With the achievements of the modern African American woman, come the echoes of a familiar past.
Through the years since the beginning of Black History Month in 1976, there is an abundance of black women changing our world. Trials and tribulations from an unfair beginning for a black woman in the United States has bred generations of thriving and driven women that can inspire people around the globe.
We’ve all heard the phrase of history repeating itself. That sentiment can be seen in the women who have paved the way for our modern heroes of 2019 like: Lena Waithe, Serena Williams, and Michelle Obama.
Loretta Mary Aiken, better known as Jackie “Moms” Mabley, was the first female comedian to perform stand-up comedy at The Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Aiken was not only known for being one the most successful female comedians of her time, but also as one of the first openly gay comedians when she came out in the 1920’s at the age of 27.
Lena Waithe is an American screenwriter, producer and actress as well as the first African American woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 2017 for her work on “Master of None”. Using her life experiences in her work she is an advocate for LGBTQA people on screen saying this to The Hollywood Reporter about her role in “Master of None”, “I know how many women I see out in the world who are very much like myself. We exist. To me, the visibility of it was what was going to be so important and so exciting.”
Althea Gibson is the first African American to play and win the Wimbledon, French and U.S. open titles. Being a black female athlete in the 1950’s was a trying time for an athlete with such talent facing segregation. Once she was allowed to compete freely Gibson stole the #7 spot of the top 10 players in the U.S.
Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player with a seemingly endless list of accolades and achievements including being ranked the #1 tennis player 8 times by the Womens Tennis Association. With 39 major titles in a variety of playing styles Williams is likely the most well-known female athlete of our time and shows no signs of stopping.
Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Lather King Jr., Was a civil rights leader, author and activist in the 1960’s. Though tragic, the death of her husband only motivated King to continue on in the fight for equality. She took over the leadership her husband left behind and created the King Center for non-violent social change and later took on advocation of LGBT rights. She is known as the “First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement” and was constantly making connections with politicians to further her cause before her death in 2005.
Michelle Obama is a writer, lawyer, and was the first African American First Lady of the United States. During her husband’s service as president, from 2009 to 2017, Obama worked to improve many things like the health of youth, poverty in the U.S., education, and LGBT rights. Obama used her husband’s time in office to advocate change in the U.S. and inspire women.
Though time may separate these six women, their drive and willingness to step forward and continue to be the 1st of a variety of accomplishments has changed the world. The women before us have inspired dreams and the women changing the world today will be the beacon for young African American girls who will grow up in the United states.
May this history of powerful black women continue to repeat itself.