Making History

By Larena Tannert

There are so many strong and fearless black women who have changed the course of American history, and I want to recognize their achievements and celebrate their perseverance through the hardest of times. 

Harriet Tubman: Harriet Tubman escaped slavery and became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, where she led slaves to freedom before the Civil War. Additionally, she worked as a Union spy, a nurse and was an outspoken supporter of women’s suffrage. Her work provided thousands of slaves with freedom, and she remains one of the most important women in American history. 

Kamala Harris: Kamala Harris is the current Vice President of The United States and she has also served as California’s Attorney General. Throughout her entire life Harris has been a powerful advocate for social justice: participating in rallies, speaking out against hate, supporting countless bills for equality and health care, and establishing California’s first Bureau of Children’s Justice. Her work continues to inspire and shape the lives of millions of Americans every day.

Maya Angelou: Maya Angelou had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director. She became most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and served as the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1959. Her writing had a major impact on the civil rights movement, and continues to influence people today. 

Rosa Parks: Rose Parks, also known as “the mother of the civil rights movement,” invigorated the struggle for racial equality when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which over 17,000 black citizens participated in. Additionally, Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for her monumental achievements and bravery.

Shirley Chisholm: Shirley Chisholm, a founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, was the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Congress. Throughout her life she remained active within political groups fighting for equality, and during her time in congress she was a passionate advocate for the needs of minorities. To this day she remains an inspirational figure for millions of people, encouraging resilience in the face of obstacles. 

Mary Kenner: Mary Kenner invented many important products that are still used today, although she never received any awards or recognition for her work. Her most important invention was the sanitary belt (a predecessor of the maxi pad), which has improved the lives of American women ever since. Additionally, Kenner invented a toilet paper holder, a hard-surface tray and pocket for holding items that mount to wheelchairs/walkers, and a wall-mountable back washer and massager. All of these inventions have impacted so many Americans, and they continue to change lives every day.