickname was "Minty".
She never learned to read and write. Slaver owners didn't want their slaves to have any sort of knowledge of what words meant.
Harriet saw the injustice of the life of a slave. How families were ripped a part, how slave owners could beat the slave to ribbons and how they could rape women.
She began work at an early age. She was loaned out to another owner of a plantation to check muskrat traps. She returned sick and malnourished. At 12 years old she was loaned out again to work as a nurse to another plantation owners baby.
When another slave attempted to escape the slave overseer tried to stop him. She defended his escape and he hit her along side the head. That caused sleeping spells that plagued her for the rest of her life.
She met and married John Tubman. Harriet was 25 and happy. Yet she was still a slave and had to work for her master. One night as they sat on the porch she revealed her greatest dream. She wanted to be free. That one day she would be free. He looked her in the eyes and told her that if she ever did do such a foolish thing that he would leave her and find himself another wife.
Well she did run away, finding her way to the North where black men and women were free. When she got across the border she looked at her hands and felt joy rush through her. Now she could decide on how she was going to live her life.
One way she did that was to help free her family, friends and anyone else who wanted to live free. She led them to freedom and made many trips to free her brothers and sister. It's thought she helped nearly 800 slave to freedom.
She was called "Moses" for her efforts to lead her people to freedom.
Nowadays, blacks and whites and every conceivable mix of races and colors can sit on the bus, drink from the same water fountains, use the same public restrooms, eat in the same restaurants and do many of the things that the younger generation take for granted.
- Before the segregation law of 1964 passed, blacks didn't have that privilege.
A black would never think of drinking from a white drinking fountain, go to the restroom that only whites could go into or many of the things we enjoy doing today. Blacks may have gained their freedom - if only grudgingly - but not their rights.
The Ku Klux Klan made sure to take care of any black that caused trouble. They hated blacks and wanted them to stay away from whites.
Rosa Parks was born in February 4th, 1914. She grew up in a world where there was a difference between white and black. It was accepted that a black person went to the black restroom, or ate at a black restaurant, or went to see a movie at a black theater.
Blacks and whites didn't mix, though white people were kind to her. She saw the injustice of it.
Rain splattered down as she headed to the bus stop one evening after her secretary job. When the bus pulled up she walked in, paid her fee, and then got off and entered in the back of the bus. There she sat down and relaxed after her long work day. She sat with three others.
James F. Blake walked to the back of the bus, took the colored sign off the hook and moved it further back on the bus. He told them to move to the back of the bus as he waved his hand at them. At first they didn't move.
"Move it!" Blake ordered.
Three of them moved. Rosa stood up and moved over to the window seat.
"If you don't move I'm going to have to call the police."
Rosa looked at him and said "You may do that."
She was arrested and then taken to prison. When released she met with the leaders of the Community.They organized a one day walk out.
It sparked many civil disobedience acts across the country, It also catapulted Martin Luther King JR. into the center of the Civil Rights Movement.
In an interview with Rosa Parks months later, Sydney Rodgers asked Rosa why she didn't give up her seat.
"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in." she told him on the radio.
She may not have considered herself a hero, but she was. She, by her efforts, inspired King. They followed the Dream of freedom for all, giving future generations freedoms that they never experienced.
Claudette Colvin is a trail blazing pioneer of African American Civil Rights. She resisted bus segregation nine months before Rosa Parks. Her refusal to give up her seat to a white person resulted in her being arrested.
Her pioneering efforts were short lived. She was 15, pregnant and unmarried and the black leaders thought that would cause a scandal by the white press so they did nothing. This was in the ultra-conservative state of Alabama.
Even though she won her case and laws were changed, they swept it all under the rug, waiting for a better candidate to be their spokesperson.
Serena and Venus Williams
Venus Ebony Starr Williams was born on July 17th, 1980
Turned pro on October 31, 1994
Their passion is tennis. Tennis is a competitive sport. Their father, Richard, saw their passion and taught them along with their mother. They also gained instruction from the Academy of Rick Marric. Yet they learned the most from their father and mother.
They are very competitive on the court and will stand and say something if they think they are wronged.
Venus is ranked No. five in singles and doubles. She is considered the greatest women's tennis player in the world today. She is excellent in playing both doubles and singles.
BIlly Jean King and others have fought for equal pay at the French Open and Wimbledon. Venus has met with the officials and talked about the matter also. Though her talk was meaningful they rejected it.
It was when she wrote an essay that was published in the Times that they reconsidered. Venus accused them of "Being on the wrong side of history."
Hearing of this, Prime Minster Tony Blair supported her. The Womens Association and the UNECO asked Venus to lead the campaign for equality in sports. She accepted.
She single-handedly changed the minds of the boys. She did it for the girls that dreamed of holding a sports trophy as an equal with boys who have similar dreams.
She went to school to learn fashion design. She makes her own clothes to wear on and off the court. She has a creative sense that makes her clothes fashionable.
In 2001 the Ladies Home Journal, named Venus, one of the thirty most powerful women in America.
She teamed up with Steven's & Barry's to launch her own fashion line, EleVen.
Forbes named Venus 77th in the Top 100 Most Powerful celebrities in June 2007.
Venus and her sister in August 2009 became part time owners of the Miami Dolphins.
Her first book, co-wrote with Kelly E. Carter tittled "Come to Win: On How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession."
Serena Japeka Williams was born on September 26th, 1981
She turned pro in 1995
She is considered the greatest female player in the sport. Yet she has suffered many injuries that have set her back. She persisted and clawed her way to the top through determination and the passion she holds for the sport.
Serena played and competed against her older sister, Venus, in 23 professional matches since 1998 and won 13 of them. They've competed against one another in eight Grand Slam finals.
On the court their rivalry is well known.
She creates her own clothes in which she wears on the court. There has been controversy about the things she wears such as a white trench coat on a sunny day.
She had a special line with Puma. Now she has a line with Nike.
She created her own apparel called "Aneres" Her name spelled backwards.
Early in 2010 she finished her education in becoming a nail designer, She is a certified nail technician, preparing for her upcoming nail collection with Hair Tech.
She's involved in many charity works.
She is also in commercials, TV shows and she is writing a TV show story line.
These young women inspire countless girls to go for their dreams.
The story of her life, which she wrote when she was 87, was named "Memoir of Old Elizabeth, A Coloured Woman.
It talked about her life as a slave. Her father knew how to read and read from the Bible to her. She never learned how to read.
A life of a slave was a hard job, especially in the fields. Those who worked in the house of the master had it a little easier. Though for any reason, one could be sold, like the master could sell one of his horses.
At 11 she was torn from her mother and father's arms as they wailed and taken to a new plantation, some miles away from her former master. One day she went to visit them and when she returned she was whipped. It was an example of her master's power. The rest watched, knowing if they said anything, they would receive the lash.
It was then she began to see visions.
She was reunited with her mother but was sold again. She learned the ways and customs of her new owners. She was sold a fourth time to a master who freed her after she served him well. He didn't believe in having slaves for life.
She was 42 when she decided to preach. She found opposition from male ministers who quoted from the Bible, especially:
- I Timothy 2:11-12
A womanshould learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;she must be quiet.
- I Timothy 2:13-14
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner
- 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. Womenshould remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
The current thinking was that since Eve was easily deceived and brought sin into the world, men must have authority to preach.
Yet preach she did. The voice told her to. She found a warmer reception with the Quakers than anywhere else.
At 80 she moved to Michigan and built a school for black children. Their was opposition and how she got around that was to hire white teachers.
At 87 she began to compile her history. When she died, the Quakers changed the title to "Elizabeth: A Colored Minister of the Gospels, Born in Slavery".