The incredible achievements of so many African American women have gone overlooked in this country but their contributions are undeniable. Here are five trailblazers who continue to inspire.
Katherine Johnson: Mathematician.
Born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs West Virginia, Katherine Johnson rose to prominence as one of the premier mathematicians at NASA. Johnson received her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and French in 1937 from West Virginia State College and went on to teach public school in Virginia. She was eventually was hired by NASA in 1953 and worked there for 33 years where she was responsible for handling the mathematical computations that allowed John Glenn’s orbital mission in 1962.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler: Medicine.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler was born in 1833 and was among the first African Americans to become a medical doctor. She began her career in medicine as a nurse in the 1850’s while living in Massachusetts. Crumpler then decided to become a physician and pursued her education in Boston at the New England Female Medical College. After a doctor, she traveled south to Richmond, Virginia to provide medical care to freed slaves following the Civil War.
Toni Morrison: Novelist.
Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in 1931, Toni Morrison is one of the most prolific American writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Morrison received her undergraduate degree from Howard University and a Masters degree from Cornell. Her most notable works as a novelist include The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. In 1988 Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Oprah Winfrey: Entertainment Mogul.
In January of 1954, Oprah Winfrey was born in Rural Mississippi. She also lived in Milwaukee and Tennessee. She graduated from Tennessee State University and quickly found work as a journalist. In 1986 The Oprah Winfrey Show began and over a 25-year period, it became one of the most successful shows in television history. Oprah is the first black woman in the world to become a self-made billionaire.
Loretta Lynch: Lawyer.
Loretta Lynch was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1959. She received her undergraduate degree and a law degree from Harvard University. After working in corporate law, she also served in the office of the US attorney in Brooklyn, New York. In 2015 she became the first Black woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States.