Recognizing Black History Month

Recognizing Black History Month

February 2, 2020 Reflections from Changemakers 57

Saturday, January 25th we convened as a community to recognize and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in a day of service. February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month. Throughout history, there have been black #AgentsofChange advocating and working to secure equal rights and fair treatment of African Americans and those whose voices are not heard. Throughout this month we often see the same Changemakers featured in history books and classrooms- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X among others.

Take some time to research a Black leader and in your own words, post a brief summary (one paragraph) about

  • who they are
  • what they did
  • their impact

Pay attention to the posts of those before you and try not to post about duplicate leaders. If you do post about the same person as one of your peers, comment on their post instead of adding your own, and make sure you are adding new information. 


57 Responses

  1. Kathryn Casey says:

    I am very late to this but I chose to write about Dr. Charles Drew because he is a very underrated figure in history. He was a researcher and surgeon that had break through applications of plasma in regard to blood transfusions. He was the first African-American to receive a doctorate from Columbia University. Then went on to be the leading authority on blood transfusions and storage. His contributions had major impacts during World War II. At the time the U.S. Military ruled that blood of African-Americans could not be used on black troops even though there is no racial characteristics that impact the suitability of blood. Dr. Charles Drew was enraged by this and cut his ties with the Red Cross and returned to his teaching at Howard University where he taught a generation worth of black physicians. His research continues to save lives even today.

  2. Stephanie Da Fonseca says:

    I’m late to writing this because it has been a crazy few weeks, but it is never late to appreciate these heroes. I chose to talk about Medgar Evers, he was the first NAACP state field representative in the state of Mississippi. He fought for voting rights and organized economic boycotts. He also served the US Army during WWII. He was one of the state’s most accomplished civil rights leaders before he was killed in the driveway of his own home, by being shot. Evers received a hero’s burial in the Arlington National Cemetery.

  3. Pierre Dalce says:

    When it comes to black leadership we often times think of MLK, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks etc. However, one of the most prominent leaders of the black community is LeBron James. He is a professional basketball player who entered the league at age 18, however he has never had the demeanor of the typical 18 year old. He is constantly speaking about leadership, inclusion, self-trust and patience. These are qualities that LeBron James always speaks about using his platform as a superstar to speak upon topics that will benefit not only the black youth but America’s youth. Overall LeBron’s impact is that of great importance, especially to those who look up to him. He is a great role model and leader among the black community and is one of the great leaders of our generation as well. The fact that he is a athlete I think takes away from his how great of a leader he is.

  4. Ivory Moore says:

    So, I’m late doing this blog because I’ve read through everyone else’s responses weeks ago and it honestly made me so emotional that I had to close my laptop and I forgot all about completing my own post! But this Black History Month Id like to recognize Erykah Badu. She’s someone My mother has always looked up to, her style as a free black woman is contagious and liberating. A lot of people know Erykah Badu as an artist/ songwriter, but she is also a social activist. Erykah Badu is known for speaking her mind during controversial conversations and uses her music as a platform to liberate. She liberates Black females of all ages to embrace themselves and their inner diva. She encourages Black women to be exotic/ erotic and go against the status quo.

  5. Tori Mangelli says:

    Hank Aaron was one of the first famous baseball players of color. Aaron broke the record in 1974 with 20 home runs as well as other accomplishments. He ranked second in home runs from all time, third in hits and games played, and forth in the most amount of runs ever scored. Hank was not afraid to speak up about the racism he experienced in the league. Hank Aaron, nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank,” had nearly 3,000 letters come into the Braves office (his team) a day. Some were congratulating him, while others said he had no right to break baseball’s most sacred records as a Black man, as well as death threats. Hank spoke out against the league for their lack of inclusion of minorities. One famous quote Hank said was, “On the field, Blacks have been able to be supergiants. But, once our playing days are over, this is the end of it and we go back to the back of the bus again.” Hank Aaron proved that Black men and other minorities should have a spot on the field. He showed that they were not only equally deserving but could also be better than white players. This inspired many minorities to pursue their dreams, as well as changed the game of baseball for Blacks and all minorities forever.

    “Hank Aaron.”, A&E Networks Television, 29 Jan. 2020, Accessed 15 February 2020.

  6. Aedan says:

    Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, also known as Chance the Rapper, is not only an incredibly talented musician, but an involved figure in activism and politics. Bennett was named as Chicago’s Outstanding Youth of the Year for his work in Chicago working with youth through music. This work eventually pushed him towards developing his nonprofit, SocialWorks, which supports these youth efforts in Detroit and Chicago, as well as, initiatives to support the homeless community. He also actively fights against gun violence and contributes to the funding of the Chicago public school system. Bennett also uses his vast following and platform to speak out on social issues, and will be honored with the UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Award in 2020. I think that celebrities, like Chance the Rapper, who use their platform to empower others and speak out against injustice are extremely influential today.

  7. Kathleen Callery says:

    Shirley Chisholm was a passionate and engaged leader. As the first African American in congress, Shirley Chisholm has broken barriers and paved paths for future leaders. Shirley was raised in Brooklyn to immigrant parents. She took her education very seriously and graduated from Brooklyn College cum laude. Originally, she worked in early-childhood care, running two daycares. During this time she remained actively engaged in social movements. She was a member of the NAACP, Nation League of Women Voters, Urban League and the Democratic Party club. Running as “fighting Shirley,” she gained her position in 1968. Her nickname precedes her as she was determined to make change with her position. During her time she introduced 50 pieces of legislation. Shirley ran for presidential office in 1972. I believe that Shirley shows a certain kind of motivation that should be admired. She worked hard and never let barriers set before her change her passion. It a time period of political unrest, I think Shirley Chisholm stands as a model for those willing to make change!

    • Kathleen Callery says:

      Michals, Debra. “Shirley Chisholm.” National Women’s History Museum. National Women’s History Museum, 2015. February, 16, 2020.

  8. Nia Colon says:

    Maya Angelou was an African America poet & civil right activist. She was so important to history because she always believed to face your hardships in life. Maya Angelou has a difficult life herself, she was raped as a child by her mother’s boyfriend. Even through her extremely difficult time she still rose from it and made beautiful pieces of art. Angelou’s most famous novel/memoir is The Caged Bird Sings. Her legacy will live on forever through her poems and books.
    Retrieved from:

  9. Maura Lynch says:

    In honor of Black History Month this year, I spent some time learning about Mary Eliza Mahoney. Mary was the first African American woman to complete nursing training in the U.S. Mary’s parents were slaves freed from North Carolina and they moved up to Boston for the betterment of their family. The first hospital she worked at was dedicated to providing healthcare only to women and their children. It consisted of an all- women staff of physicians. Not only was Mary a member of the civil rights movement, but also of the feminist movement. After being one of the few able to finish this prestigious nursing degree, she had to become a private nurse due to the overwhelming amount of discrimination. After decades of nursing, she became the director of the Howard Orphanage Asylum for black children on Long Island.
    Mary championed against discrimination and thrived in a career not many can succeed in, even with the privilege she lacked.

  10. Kiara Woodward says:

    The people of color I would like to highlight is the Central Park five. We’re wrongfully concocted for a crime they did not commit. The horrible circumstances by which their freedom was deprived called the criminal justice system into question. The suffering esthetic experienced is still being experienced by others around the US. As adults now the Central Park five speaks out against the injustice they have experienced. This time in their lives has been documented in the popular Netflix series When They See Us.

  11. Kevin Ziobrowski says:

    Huey Newton was one of the founding members of the Black Panther party in 1966. This was a political party which advocated for the right of self defense for African Americans in the face of systematic oppression and violence. The party went on to provide many services for African American communities, such as free breakfast to school children, health clinics, and a youth institute. These programs are important because they were established despite opposition from the federal government. Systematic racial violence was taken against the Black Panthers meant to deter the African American community from self assistance. This party would not have been invented without Huey Newtons scholarly background and political activism.

  12. Samantha Lunt says:

    Richard Allen, was born into servitude in 1760. In 1780 he payed 2,000 dollars to but his and his brothers freedom. His name before he was a freedman was Negro Richard and once he was freed he changed it to Richard Allen. He is the founder of the first independent black denomination which is the African Methodist Episcopal Church in America, which now has more than 2.5 million members. Allen was an abolitionist and used his sermons to preach what he believed was right. The freedom of slaves, cessation of colonization temperance and education. His Church and his home were also stops on the Underground Railroad. He also recognized the fact that former slaves needed an education, so he opened up a school for children during the day and adults at night. Allen used his sermons and teachings to have an impact on the abolitionist movement and gave others a voice to do the same.

  13. Tristan Hunzinger says:

    Rober Abbott: “Gave voice to the voiceless”

    The son of slaves, Abbott grew up with a half-German stepfather whose relatives eventually joined the Third Reich during the 1930s. Ironically enough, young Robert was taught to hate racial injustice, despite encountering it at every turn in his life, from his early foray into the printing business to his time in law school in Chicago, all the way to religious institutions.

    Abbott was a catalyst for the Great Migration at the turn of the 20th century, when 6 million African-Americans from the rural South moved to urban cities in the West, Northeast and Midwest, with 100,000 settling in Chicago. He inspired former slaves to move away from the South after they were freed.

  14. Ecli Vazquez says:

    Jackie Robinson was the first African American to join the major leagues in 1947. Robinson started playing for the Dodgers in California. Robinson was able to break the color barrier that was around the major league. Before Robinson joined the Dodgers, African Americans were only allowed to play in their own league. Everything changed with Robinson African Americans were finally able to showcase their talents to everyone.

    “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

  15. Erin Spence says:

    In 2006, Tarana Burke began the “Me Too” movement. This movement has become a worldwide campaign that has brought to light many cases of sexual harassment, abuse and assault that have been kept quiet for many years. The term “Me Too” was coined by Burke while working at a non profit that she founded in 2003 called Just Be Inc. The organization focused on the well being of women, providing them a safe place to share their stories. Through this, she heard many stories from women who had been sexually abused, and this caused her to take action and share these stories and let other victims know that they are not alone. Since the beginning of this movement, Burke has become a leader, speaking all over the country about the stories of the sexual assault survivors that she has come to know. She is a sexual assault survivor herself and has dedicated her life to advocating for the people who have experience this too. This movement that she created has grown throughout the last two decades, providing women with a platform to tell their stories and fight for justice.

  16. Sydney Maughan says:

    Rosa Parks was born in Alabama and became an American activist in the civil rights movement. Her main role in the movement was the Montgomery Bus boycott, when she would not give up her seat for a white man. She was later arrested for civil disobedience. But her defiance and boycott of the Montgomery buses played a large role in the movement. After this she became an icon for racial segregation and continued her work in the movement with the NAACP. US Congress has referred to her as, “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.

  17. Dana Wakeman says:

    Colin Kaepernick was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and became enthraled in a controversy when he refused to stand for the National Anthem before a game started. When asked why he was refusing to stand for the Anthem, Kaepernick stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” After he was cut from the 49ers, other football players and athletes continued his protests by kneeling during the Anthem.

    I believe Kaepernick is a #AgentOfChange as he advocated for what is right with little regard for the consequences that he would endure. Furthermore, many of the people who criticized Kaepernick believed that athletes should simply play their sport rather than speak out. But Kaepernick decided to use his First Amendment right to demand equality on a national stage.

    I admire Kaepernick for continuing to demand equality and inspiring others to “believe in something”.

  18. Jamie del Rosario says:

    Aretha Franklin was a legend of her time, known as the “Queen of Soul,” she was both a legacy in the music world and a strong leader in the civil rights movement. She is an 18 time Grammy Award winning and the first woman ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her father, Clarence L. Franklin, was a preacher and civil rights activist who organized large demonstration walks and was good friends with Martin Luther King Jr. Aretha’s famous song “Respect” became an anthem for political movements in that era, and was meant to be a reflection on the nation itself. She passed away in August 2018, but her music and civil rights work lives on to this day.

  19. Jack McKenna says:

    Amariyanna Copeny, better known as “little miss Flint”, is a 12 year-old social justice activist from Flint, Michigan. During the water crisis in Flint in 2014, when the cities water was contaminated with unsafe amounts of lead, she decided it was time to be a agent of change. Facing a government and officials who ignored the discolored water and disease, she was up against the odds. Since 2016 she raised half a million dollars for access to clean water, helping nearly 25,000 children. She was also able to raise enough to provide these kids with school supplies and other resources they weren’t getting from their local officials. The population of Flint, Michigan is mostly Black and it is widely accepted and believed that if the area wasn’t a low income, with a minority majority that the state of Michigan and perhaps the federal government would have stepped in sooner. Amariyanna Copeny potentially saved the lives of thousands and reminded everyone that water isn’t something we should take for granted, as it is a human need, but something that many people, view as a privilege. She is now partnering with a water filtration company to bring new water filters to other communities in the US that are dealing with toxic water.

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      I remember seeing the name “little miss Flint” in the news for quite some time. I think it is incredibly that individuals like her can make such a large impact on the world around them from such a young age.

  20. Marykate Del Gais says:

    I believe that Frederick Douglass was an important Black leader. He is known an abolitionist leader. When he escaped slavery in Maryland, Douglass became the leader of the abolitionist movement in New York and Massachusetts. He is well known for his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” describing his first hand experience as a slave. Douglass goes into detail about the true brutality of slavery in an effort to disprove the southern image of slavery at the time. He is recognized for his ability to public speak. Douglass was an inspiration to the civil rights movement and pushed to end the practice of slavery. He fought for equality until his death and created a path for later activists.


  21. Taylor says:

    who they are
    what they did
    their impact Oprah Winfrey is a very admirable leader. She was born in January 1954 and suffered many traumatic events throughout her young life. But, she did not allow these experiences hold her back from being a voice for other people. Along with her famous Talk Show, Winfrey has impacted the world in many ways.In 1993 she lobbied for the National Childhood Protection Act until its was signed into law by President Clinton and in 1997 she opened a girls’boarding school in North Africa. These two projects were especially important to her because of the abuse she faced as a young girl. Oprah continued on to become the first black multi-billionaire in North America and is ranked as the greatest back philanthropist in the United States. She still actively works for justice and bettering the world we live in.
    “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”

  22. Cody Romani says:

    Langston Hughes is an important Black leader. His full name is James Mercer Langston Hughes. He was born in 1902 in Missouri and died in New York City in 1967. Hughes is a famous American writer and poet who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He made experiences of African Americans his subject of his writings. Hughes documented African American literature and culture in “A Pictorial History of the Negro In America” and “The Poetry of the Negro”. Langston Hughes had a great impact because of his willingness to talk about major issues and spread culture and traditions.

  23. Hayley Pijanowski says:

    A black leader who I admire is Kimberlé Crenshaw. Kimberlé Crenshaw is a lawyer, civil rights advocate and a scholar of critical race theory. I first learned of her when I watched her TED talk, The Urgency of Intersectionality. Intersectionality discusses overlap in social categorizations like race, gender, and social class and how it relates to systems of oppression. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality and brought it to the forefront of critical race theory.

    I admire her and recommend all of you to watch her TED talk!

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      I’m definitely going to have to watch this video, I have always found intersectionality to be an underknown topic for how important it is in society.

  24. Alexis D'Aloia says:

    Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist who became known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. She was born in Alabama and her grandparents were former slaves. Her grandparents’ advocacy for equality sparked her involvement in activism. Rosa Parks’ actions on the bus served as the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama that would further push to put an end to segregation. She was arrested for this and expressed that she was “tired of giving in.” Her actions led other African Americans to take action against segregation and racial discrimination as a whole. Racial segregation was declared unconstitutional in 1956, including on public transportation.

  25. Michael Averill says:

    Sports are an influential aspect of American society and were largely at the forefront of challenged cultural norms during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. I see Jackie Robinson as a black agent of change because he was well ahead of his time when he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 to become the first African American in the Major Leagues, breaking the color barrier in America’s favorite pastime. Robinson never showed aggression, anger, or hatred toward the injustices he experienced as a player in an all-white league, such as being denied hospitality at the same hotels as his teammates or constantly ridiculed with racial slurs by fans, players, and even umpires. Jackie Robinson knew that the best way to go about changing the league was to prove it by playing the game the right way. He proved himself to be an incredible ballplayer and earned the respect of his teammates and eventually, other members of the league. Robinson was a six time all-star and a World Series Champion. His entrance into the Major Leagues paved the way for the desegregation of baseball, as more members of the Negro Leagues were accepted into the MLB such as the great Satchell Paige and Josh Gibson. Today, Robinson’s number, 42, is retired by every league in the team as a tribute to Jackie’s bravery and persistence towards changing the game of baseball and influencing American culture forever.

    My sources for this blog are the phenomenal movie “42” as well as one of my favorite books when I was growing up, “We Are The Ship, The Story of Negro League Baseball”.

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      I didn’t know that his number was retired by every team in the league, that is so interesting and very obviously deserving.

  26. Kylie Gilbride says:

    When I read the prompt for this blog post, I immediately thought of one of my favorite people that I’ve ever know, AveMaria Thompson, Esq. Maria was my boss this summer at Touro Law Center where I served as a Summer Legal Fellow. As a pillar of justice, equality, and understanding, Maria always stood her ground in times during times that were seemed to be difficult to navigate and when unwarranted conflicts came about. Maria is the greatest mentor that I have been blessed enough to cross paths with who has shown me how attainable and possible it is to be a powerful female force, specifically in the field of law, but more generally in life itself. Whenever I went to court with Maria, every judge excitedly greeted her and showed her their utmost respect when she took the stand, something that not many attorneys can relate to. Maria is trailblazer in every sense of the word, forever proving that race and gender will not hold her back or restrict her in any way, but instead can only empower her. I’m so beyond proud to have learned the life and law-related lessons that I have from Maria; I feel I wouldn’t have been able to successfully learn the depth of them from anyone else. I will always be Maria’s biggest fan.

    • Andraya Perez says:

      I love this post, Kylie! I think it’s great to have a strong mentor like Maria in your life. I can tell she means a lot to you.

  27. Mara Golden says:

    Ruby Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi. In 1959, Ruby attended kindergarten at a segregated school in New Orleans. A year later the Federal Law required all schools to desegregate and many school created entrance exams for African Americans. Ruby was one of five children to pass the exam and attend the all white school. Everyday Ruby went to school and was harassed by those standing outside of the school yelling death threats and putting African American dolls in coffins. Ruby Bridges made a huge impact for all other African Americans transitioning into all white schools. Her strength guided other and helped them receive the education they deserve.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      I remember watching the Ruby Bridges movie when I was much younger. It was when I really began to understood what segregation was.

  28. Sarah Ahmed says:

    Thurgood Marshall was born in Maryland to parents who had instilled in him the importance of the Constitution and the law. He graduated high school and attended Lincoln University, however, when he went to apply for their Unversity of Maryland Law school in 1930, he was denied merely because he was Black. He was accepted into Howard Law School and three years later, sued the University of Maryland for refusing to accept another Black graduate. A year later, he became Chief counsel for the NAACP and helped the UN and UK draft constitutions for what was then Ghana. Justice Marshall was the first Black American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and had 29 supreme court victories. He advocated for those who couldn’t advocate for themselves; he gave a voice to the voiceless and fought racial discrimination.

  29. Andraya Perez says:

    Michelle Obama is one of the most influential people to me. Michelle is an amazing lawyer, university administrator, and writer. She was the first Black First Lady of the United States when her husband, Barack Obama, became president from 2009 to 2017. Michelle was raised in Chicago and graduated from Princeton University then to go on to be a graduate from Harvard Law School. Barack and Michelle met from working together at Sidley Austin law firm. She also worked at non-profits and was an associate dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago. As well as the vice president for Community and External Affairs of the University of Chicago Medical Center. In her time as the first lady, Michelle served as a role model for women through her work as an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating. Not to mention she is a FASHIONISTA! I could go on and on about this marvelous woman, as she still is a role model to women and men across the country.

  30. Abby Hoekman says:

    Michelle Obama made history by becoming the first African American First Lady in the United States of America. She is not only the wife of the 44th President, Barack Obama, but she is also a lawyer, writer, and activist for change. Michelle Obama is an advocate for women, children, and families as it pertains to education and health. She studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University and graduated from Harvard Law School and then joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin where she later met her future husband and the future President of the United States. In 2010 she enforced the “Let’s Move!” effort to address childhood obesity. In 2014, she launched the Reach Higher Initiative as an effort to inspire young people across America to complete some form of education beyond high school. These are just a few of the many initiatives that Michelle has enforced during her time as First Lady. Her impact has spread far and wide, even still after her time as First Lady. She has been the ultimate role model for all women and has made significant strides to encourage a healthier and more educated youth.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      Michelle Obama has made incredible contributions and I’m looking forward to seeing all that she continues to do! And my favorite quote from her is, “when they go low, we go high.”

  31. Amelia Butler says:

    As someone who is very passionate about climate change and environmental sustainability, I find myself to be drawn to activists and leaders within this area. Recently, climate activists from around the world attended the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland. Among the attendees included numerous young climate activists from around the world including Greta Thunberg, Isabella Axelsson, Loukina Tille, and this young woman that I have decided to write about today. Vanessa Nakate is a 23-year old Ugandan climate change activist who went to the conference to share her perspective with other global activists. Instead, however, she ended up changing the conversation to that of race and representation. In news coverage of a youth climate science event as part of the conference, Nakate was cropped from a photo of activists in attendance, and the other activists photographed and published in the article were all white. She immediately took action and used her platform to discuss the “erasure of African voices in climate change action conversations”. She has taken to Twitter to fight for her entire continent’s right to be heard in the climate justice community saying, “You didn’t just erase a photo. You erased a continent. But I am stronger than ever.” She is now using this issue to fight for the inclusion of African people into the climate activism community because climate change is an issue that everyone can participate in because it impacts every single person living on this planet. Instead of getting upset and lashing out, Nakate is using this issue as an example to fight for racial justice within the issue of climate change. I know that I am looking forward to seeing what she and other young activists are able to accomplish in the coming years.

  32. Chandler Edbauer says:

    Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross to enslaved parents and became a political activist who rescued countless slaves from captivity. Harriet Tubman escaped her enslavement and sought to help others. She used the underground slavery to help enslaved people reach freedom. During the civil war she was an armed scout and spy for the union army. Harriet helped families become free and inspired other political activists who then helped her cause to free slaves and abolish slavery.

  33. Abeer Jafri says:

    President Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American president of the United States when he took office in 2009. He became an example of “black excellence” by defying his opposers and using his leadership role for the benefit of others. It is truly remarkable to have been able to grow up with him as president, and see the incredible role model him and his family have been for citizens of all backgrounds. Some of his inspiring achievements include: signing the Affordable Care Act, supporting the LGBT community in their fight for marriage equality, implementing school nutrition initiatives, and creating programs to help minority youth. The poise and skill Obama exhibited carried far beyond his presidency, and his impact is constantly seen in the world we live in today. He once said, “Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins.” This quote reminded me of the roles we play as Agents of Change, and the significance of empathy in the search for equality.



    For this post, I would like to write about Katherine Coleman Globe Johnson. This woman defied the odds and became the first black woman to work as a NASA scientist. Johnson was born and raised in West Virginia to a teacher (mother) and a handyman (father). At a very young age she demonstrated to be incredibly intelligent. Given her county did not offer higher education for the African American population , she had to move to complete her high school career at age 14 and then her undergrad at age 18 finishing with a degree in mathematics and french. She then moved to be the first African American woman working in a NASA project, defending and proving herself over and over again to a bunch of white male colleagues. Through her work as a mathematician, she gained respect from her bosses at NASA and rapidly overcame many segregations obstacles in the office such as having a separate coffee pot just for her because her colleagues did not want to share the same coffee pot with her. It was her calculations on orbital mechanics that allowed for the US to undergo the first spaceflights. She was assertive, asked to join in important meetings at NASA that no woman was allowed to be part of. It is this along with her perseverance and courage that serves as an example for myself and every woman whose society tries to turn down. Her story is such a great example, a movie (Hidden Figures) was made about her and her two other colleagues.


  35. Kayla Sweet says:

    I am excited to write this post because I personally know the subject. Ivory Moore, also known as Ives is a black leader I look up to every day. This woman has taught me more about myself and how to move about in this world with kindness, ferocity, awareness, curiosity, beauty and love. She serves in her home community and actively pursues justice in every meaning of the word. She not only calls social structures into question but she also questions things here on campus, wanting to engage in dialogue about why things are the way they are. Hoping to create a community that provides ALL students with their needs. We look differently, dress differently, and have our own interests but we’re more alike than different and she continues to teach me about the world in every conversation and exchange I have with this woman. She is so refreshingly open to talking about difficult topics and to have her mind changed if there is information or an opinion in the world that is better than the one she knows to be true. She said in a meeting recently that she brings the mindset of an intelligent black woman to the group, I believe this is the mindset every conversation in this world needs. Ivory Moore is the leader I would’ve loved to have as a young girl, but I am blessed to have her now as a leader, sister, fellow Bonner and friend.

  36. Nancy Rasmussen says:

    For this blog post, I decided to choose not one leader, but a group of nine African Americans that are known as The Little Rock Nine. They were students who enrolled at a formally all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas in September 1957. They were testing the Brown v. Board of Education, a 1954 Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The Little Rock Nine were nine brave leaders that stood up for what was right, even when they were standing alone. They faced hate, assault, and hostile situations but they did not back down for what they believed in.

  37. Grace Harris says:

    Afeni Shakur is the mother of late rapper Tupac Shakur. Afeni Shakur is remembered as a black leader in her own right. Formally Black Panther, Afeni defended herself and, because of that, was acquitted of conspiracy bombing charges (along with 20 others), giving birth to Tupac just one month and three days later. She was also an inspiration for much of Tupac’s music most famously the song “Dear Mama”. Afeni Shakur started the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation,a art programs for students. Shakur also oversaw her son’s estate, including his posthumous releases. She also worked closely with Biggie Smalls mother to united the hip hop community.

  38. Samantha Gisleson says:

    The leader I have chosen to write about is Sojourner Truth. I have chosen to write about her because her voice is often forgotten and left out of history courses. I actually did not know who she was until I took a history class here at Siena. Truth was born a slave, but escaped slavery in 1826 with her infant daughter, leaving her other two children behind. She devoted the rest of her life to being an abolitionist and women’s right activist. As an abolitionist, she fought for many things, but two of the biggest issues she worked on were prison reform and universal suffrage. As a women’s rights activist she is most famous for her 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”, in which she expressed the ways in which African American woman were often left out of the conversation during the early women’s rights movement. Truth was also one of the first black women to successfully challenge a white man in court, in which she freed her son from slavery after he was illegally sold. Truth’s impact went far beyond her years, as her legacy lives on and serves as an example for leaders looking to secure equal rights and fair treatment of African Americans and women today.

    The website I used to find this information is:

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      So glad that you picked Truth, she is such an inspiration and encourages us all to focus on intersectional feminism that includes everyone.

  39. Marlie says:

    Maya Angelou was a major civil rights activist and poet. She had an extremely difficult childhood where at one point she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Her uncles ended up killing him. She did not speak for five years because she thought that her voice had killed a man- the man that raped her. Later, she published an autobiography about her life titled, “I Know why the Caged Bird Sings” and became the first nonfiction bestseller by an African American woman. She spent some of her life abroad in Egypt and Ghana where she explored pan-Africanism and became very close with Malcolm X.

    One of her most famous quotes was, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. I think this is an extremely important quote to live by. She encourages people to make change but at the same time, she said that if you can’t change it, then change your perception towards it.

    Retrieved from:

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      Love that quote from her and the many more she has out there! I was going to research her but you beat me to it!

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