Trailblazers

Emulating The Trailblazers - The Pioneering Spirit of Black Women

Black women have an enduring pioneering spirit that inspires. They approach each new trail with courage and make success appear effortless. Black women regularly blaze trails in education, engineering, chemistry, law, business, politics, athletics and entertainment. Forbes Magazine honored 100 women as the World's Most Powerful Women of 2012. Eleven of the honorees were black women, three of whom were from Nigeria, Malawi and Liberia. Some of the most recognized black women include:

Black Women in Politics

In 1968, Shirley Chisolm became the first black female elected to Congress. In 2001, Condoleeza Rice became the first black female to hold the position of Secretary of State in the Bush Administration. In business, she served on several corporate boards including Chevron, the Rand Corporation and Packard. Sheila Oliver, Assemblywoman, holds the position of New Jersey's Assembly Speaker. 

The most notable black woman of Civil Rights icon in modern times is Rosa Parks. The earliest record of a black woman publicly fighting for her freedom is Elizabeth Freeman, born a slave in 1744, in New York. She openly defended her civil rights in Massachusetts by proving she understood the state constitution well enough to sue for her freedom. In 1962, Fannie Lou Hamer tested voting rights by registering to vote after having been denied her rights.

"It is note worthy to mention "Black Women Organized for Political Action" the first African American women organizaton in California and one of the first in the nation to organized train and inspire women to engage in the political process. BWOPA, as the group is called was formally organized in 1968."

Black Women in Education

Mary Beth McCleod Bethune, born in 1875 was destined to become an educator. In 1904, she founded Daytona Normal and Industrial Institution for Negro girls. This daughter of South Carolina slaves was a leader in the NAACP and a consultant for the US Secretary of War in 1944. Fanny Jackson Coppin is another of the early black women leaders in education in the Philadelphia region. She was the first black female principal. Inez Beverly Prosser was the first black woman to receive a PhD. She went on to blaze a trail in research in educational psychology and also helped advance the development of black students through her studies and research. Hallie Quinn Brown spent her life in education and focused on women's rights in the 1880s. 

The Trailblazers in Chemistry and Engineering

The number of black women trailblazers in chemistry may be small. However, black women blazed trails in this mostly male field. Marie Daly was the first black woman to earn a PhD in chemistry in 1947. One of today's most recognized black women in engineering is Wanda M. Austin, CEO of the Aerospace Corporation. She receives recognition for her contributions to national security programs for space. Ursula Burns earned her Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and Masters degree in engineering. She went on to become chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. In Chemistry, Jeannette E. Brown ranks as one of today's top black female organic chemists. She worked for Merck & Company and was a member of the faculty of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. 

Black Women Lead - The World Follows

Among the black women who have blazed trails are women like Oprah Winfrey, the sole black woman in the top ten billionaire ranks. A business woman, talented actress and TV show host, Winfrey is the perfect image of black women leaders. The entertainment field has always been a place where black women inspired the world. These celebrities include: Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson, Dorothy Dandridge, Ethel Waters, actress and dancer, Debbie Allen, and her sister, actress Phylicia Rashad. Actress and singer, Queen Latifah, opera star, Leontyne Price, Big Mama Thornton and Ruth Brown are entertainment successes. The influence of these entertainers dramatically changed music, dance and theater and enhanced entertainment quality.

Resources and Practical Advice

Today's young black women have only to go to their nearby colleges for a wealth of assistance with career planning. These services are geared specifically for black women and are based on continuing studies of how to help black women achieve their greatest potential. Getting into business can seem to be all about making large investments and having lots of business experience. However help is available in the form of business advice and even loans for bad credit so even those just starting out don't have to have a large cash injection to become established - more important is drive and ambition to succeed. It's also important to use the examples set by women like Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and others to form a more unified black women's networking system. One black woman's achievements should provide a ripple effect to other black women. Through mutual mentoring, young black women can have a brighter future.

 

 


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