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20 Phenomenal Black Women Who Made History

Women's History Month collage

March is Women’s History Month. This month celebrates the incredible achievements of women throughout history. What better way to celebrate this month than by diving into the incredible stories of Black women, who defied the odds and carved their names into history? From activists who fought for justice to pioneers who shattered glass ceilings, their stories deserve to be celebrated year-round.


Learn about 20 phenomenal Black women who defied the odds and left their mark on the world:

  1. Mary McLeod Bethune: Educator, philanthropist, and civil rights activist, Mary McLeod Bethune founded Bethune-Cookman University, a historically Black college.
  2. Rosa Parks: Civil rights activist Rosa Parks refusal to give up her bus seat in 1955 sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.
  3. Bessie Coleman: Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman and Native American to hold a pilot license in the U.S. and one of the first known African Americans to earn an international pilot.
  4. Katherine Johnson: Mathematician Katherine Johnson worked at NASA where her calculations played a pivotal role in the success of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
  5. Althea Gibson: Althea Gibson was the first Black tennis player to win the Grand Slam in 1956.
  6. Shirley Chisholm: Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress and the first Black candidate to run for U.S. president from a major party.
  7. Kamala Harris: Kamala Harris is the first woman Vice President of the United States serving as the 49th vice president under U.S. President Joe Biden.
  8. Phillis Wheatley: Poet Phillis Wheatley was the first African American poet with a published book of poetry.
  9. Audre Lorde: Black feminist, writer, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde’s work explored themes of race, gender, and identity.
  10. Mary Eliza Mahoney: Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first Black woman to earn a professional nursing license in the U.S.
  11. Josephine Baker: Entertainer and civil rights activist Joesphine Baker found international fame in Paris.
  12. Nina Simone: Legendary singer and songwriter Nina Simone’s music addressed social issues and Black empowerment.
  13. Madam C.J. Walker: Madam C.J. Walker revolutionized Black hair care with her product formulation generating her a net worth of a million dollars. 
  14. Annie Malone: Black hair care revolutionary and businesswoman Annie Malone developed groundbreaking hair care formulas and opened successful salons to teach people about Black hair care.
  15. Zora Neale Hurston: Author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston captured the essence of Black Southern life in her captivating fiction novels such as “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.
  16. Gwendolyn Brooks: Poet and author Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry from her poetry collection Annie Allen in 1950.
  17. Daisy Bates: Journalist and activist Daisy Bates played a pivotal role in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School.
  18. Opal Lee: Retired teacher and activist Opal Lee had a decade-long campaign that led to the creation of Juneteenth, a national holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.
  19. Bell Hooks: Black feminist scholar and writer Bell Hooks challenged societal norms with her insightful writing on race, gender, class, and love.
  20. Pearl Bailey: Entertainer Pearl Bailey shattered racial barriers in Hollywood and on Broadway by captivating audiences and receiving a Special Tony Award in 1968 for the all-black production of “Hello, Dolly!”.

Let’s celebrate remarkable Black women who continue to make history!

Written with lots of care, 


Your Internet BFF

P.S. Share your favorite Black woman who made a difference in the comments.


Check out: Two Voices, One Dream: The Unheard Speeches of Josephine Baker and Daisy Bates at the March on Washington


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