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Famous Black Women Who Have Made Their Mark on the World Stage

Famous Black Women
Women have been discriminated against throughout the ages, but in spite of the hostility and prejudice, some women simply refused to give up and carried on with their journey to reach the pinnacle of success. Their stories are the stories of perseverance and determination.
Historyplex Staff
Women have been breaking barriers around the world and changing the way the world functions. Women have to walk that extra mile and fight lone battles to make the world wake up and see the need for change.
Like all their sisters around the world, the famous black women too had to face a tough fight to make the world notice them as a strong and capable race, rather than the weaker sex.
Famous black women fought for their right to education, to earn a living and to lead a decent respectable life similar to their white counterparts. Similar to the famous fictional character in the novel, 'Gone with the Wind', there are many 'Mammy's', who have struggled to command respect throughout the world like Condoleezza Rice.
Famous Black Women in History
  • Rosa Parks (1913-2005) - A civil rights activist, known as "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".
  • Josephine Baker (1906-1975) - A civil rights activist and World War II heroine.
  • Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931) - Educator, anti-lynching campaigner and founder of NAACP.
  • Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) - educator, founder of Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, Florida; became the Presidential adviser and recipient of Spingarn Medal.
  • Mary Elizabeth Bowser (1839 - date of death unknown) - A freed slave who became the Union spy during Civil War in Confederate White House.
  • Eliza Bryant (1827-1907) - She founded the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People.
  • Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893) - A pioneer journalist and lecturer.
  • Bessie Coleman (1893-1926) - The first black woman to earn a pilot's license.
  • Mary Fields (1832?-1914) - A stagecoach driver and entrepreneur.
  • Zelma Watson George (1903-1994) - She was an Opera singer, speaker, educator and delegate to the UN.
  • Charlotte Forten Grimke (1837-1890) - She was a writer, abolitionist and educator.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) - She was a civil rights worker and founder of MS Freedom Democratic Party.
  • Jane Edna Hunter (1882-1971) - She was a social worker, attorney and founded the Phyllis Wheatley Association of Cleveland.
  • Zora Neale Hurston (1903-1960) - She was one of the writer from the Harlem Group.
  • Mahalia Jackson (1912-1972) - She was the first Black woman who earned national acclaim for gospel music.
  • Rebecca Jackson ( 1795-1871) - She was an eldress of the Shaker sect.
  • Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) - She escaped as a slave and became an author and abolitionist.
  • Sissieretta Jones (1869-1933) - She was an international singer and a prima donna of the late 19th century.
  • Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) - An excellent orator and Congresswoman.
  • Biddy Mason (1818-1891) - First black woman to own land in California.
  • Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994) - She was the first African-American woman to win 3 gold medals in track and field in a single Olympic Games (she ran with a sprained ankle to win the gold!).
  • Susie King Taylor (1848-1912) - First Black nurse during the Civil War.
  • Susan McKinney Steward (1848-1918) - First African-American woman doctor in New York State.
  • Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919) - She was an entrepreneur, who became a millionaire and was a well-known philanthropist.
  • Grace Bumbry (1937) - She is a famous American opera singer. She is considered as one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of her generation.
  • Virginia Hamilton (1934 - 2002) - She was an award-winning author who wrote children's books. She has 41 books to her credit and has won the U.S. National Book Award (Children's Books).
  • Carol Moseley Braun (1947) - She is the first and to date the only African-American woman who has been elected to the United States Senate. She is also the only female candidate to date as a Senator from Illinois.
Inventors
  • Sarah Walker - She created hair-care products especially for black women.
  • Patricia Bath - the first African-American female doctor to patent a method for removing cataract lenses. This transformed eye surgery by using a laser device that has helped many blind people to see.
  • Miriam E. Benjamin - The second black woman inventor to receive a patent for a "Gong and Signal Chair for Hotels".
  • Madam C. J. Walker - Invented a hair growing lotion.
  • Sybilla Masters - She invented a way for cleaning and curing the Indian corn crops.
  • Dr. Betsy Ancker-Johnson - She received a patent for 'Signal Generators'.
  • Lyda D. Newman - She invented the hair brush.
  • Carol Randall - She invented the ear clips.
  • Theora Stephens - She created the pressing/curling Iron.
  • M. Toland - Inventor of float-operated circuit closer.
  • Bessie Blount Griffin - She devised a feeding apparatus to help the amputees feed themselves.
  • Marie Brown - She got a patent for closed circuit television security system.
Actors
  • Carmen Jones
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Queen Latifah
  • Halle Berry
  • Raven SymonĂ©
  • Thandie Newton
  • Gabriel Union
  • Angela Bassett
  • Sanaa Lathan
  • Pam Grier
  • Nia Long
  • Rhianna
  • Tyra Banks
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • BeyoncĂ© Knowles
  • Nina Mae McKinney
  • Fredi Washington
  • Lena Horne
  • Donzaleigh Abernathy
  • Khaliah Adams
  • Nicole Alexander
  • Tatyana Ali
  • Aleisha Allen
  • Mary Alice
  • Etta Moten Barnett
  • Mo'Nique
  • Viola Davis
  • Yvette Nicole Brown
  • Karyn Bryant
Poets
  • Lucille Clifton
  • Ai Ogawa (Florence Anthony)
  • Rita Dove
  • Sapphire
  • Ariel Williams Holloway
  • Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • Audre Lorde
  • Jessie Redmon Fauset
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Maya Angelou
  • Akua Lezli Hope
  • June Jordan
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Nikki Giovanni
  • Natasha Trethewey
  • Wanda Phipps