10 Inspiring and Influential Black Women You Need to Know About

Black Women

After Kamala Harris made history, she became an inspiration to many young women of color everywhere. While this success is undeniable, many other inspirational black women helped pave the way for Harris and many other young women everywhere.

If you want to make history one day, it is important to learn about women in the past and present who can inspire you. Read on to learn about these incredible black women.

1. Chef Mariya Russell

Mariya Russell is a chef born in Springfield, Ohio, who became the first black woman to earn a Michelin star. Chef Russell earned the star for Kikkō, a Japanese restaurant in Chicago.

As a young Midwestern woman, Mariya started her interest in cuisine by cooking soul food and Midwestern cuisines, such as casseroles, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes.

She moved to Chicago to study at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Her career eventually led her to work at Kikkō alongside her husband.

2. Madam CJ Walker

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Madam CJ Walker became the first black female millionaire in the United States.

After battling hair loss, she developed a line of hair products designed to help hair regrowth, especially for Black women’s hair. Known today as the Walker System, her products helped promote hair regrowth.

After her success, Walker used her influence to create a scholarship fund for Black people in the United States and donated to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).

3. Lizzo

As the most nominated artist at the 2020 Grammys, Lizzo is one of the most influential black women of 2020. The singer was nominated for eight awards and took home three awards. Lizzo’s popularity grew in 2019 after the release of her most played song, “Juice.”

While Lizzo released music in 2016 and 2017, her fame exploded in 2019 as Time named her singer, dancer, and flutist Entertainer of the Year.

Aside from captivating people with her music, Lizzo is passionate about promoting body positivity.

4. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Doctor Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman to become a doctor of medicine in the United States.

She graduated in 1864 from New England Female Medical College. Her story is remarkable because she faced sexism and racism from other white male doctors. Rebecca faced many other challenges, even from pharmacists who would question her prescriptions.

Despite all of the challenges she faced in her career, she has a successful career as a physician and medical author. She wrote and published A Book of Medical Discourses a book that is important to this day.

5. Janet Mock

Transgender activist, writer, and producer Janet Mock are on this list because she received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in March of 2020.

Janet mock is influential thanks to her work to promote transgender representation in the media. Her Golden Globe-nominated series, “Pose,” had the largest cast of LGBTQ actors in a series ever.

She is also respected as an author for her book Redefining Realness.

6. Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is a hero in the Black community for her refusal to give up her seat to a white person on a segregated bus in 1955. While Rosa followed the segregation laws, that day, she felt physically exhausted and refused to give up her seat to a white bus rider.

Her courageous act led to a public transportation boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, that lasted 381 days. During the boycott, the African American community suffered from intimidation and pressure, but they remained strong.

Rosa’s actions, combined with the boycott, eventually led to a ruling of the District Court in June of 1956. After the District Court ruled public transport segregation unlawful, the Supreme Court supported this decision.

7. Lena Waithe

As the first Black woman to win a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, Lena Waithe is one of the most influential women of the year.

Waithe wrote and starred in the Netflix series, “Master of None,” which helped her win the Primetime Emmy. She related to the character’s experience as it tells the story of a woman coming out to her mother as a lesbian.

Besides working on the Netflix series, she also wrote and produced the crime money, “Queen & Slim.”

8. Audre Lorde

Author and poet Audre Lorde is an influential black woman for her contributions to LGBTQ and feminist literature. Audre asked important questions such a race, gender, sexual orientation, and queer stories and theory.

Born in 1934, her work is important because she faced many challenges when feminism wasn’t widely popular.

9. Mary McLeod Bethune

As the daughter of former slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune became one of the most influential black educators. She also became an influential symbol of women’s rights.

Mary went on to become an advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, giving African Americans a voice in the government. She was always an advocate for gender and racial rights and gave funding to organizations that helped women gain the right to vote.

If you want to learn more about this extraordinary woman, check out these Mary McLeod Bethune quotes.

10. Rihanna

Besides being the world’s richest female artist, she is also a Black female artist valued at $600 million. Rihanna is not only a successful vocalist with eight recorded studio albums, but she’s also an entrepreneur.

Her successful brands, Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty, helped contribute to her millions in earnings. With her brands, Rihanna aims to promote inclusion for women of all cultures, shapes, and gender identities.

Rihanna’s makeup line offers more than 40 different foundation shapes and aims to end the beauty industry’s whitewashed representation of beauty.

Are You Inspired by These Successful and Inspirational Black Women?

After reading this list, you have more knowledge about the incredible black women that helped shaped history. These inspirational black women helped break down barriers and helped pave the path for women of color in the future.

The most notable black women include Rosa Parks, Rihanna, Lizzo, Madam CJ Walker, and many more.

If you enjoyed this list and would like to read more, check out the rest of our blog.


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