In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting some of the Black women we admire most for their contributions to society and impact on enriching American culture. This is just a small snapshot from a very long list of inspiring Black women who are making history right now. From politics to entertainment, these women are creating change in their industries and paving the way for generations to come.
Abrams was arguably the most influential woman of 2020. A politician, lawyer, and voting rights activist, she has been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her work against voter suppression and creating non-violent change at the ballot box. Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations, including Fair Fight which is devoted to voting rights, driving up voter turnout, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels.
Follow her @staceyabrams.
Harris is the first ever female vice president and the first Black and Asian American vice president of the United States. Sworn into office on January 20, 2021, she is the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, to which she says, “I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won't be the last.”
Follower her @vp.
The singer-turned-entrepreneur champions diversity and is credited with revolutionizing the beauty and fashion industries. Her empire, including Fenty Beauty, Fenty Skin, SAVAGE X Fenty, and Fenty Maison were created with the promise of inclusion for all women, with game-changing products and a diverse cast of talent.
Follow her @badgalriri.
A poet and activist, Gorman was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. She recently inspired the nation with her original poem, “The Hill We Climb,” for President Joe Biden's Inauguration, during which she became the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration.
Follow her @amandascgorman.
The former First Lady of the United States is a lawyer and bestselling author of Becoming. She has worked as an advocate for poverty, education, and civil rights, and she is widely recognized as the most admired woman in the world for her poise, strength, and positive outlook.
Follow her @michelleobama.
An award-winning singer-rapper, songwriter, and flutist, Lizzo champions Black excellence and body positivity through her uplifting music. She took home three Grammys in 2020 for her album, “Cuz I Love You,” and was named Time's Entertainer of the Year in 2019. “She is defining star,” the publication declared, “Not just for the music she makes, but for what she represents.”
Follow her @lizzobeeating.
An actress, producer, and LGBTQ advocate, Cox became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, recognizing her work in “Orange Is The New Black.” Her new documentary, “Disclosure,” takes a critical look at transgender depictions in film and television throughout history and how Hollywood helped shape current biases against the group.
Follow her @lavernecox.
DuVernay is a director, producer, and screenwriter whose critically-acclaimed work is shifting cultural perception through Black storytelling. With films like 13th, Selma, and A Wrinkle In Time, as well as her miniseries When They See Us, she is now one of the most recognizable filmmakers in Hollywood. What's more, her non-profit film collective ARRAY amplifies the work of other people of color.
Follow her @ava.
A journalist, TV host, fashion icon, and bestselling author of More Than Enough, Welteroth encourages young women to take up space in this world. In 2017, she was appointed editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, where she worked to infuse social consciousness into the minds' of young readers. Now, as a co-host on The Talk, Welteroth continues to create conversations around important issues.
Follow her @elainewelteroth.
Zendaya earned stardom at a very young age, and in recent years she has solidified herself as one of the brightest stars in this generation. She made history as the youngest actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Euphoria and is well on her way to becoming a box-office wonder. The 24-year-old actress has been open about how she feels that she has a responsibility to help represent the Black community onscreen, and she uses her celebrity to champion Black voices. As Halle Berry put it at the 2021 virtual panel for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Zendaya “is proof-positive that things are changing” in Hollywood.
Follow her @zendaya.
The professional tennis player has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and is credited with revolutionizing the tennis industry. She advocates for gender and racial equality in both the sports world, calling out the pay gap and double standards between players. “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave,” Williams said in 2017.
Follow her @serenawilliams.
Known as a chart-topping hip hop artist who holds nothing back, Cardi B is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2019. But she has also become a surprisingly powerful voice in politics. Cardi has been using her massive platform (over 82 million Instagram followers and nearly 17 million Twitter followers) to discuss the issues facing Americans today: political representation, police brutality, immigration policy, minimum wage, healthcare, and more.
Follow her @iamcardib.
On March 15, Brewer will become CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, making her the only Black woman currently running a Fortune 500 company—and only the third in history. She has an impressive resume, which includes executive roles at Starbucks and Walmart. But in addition to being a proven leader, she is also an outspoken advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the work force.
Also known as the Mother of Makeup, the legendary makeup artist is the true definition of a self-made billionaire. She has been described as “the most influential makeup artist in the world” by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and her brand Pat McGrath Labs’ estimated value is well over $1 billion dollars. Her artistry is iconic, and she is responsible for some of the biggest beauty trends (metallic lips, highlighted skin, colorful lashes) over the past two decades.
Follow her @patmcgrathreal.
The California State Senator was the first lawmaker to draft and introduce The Crown Act, an acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The law, which prohibits schools and workplaces from discriminating against people based on hair style and hair texture, was implemented in California in 2019, with New Jersey and New York adopting a similar version soon after. The Crown Coalition is now working on advancing this legislation nationwide.
Follow her @hollyjmitchell.
Hill is recognized as one of the bests in sport journalism. She worked at ESPN for 12 years and was co-anchor of the network's Sports Center for many of those. But after being chastised for her political views, she left the company in 2018 to do her own thing. She now writes for the Atlantic, co-hosts Cari & Jemele Won't Stick To Sports on Vice TV, and hosts the Spotify podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered, where she is committed to sparking important conversations.
Follow her @jemelehill.
This list wouldn't be complete without Beyoncé. She is the most Grammy-nominated female artist in history, and her cultural impact cannot be ignored. She has used her decades-long career as a means to celebrate Black excellence and empower the Black community. Her album Lemonade, for example, provoked an intense worldwide discussion about race and feminism, while her Homecoming documentary honored the beauty of Black culture and provided awareness of the struggle for equality. In 2020, she released Black Is King, a visual companion to the 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift with a message of Black legacy.
Follow her @beyonce.
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