“A race no less than a nation is prosperous in proportion to the intelligence of its women.” Monroe Alpheus Majors, M.D. (1893)
YAAHA celebrates the thousands of exceptional women whose accomplishments created a pathway for success in every American history milestone and career imaginable. Many of these women were former slaves. The cornerstone of their accomplishments was the belief in the importance of education and activism to achieve the goals these women set for themselves. They did not falter even when discrimination would fail them; they persisted.
During the American Revolutionary War, the poetess, Phillis Wheatley, and Mammy Kate, the first black woman to ever be honored as a patriot in Georgia, served their country in the fight for freedom from Britain.
Early educators graduated from colleges, such as Rhode Island Normal School and Oberlin College, which opened their doors to black students. These colleges produced exceptional teachers such as Sarah Jane Woodson Early, Fannie Jackson Copper, Charlotte Forten, Frankie E. Harris Wassom, and Mary McLeod Bethune. Others pursued journalism, such as Frances Ellen Watkins, Lucy Wilmot Smith, and Mary V. Cook Parish.
Visual artists and performing artists achieved international fame with their talents. Edmonia Lewis, a sculptor, and Flora Batson, a mezzo-soprano, forged a path for later artistic expressions from others such as Augusta Savage and Kara Walker in the visual arts, and contralto Marian Anderson.
The first physicians, scientists, and inventors, such as Sarah Boone, inventor of the ironing board, and Madam C.J. Walker, the first black woman millionaire, and inventor of hair care products, were responsible for changing the lives of so many people. Examples of other pioneers were aviators, such as Bessie Coleman and Mae Jemison.
There are no stones left unturned when it comes to finding multiple examples of exceptional representatives for every vocation and activism found in American history. We are deeply indebted to the many black women that have made such a powerful imprint on our history. YAAHA will continue to share their stories in the Profiles in Leadership series.