African American women leaders made a history and broke various barriers with their indelible legacies in different fields.
History has provided us with many successful stories of strength, courage, and leadership. Yet, these stories are quite extensive and diverse at the same time.
So, let’s have a look at some of the many African American women leaders who should be recognized for their great achievements. These leaders have broken not only gender but also racial barriers and really made a history.
Unfortunately, the contributions of African-American women to changing the world for the better are sometimes minimized. But at every moment in history, these women have worked alongside their more popular male counterparts.
Thus, down below you can find the list of just a few of the African American women for whom we should be grateful.
African-American women leaders #1 Anna Tibaijuka
Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka is a Tanzanian-born leader and since 2010 she is a Member of Parliament for Muleba South constituency. Also, from 2010 to 2014 she served as the Minister of Lands, Housing, and Human Settlement Developments.
Anna Tibaijuka is the highest ranked African female in the United Nations. Alongside with all these positions, she is a former executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
During the period of being the Executive of UN-HABITAT Anna greatly increased its budget and function in the UN. By the way, she has fought for the rights of women living in slums and without homes.
African-American women leaders #2 Shirley Chisholm
If you don’t accept others who are different, it means nothing that you’ve learned calculus.
Shirley Anita Chisholm was a famous American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress.
She retired from this position in 1983. Furthermore, in 1972 she became the first black candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In 2015, this brilliant woman was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Shirley Chisholm has also been recognized not only in political but also and in cultural and academic worlds for her career accomplishments and achievements.
By the way, her speech “For the Equal Rights Amendment” of 1970 is listed in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century.
African-American women leaders #3 Karen Bass
American Democratic politician Karen Ruth Bass is the U.S. Representative for California’s 33rd congressional district. It is noteworthy that she is the first black woman to hold the position of Speaker in any state Assembly.
All her activities are focused on improving healthcare, education facilities and the foster care system. Also, Karen Bass worked as chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. The main purpose of this organization is to better understand the needs of California’s black population.
African-American women leaders #4 Michaëlle Jean
Canadian stateswoman, Michaëlle Jean is a former journalist who currently serves as Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.
Interestingly enough, Michaëlle is the first woman to hold this position. During the period of 2005 to 2010, she also served as Governor General of Canada appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Paul Martin. By the way, this position links the British Monarch with the Canadian government.
She was born in Haiti but moved to live in Canada in 1968. Jean received a number of university degrees and worked as a journalist and broadcaster for Radio-Canada and CBC.
Furthermore, she undertook various charity works, especially in the field of helping victims of domestic violence. In 2005, she was appointed governor general by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Paul Martin.
By this token, Michaëlle Jean is also the Chancellor of the University of Ottawa and the Special Envoy for Haiti for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
African-American women leaders #5 Dame Eugenia Charles
Dame Mary Eugenia Charles was a Dominican politician who occupied the position of Prime Minister of Dominica for 15 years. In fact, she was the first and to date only female prime minister of the Americas.
Furthermore, she is the longest-serving female prime minister in world history. She was the first woman elected in her own right as head of government in the Americas. Also, Charles was Dominica’s first female lawyer.
By the way, she is also known as the “Iron Lady of the Caribbean” due to the fact that she was determined to put her country on the path of stability and prosperity.
She gave a brilliant answer when she was asked to define the difference between male and female political leadership, “Men tend to make decisions and leave it to others to carry out. Women follow up their actions to see what is happening to their plan.”
African-American women leaders #6 Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice (“Condi”), an American political scientist and diplomat, served as the Secretary of State. She was the second person to hold the position in the administration of President George Bush.
Moreover, Condoleezza Rice was the first female African-American woman to hold that position and the second African-American Secretary of State. During the period of her confirmation as Secretary of State, she conducted the policy of Transformational Diplomacy with the aim to expand the number of responsible democratic governments in the world.
During her term, Condoleezza was a prominent figure in the Bush administration not only nationally but also abroad. In addition to her political activities, she is also a well-known scholar, academic and concert pianist. Currently, she is working at Stanford University as a political science professor.
African-American women leaders #7 Ursula Burns
Ursula Burns is one of the most powerful businesswomen in America. Currently she heads VEON as the company’s chairwoman. She grew up in New York and entered Xerox as an intern realizing a number of roles and reaching the top job.
In 2009, this amazing woman became CEO of Xerox thus becoming the first black woman to head a company of this size. Burns served as Xerox chairwoman from 2010 and 2017.
By the way, in 2014 she was rated as the 22nd most powerful woman in the world by the Forbes. Among other positions, Ursula Burns was a leader of the STEM program of the White House and head of the President’s Export Council.
African-American women leaders #8 Coretta Scott King
I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation.
Civil Rights pioneer, the wife of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King’s legacy will live on for many centuries. After the death of her prominent husband King became a central figure in the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Movement pursuing the causes of her husband.
During the later years of her life she also actively opposed Apartheid in South Africa. Not to mention that she was involved in the LGBT movement and urged Civil Rights activists to reject homophobia and the discrimination of all minorities.
It is noteworthy that Coretta participated in the Montgomery bus boycott and worked to pass the Civil Rights Act. Also, she is the founder of the Center for Non-Violent Social Change.
After the death, of his husband she worked as a columnist and wrote about social issues and became a regular commentator on CNN.
African-American women leaders #9 Ella Baker
Ella Baker’s decades of hard work and activities included an array of racial and economic justice efforts. Interestingly, Ella held posts with some of the most influential groups during the Civil Rights Movement, such as the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Motivated by her grandmother’s tales, Ella spent all her life fighting for equal rights. There is a documentary movie about her story entitled ‘Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker’. By the way, ‘Fundi’ was her nickname, that stands for a person who passes down her legacy and craft to the next generation. Indeed, she left an impressive legacy that we should be grateful for.
African-American women leaders #10 Rosa Parks
People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
This list wouldn’t be complete without including the ‘Mother of Freedom’ Rosa Parks. Her most remembered act of bravery was in 1955 when she refused to give up her bus seat that sparked a movement.
It led to a number of improvements in the lives of African Americans and to the end of segregation. By the way, this act became a significant symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and fueled it by motivating Martin Luther King, Jr. to get involved.
For the achievement of her goals, she collaborated with civil rights leaders, such as Edgar Nixon. Till today she continues to inspire millions of people who fight for equality and justice. Undoubtedly, Rosa Parks continues to be an international icon and symbol of resistance to racial segregation.
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