Girl Power: 4 Inspirational and Influential African American Women

Throughout history, women have made some amazing progress. Women have always fought for what they believed in, and for what they thought was right for themselves and their community. In honor of Black History Month, we recognize four African American women who have the strength to make a difference and make history in America. 

Rosa Parks 

We all know the famous story of how Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Rosa’s boycotting of bus segregation lead to an even bigger boycott, The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began shortly after Rosa’s arrest. The boycott lasted a little over a year until the United States Supreme Court ruled bus segregation unconstitutional. After the boycott, Rosa and her family moved to Detroit, where she co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development to serve the children of Detroit. Rosa also supported several civil rights events throughout her life and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Rosa passed away in 2005, but her legacy continues to live on. By boycotting bus segregation, she inspired her fellow citizens of Montgomery, Alabama to stand up and join her in the fight for what was right. Rosa once said, “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free... so other people would also be free."


Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King is famously known as the wife of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. However, she became a civil rights activist in her own way by taking part in many events, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and passing the Civil Rights Act. After the death of her husband, Coretta founded the MLK Center for Nonviolent Social Change and was behind the 15 year fight to have Martin Luther King's birthday instituted as a national holiday. Coretta passed away in 2006 but is remembered as a brave civil rights activist. Coretta is an inspiration to many because she fought beside her husband for the rights of African Americans and continued the fight even after her husband's death. Coretta once said this to the women of America, "Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul."


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a famous writer and civil rights activist. Her most famous work is her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was the first nonfiction best seller by an African American woman. Maya remained on The New York Times paperback nonfiction bestseller list for two years which was the longest running record in the chart's history. Another of her famous works was On the Pulse of Morning, which she recited at President Bill Clinton's inaugral ceremony in 1993. Interestingly, when Martin Luther King Jr, a close friend of Maya's, was assassinated on her birthday (April 4th) she stopped celebrating her birthday for years. Maya's recent death on May 28 2014 brought on many mourners, including President Barack Obama who said that Maya "had the ability to remind us that we are all God's children; that we all have something to offer." Maya's works are continuously studied throughout American classrooms, and her writings continue to bring inspiration to young writers. According to Maya, "A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim."


Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, wife of President Barack Obama, is the 44th First Lady of the United States. Michelle was born in Chicago and became a lawyer, Chicago city administrator, and a community outreach worker. During the Obama campaign, Michelle was recognized for her "steely, no-nonsense campaign style as well as her fashion sense." Michelle was featured in Essence magazine as one of "25 of the World's Most Inspiring Women," and she diligently campaigned for her husband's re-election in 2012 by traveling the country to give talks and make public appearences. As First Lady, Michelle has focused on issues such as supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, and encouraging national service. Michelle has also supported the organic food movement and is passionate about fighting childhood obesity. Michelle's commitment to these modern issues has made her an influential African American woman. She has used her position as First Lady to make positive changes in our community. Michelle says, "Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own."  

These four women, like so many others, have made their marks on American history. Their efforts to make positive change happen in our country will never be unappreciated. Hopefully these woman inspire you to persue your dreams and fight for what you believe in. 




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Rosa Parks:

Coretta Scott King:

Maya Angelou

Michelle Obama: