A Thank You Note to Three Inspirational Black Female Figures

The month of February is commonly known as Black History Month. Black History Month first started out as Negro History Week and was initially created by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Woodson specifically chose this week, as it was both Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 12, 1809, and Frederick Douglass’s birthday, February 20, 1895. The goal of Black History Week was to educate and build the self-esteem of African-Americans. It was also created to remove negative stereotypes that whites had towards blacks. It wasn't until after 1976 that Negro History Week finally became Black History Month. During the Civil Rights Movement, blacks opened their eyes to the ultimate importance of Black History Week. Black History Month today now celebrates a variety of people who had an influential impact on the black community. A few of my favorite female Black History figures are Madam C. J. Walker, Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama, who have all impacted me in similar, yet also very different ways.Hair is such a big phenomenon in the black community. We spend a lot of time and money to ensure that our hair comes out the very best. Madam C. J. Walker is one of the first women to dominate the hair industry. She invented her own hair product line for African-American women in 1905. With the success of her hair products, she became one of the first millionaires in the African American community. She was on a mission to empower beautiful young women by helping them achieve healthy, voluminous hair. The inspiration behind her hair care line came from her own experience with hair loss. Walker experimented with home remedies and store-bought hair products, until she discovered the perfect recipe. The ingredients in her first product were beeswax, copper sulfate, sulfur, violet extract, coconut oil, and carbolic acid. Thanks to her, many women still use these natural ingredients to obtain loveable hair.

“Does my sexiness upset you/Does it come as a surprise/That I dance like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs?” is a stanza from the inspirational poem “Still I Rise”, written by the eloquent Maya Angelou. “Still I Rise” speaks measures to all women across the planet. It instills confidence and empowerment into their thoughts and hearts. Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. She experienced the tough fights of the civil rights movement and used her excellent journalism skills to document the sleepless nights she experienced in her life. Success for her was not easy. She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, which later resulted in his murder at the hands of her brother. Experiencing something so traumatic encouraged her to write, and she unexpectedly fell in love with it, which became a love that she later shared with the world. She wrote influential stories and poems, such as “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” and “Still I Rise.” Thanks to Angelou, I know for sure that women are powerful in all aspects of life. There is always light at the end of a dark path.Michelle Obama is the first African-American First Lady of the United States and the wife to the charismatic former-president, Barack Obama. She entered the White House with style and grace. When she was the First Lady, her biggest project was the Let’s Move! Fitness movement. It encouraged healthy eating and exercising in children, but many adults couldn’t resist joining in as well. She made sure healthy eating was ingrained in schools and home meals, with her ultimate goal to prevent adulthood obesity. Not only did Mrs. Obama teach us how important a healthy diet is, but she also served as a pioneer for African-American women. For myself personally, she taught me fighting for your dreams and visions are what make them come true. While in office, she stood by her husband's side and supported him through decisions that would make the nation better, all while raising her two daughters. Behind every strong man is a powerful woman and Michelle is a vivid example of this. Thanks to Michelle Obama, I am more aware of the way certain foods affect my body and how integral exercise is to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In general, Madam C. J. Walker, Maya Angelou, and Michelle Obama are just a few of the inspirational, strong, African-American women who have shaped my life and who I am as a person. As Black History Month comes to a close, I encourage you to reflect upon those individuals who have made a difference in our country. It is important to remember and honor those who have made it easier for us to live as Black Americans in this country, and who have inspired generations upon generations to be proud to be African-Americans in a time of such ambiguity.