African American women who shaped history

Last updated on February 18th, 2016 at 12:08 pm

The celebration of Women’s History began as a weekly national celebration in 1981. Six years later in 1987, the National Women’s History Project, petitioned congress to designate the month of March as ‘Women’s History Month.’ This month as we continue to honor women blazing trails across industries (entertainment, sports, education, and aviation to name a few), the following are a few women who have shaped history.

Alexa Canady

Alexa Canady

If you’ve ever struggled with self-doubt, Alexa Canady’s story is a must read. Although she faced several obstacles with race, dropped out of college due to her lack of self-confidence and experienced several dismissive comments made about her qualifications, in 1981 she became the first African American woman neurosurgeon in the United States.

According to the US National Library of Science, she fell in love with medicine during her junior year when she attended a summer program for minority students at the University of Michigan.

 

Jasmine PlummerJasmine Plummer

Jasmine Plummer became the first female quarterback to take a Pop Warner football team to the national championships. Her inspirational story depicted in the 2008 family biopic Longshots, featured celebrities Ice Cube and KeKe Palmer.

 

 

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay

In 2014, Ava DuVernay’s became a household name as the first African American female director to receive a Golden Globe nomination. The award-winning film Selma chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership in the struggle for voting rights.

 

 

Sarah Goode

Sarah Goode

Sarah E. Goode

Sarah E. Goode, born into slavery in 1850, was the first African American woman to receive a United States patent for her invention of a folding cabinet bed in 1885. After the American Civil War, she gained her freedom and moved to Chicago, Illinois where she soon opened a furniture store. Her ‘aha’ moment came when many of her customers complained about not having enough room to fit full sized beds in their apartments. She later constructed what we now call the folding or rollaway bed.

 

Maritza CorreiaMaritza Correia

It’s no secret that there is a lack of African American presence in swimming. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Maritza Correia was the first African American woman to earn a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic swim team.

Despite being diagnosed with scoliosis at age seven, she later became a 27-time All American and 11-time NCAA Champion. Now retired, she travels around the U.S. to promote youth swimming in urban areas.

 

Brenda E. RobinsonBrenda E Robinson

In 1980 Brenda E. Robinson became the Nations First African American Female Navy Pilot. Additionally, Robinson worked for American Airlines as a pilot for 17 years and retired in the early 2000s.

During an interview with the Delaware County Times Robinson said: “I always thought (airplanes) were something that would be amazing to be part of, but I never thought of it as something I would do for a living. There were no women in aviation, except flight attendants, which I actually thought would be a cool thing to do. I never thought I would climb the stairs to an airplane and turn left (into the cockpit). I just always assumed I would turn right and do something (in the cabin).”