As we transition into March, Women’s History Month, we’re looking back at five fascinating black women leaders we enjoyed learning about.
American civil aviator, known as “Queen Bess” (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926)
- First woman of African-American and Native-American descent to hold a pilot license.
- In 1921, she received her international pilot license in France because no flight school in America would train a woman of color.
- Her goals were to expose her people to the world of aviation. She desired to inspire children to get involved in the flight industry.
- In 1926, she fell to her death while practicing for one of her famous stunt shows. Evidence later indicated her plane may have been tampered with.
- Inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006.
Pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement (September 5, 1939 – present)
- Nine months before Rosa Parks (on March 2, 1955) and at 15 years-old, Colvin refused to move from her seat on a Montgomery-bound segregated bus. She was dragged off the bus, handcuffed, and taken to an adult jail cell.
- Colvin is not a much-celebrated figure in the Civil Rights Movement; many believe this is because she was perceived to have a darker skin tone and because she was pregnant.
- Colvin had a child born out of wedlock at the age of 16.
- On February 1, 1956, Colvin served as the star witness alongside other four plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case.
- The landmark federal case, chaired by a three-judge panel, ended the history of segregation on public transportation in Alabama and other states.
Journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and feminist (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931)
- A leader of the Civil Rights Movement; active in women’s suffrage and rights.
- In 1887, she sued the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad company for $500 and won, but had her case overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. She bought a portion of a Memphis newspaper, the Free Speech and Headlight, and used it as a platform to champion African American civil rights.
- Co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
- Documented lynching in the United States in the 1890s; wrote that it was often used in the South as a way to control or punish Black people who competed with whites.
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political/social activist (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919)
- First Black female self-made millionaire in America.
- World’s most successful female entrepreneur of her time, and one of the most successful African-Americans.
- Made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for Black women.
- Made financial donations to numerous organizations and became a patron of the arts.
Creators of Black Lives Matter
- Organizers, freedom fighters, and justice seekers.
- Creators of Black Lives Matter, a chapter-based national organization that was formed in 2013 to improve the lives of African Americans and rebuild the Black Nationalist Movement.
- Garza co-founded BLM with Cullors and Tometi as a call to action after an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, was killed and his murderer went free.