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“The First Black Woman To…” And How History Is Being Made

When we study history, almost never we listen about the stories of women and Black cultures and people, because the world was built on a structurally sexist and racist system. But, even then, there are incredible Black women who conquered their places - and they deserve to have their achievements recognized. 

For that, today we will get to know 5 Black women that made history, across countries and nations.

Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman (1892-1926)

Bessie was the first woman of African descent to get a license as an international pilot, and was the first African-American woman to become a pilot in the United States. She collects countless fans to this day, not only for the incredible airshows she did, but for advocating a fight opposite to prejudice against women and Black people.

She knew how important she was and she always made that clear. One of her most striking phrases is, “the air is the only place free from prejudices. I knew we had no aviators, neither men nor women, and I knew the race needed to be represented along this most important line, so I thought it my duty to risk my life to learn aviation.”

Mae Jemison (1956-)

In 1998, the first Black woman traveled to the space, and her name is Mae Jemison. This is recent, but a big victory nonetheless. She went to space as a NASA’s mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour

As an engineer and astronaut, she contributed a lot to the world of science and won several awards, like Essence Science and Technology Award (1988) and Johnson Publications Black Achievement Trailblazers Award (1998).

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (1938-)

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is an important figure to African story. She was the first woman elected head of state in an African country, and the first woman to hold the office of president in Liberia. Hellen conquered a place of such importance in politics, which means so much to African women and in the fight for gender equality.

In 2011, she received a Nobel Peace Prize for her work as Prime Minister of Liberia.

Glória Maria Matta da Silva (1949-)

This very famous name in Brazil belongs to the first Black woman reporter to appear on national television, in 1971. 

Glória Maria has suffered a lot of prejudice in her life for being a Black and poor woman, but never quit her dream of being a big journalist. Today, she still inspires a lot of people, who admire who she is and her accomplishments as a professional.

Hattie McDaniel (1893-1952)

Just in 1930, the first Black woman was invited to the Oscar.

But Hattie McDaniel wouldn't be just the first to be invited: that night she made history as she became the first Black woman to win the award for Best Supporting Actress, with the character Mammy on "Gone with the Wind".


The article above was edited by Isabella Gemignani.

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Beatriz Mittermayer

Casper Libero '24

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