Note from the Editor: Honoring Black women for Women’s History Month

Black Lens editor Natasha Hill speaks at the Black Lens launch event Feb. 2 at the Steam Plant rooftop event center.  (Ulysses Curry/Inatai Foundation)
By Natasha Hill The Black Lens

We are spotlighting Black women during Women’s History Month. From pioneering leaders to unsung heroes, the resilience, strength and unwavering spirit of Black women have left an indelible mark on culture, society and progress. Black women have been at the forefront of social movements, advocating for civil rights, gender equality, and justice. Their voices instrumental in shaping history, yet, their contributions too often overlooked or marginalized.

Despite facing intersecting oppressions of race and gender, they have continuously risen above adversity with courage and determination. Figures like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett paved the way for future generations by fearlessly advocating for abolition, suffrage, and civil rights.

In the realm of academia, Black women scholars have made significant contributions to various fields, from STEM to the humanities. Figures like Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman astronaut, Katherine Johnson, whose mathematical genius contributed to NASA’s success in the space race, and Dr. Shirley Jackson, a pioneering physicist, exemplify the brilliance and innovation that Black women bring to the table. Their achievements not only break barriers but also serve as beacons of inspiration for future generations of scholars and scientists.

In arts and culture, Black women have made significant strides, enriching our lives with their creativity, talent and beauty. From soul-stirring writers like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, to the groundbreaking music of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and electrifying performances of Tina Turner and Beyoncé, their artistic expressions have resonated across generations, inspiring millions and shaping cultural movements.

Black women have excelled in business and academia, defying stereotypes and breaking barriers. From Madam C.J. Walker, who became the first female self-made millionaire in America, to Oprah Winfrey the first Black woman billionaire and Rhianna becoming the youngest self made female billionaire, exemplify the tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit of Black women.

Amidst these remarkable achievements, Black women continue to face systemic injustices and disparities. From the gender pay gap to health care disparities and the disproportionate rates of violence and incarceration, all pose formidable challenges to the well-being and advancement of Black women. It is crucial to acknowledge and address these inequities, recognizing that the fight for gender and racial justice is interconnected. Intersectional approaches that center the experiences of Black women, including queer and transgender women, are essential in creating meaningful change and building a more inclusive and equitable society for all of us.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us all commit ourselves to amplifying the voices of Black women, celebrate their achievements, uplift their stories, and ensure that their contributions are fully recognized and valued. This means supporting initiatives that promote economic empowerment, educational equity, healthcare access, and political representation for Black women. It means challenging stereotypes and biases, advocating for inclusive policies, and standing in solidarity with Black women-led movements for justice and liberation. Let’s go!