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eJournal USA: Making Their Mark: Black Women Leaders

04 January 2012
Fannie Lou Hamer speaking to crowd (AP Images)

Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer organized “Mississippi Freedom Summers” to educate black citizens about voting rights and register them to vote.

In February 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves, initiated Negro History Week to encourage African Americans to study their own history. Fifty years later, as the United States celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, President Gerald Ford urged all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” and designated February as Black History Month. Since then, Americans of all races have explored the history and contributions of African Americans during the month of February. In 2012, the theme of Black History Month is Black Women in American Culture and History.

This issue of eJournal USA profiles African-American women of the 20th and 21st centuries who have made significant contributions to many spheres of American life. It also offers insights into how earlier generations of African-American women serve as touchstones for the present generation.

The list of women featured here, while not comprehensive, is wide-ranging. It includes women who have devoted their talents and energies to business, civil rights, politics, academia and mass media. Each in her way has affirmed the American Dream not only for African Americans, but for women and men of all ethnicities.

— The Editors

Making Their Mark: Black Women Leaders

Madam C.J. Walker: Business Savvy to Philanthropy
by A’Lelia Bundles

Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Fighting and Writing for Justice
by Lee D. Baker

Zora Neal Hurston: Literary Legend
by Valerie Boyd

Dorothy Irene Height: Civil Rights Activist
by Holly Cowan Shulman

Claudette Colvin: The First to Keep Her Seat
by Phillip Hoose

Making Their Mark: Profiles of Contemporary African-American Women

Elizabeth Alexander

Mary McLeod Bethune

Ursula Burns

Shirley Chisholm

Johnnetta Cole

Cathy Hughes

Mae Jemison

Lynn Nottage

Condoleezza Rice

Susan E. Rice

Leah Ward Sears

Additional Resources

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)