Despite all the strides women have made, including securing the right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment, those advances have consistently lagged for Black women. It wasn’t until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, for instance, that African American women could vote nationwide without encountering obstacles put in place to keep them from doing so.
Women have always had to fight for equity in America, but Black women have had to fight harder and longer — and still do. While women make, on average, for every dollar that a man makes, Black women earn just 62 cents, according to .
And yet, in spite of numerous challenges, Black women press on. In 2020, a of Black women ran for office, Black women organizers led political seismic shifts leading up to the presidential election and Black women continue to be a leading voice for racial justice and equity.
“Black women have been doing the work for a long time,” Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, M4BL activist and Highlander Research & Education Center co-executive director, told Yahoo News. “This work is not about making saviors. We need to be celebrating all of them.”
This Women’s History Month, Yahoo News is shining a spotlight on eight trailblazing Black women who continue to push for full equality.
Rosalind “Roz” Brewer (CEO of Walgreens, only Black woman currently serving as the head of a Fortune 500 company)
“When you’re a Black woman, you get mistaken a lot,” Brewer said in her speech. “You get mistaken as someone who could actually not have the top job. Sometimes you’re mistaken for kitchen help. Sometimes people assume you’re in the wrong place. And all I can think in the back of my head is, ‘No, you’re in the wrong place.’”
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo. (first Black congresswoman in Missouri’s history)
Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement)
“I'm working towards a world that my child can live in freely — that he can feel all his imagination and his dreams that are at his feet,” Cullors . “[One where] he won't feel crushed by racism and he won't feel crushed by the pressures of patriarchy.”
Jennifer King (first Black woman full-time asst. coach in NFL)
“Representation means so much,” King when she was first hired in January. “We’re what we didn’t have growing up. … To be able to see that I think is big. I think it’s super cool to be a part of this and just keep doing a good job.”
Nse Ufot (Chief Executive Officer of the New Georgia Project)
Stacey Abrams (Founder of Fair Fight)
“The people have the power to believe in their change,” Abrams . “Every time we see opportunities to improve the lives of others, we should be able to take it. That means the people whose lives need to improve the most have to have the power to do so.”
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett (viral immunologist who led team to create COVID-19 vaccine)
“Vaccines have the potential to be the equalizer of health disparities, especially around infectious diseases,” Corbett last month. “I could never sleep at night if I developed anything — if any product of my science came out — and it did not equally benefit the people that look like me. Period.”
Kamala Harris (first female, first Black and first South Asian American U.S. vice president)
“My mother used to tell me … ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last,’” Harris said at Spelman College in 2018. “And that’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.”