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Top 10 Most Influential Black Women in Popular Culture


In honor of Black History month, let’s take a moment look amplify some of the most influential black women in popular culture:

Amanda Gorman

 An American female poet who rose to fame this year with her candid and heartfelt performance at this year’s Presidential inauguration, Gorman is the youngest black female poet laureate to perform at a Presidential inauguration. Her themes of struggle, racism, and unity are ones our country will not soon forget.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is one of America’s most prominent and inspiring First Lady’s and cultural icons of our time. Her autobiography, “Becoming,” caused quite a buzz in the literary world, as well. Praised by the critics as well as the public, her words never cease to uplift and inspire others.

Kamala Harris 

Harris is a former U.S. Senator and, now, the first black female Vice President of the United States. There is little to boast of that hasn’t already been written about the symbolic new Vice President. Her position alone marks a great stride in women’s history, and she continues to make American women proud in her service to our country.

Oprah Winfrey

Talk about a cultural icon! Oprah rose to fame with her famous talk-show with many notable guest appearances. She also has several notable acting performances in films, such as “The Color Purple” and “The Butler.” Now through her own magazine, she is still touching the lives of her readers with her down-to-earth personality and wise advice.

Toni Morrison

Morrison was a distinguished American novelist, known primarily for her novels “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye.” Passing away in 2019, her literary works live on in American classrooms as well as in our hearts. She remains a well-known author for her fictional novels about slavery and black stories.  

Audre Lorde

A black lesbian, mother, author, and feminist, Lorde’s works within the women’s movement of the 1970’s covered topics disregarded by mainstream feminists at the time. Her topics inluded the black woman’s feminism and lesbian and gay rights, which were deemed taboo at the time. She revolutionized the women’s movement, thrusting an intersectional lens upon the feminists of the time.

Shirley Chisholm

The first black woman to be elected to the United States Congress and the first black woman to ever run for President! Chisholm co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus alongside mainstream feminists Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan, which pushed for the passage of equity bills for women. Shirley was a force of nature with her infamous quote: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair!” She remains forever a historical figure for black women’s history.

Shonda Rhimes

One of the more modern icons, Rhimes is an American producer, screenwriter, and showrunner known for her famous shows, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.” Shonda Rhimes remains a beacon for racial diversity within Hollywood today. She makes it a priority to cast people of all ethnicities within all of her shows, which only makes them richer and more beloved by their viewers.

Katherine Johnson

Johnson was an American mathematician. Many know her from the movie, “Hidden Figures,” where she was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson. Her orbital calculations were vital to many missions that NASA oversaw. Passing away in February of 2020, she will forever be engraved in history as not only the rarity of a black woman in a STEM, a notoriously male-dominated field, but also as a national hero for her services to our space program.

Viola Davis

Davis is an American actress and producer, playing several notable roles in popular TV, such as her show “How to Get Away With Murder.” Davis also has several film and theater credits. She has received an Academy Award, a Tony Award, and an Emmy Award, thus awarding her a title of a “Triple Crowned” actress. She remains one of the most critically acclaimed black actresses of all time.

Erin is a writer for Her Campus at Ohio University. She is dual majoring in Acting and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In her free time she enjoys reading, listening to music, and watching Netflix!
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