“And ain’t I a woman? I have born 13 children, and seen most all sold off to slavery. And when I cried out with my mothers grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain’t I a woman?”
Michaela Angela Davis: Fashion, Style, Race, Gender, and Hip Hop
An expert cultural critic and writer, Michaela Angela Davis has been exploring the power of urban style, race, gender, and hip-hop for nearly two decades.
Having begun her career under the mentorship of Susan L. Taylor at the incredibly successful Essence, Davis went on to become founding fashion director at Vibe, and later editor-in-chief ofHoney, a premiere magazine for 18 to 34-year-old urban women that, under her editorship, was the number one growing women’s title at the time.
Over the years, Davis became known for her insightful perceptions and seasoned opinions, penning fashion and culture commentary for publications in the US and worldwide. A stylist to such celebrity icons as Mary J. Blige, Oprah, Prince, and Donald Trump, Davis was often consulted on film and television sets for her fashion forward sense and intuition.
Her interests went further than fashion, however, as she maintained a close pulse on the developing urban culture and its roles and influence in society today. Perhaps best known for her work with Take Back the Music, Davis founded the initiative to promote the next generation of the hip-hop movement to focus on the musical value of the genre instead of the negative, often sexist attitudes that are so prevalent now.
A dynamic woman known for her insightful perceptions of popular culture, Davis developed MAD Free, a multi-platform conversation project dedicated to spurring and expanding the conversation about black women’s image, beauty, and power. Also devoted to several philanthropic efforts, she serves on the board of Black Girls Rock!, ImageNation, The Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School, and conducts her own monthly career-mentoring program. (Biography from THIS site)
Dr. Mae C. Jemison — Space Cadette
“When I’m asked about the relevance to Black people of what I do, I take that as an affront. It presupposes that Black people have never been involved in exploring the heavens, but this is not so. Ancient African empires — Mali, Songhai, Egypt — had scientists, astronomers. The fact is that space and its resources belong to all of us, not to any one group” — Dr. Jemison (source here)
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations…If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out … You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.” — Dr. Jemison (source here)
The video above is Dr. Jemison’s 2002 TEDTalk on teaching arts and sciences together. Oh my goodness — she is incredible! Really — watch this. Seriously. She really is an artist AND a scientist.
Dr. Jemison reiced her medical degree from Cornell and practices in several countries. Dr. Jemison was the first African-American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program in 1987. On September 12, 1992, Jemision flew into space with six other astronauts on the Endeavor.
“Some people are just negative,” says Hale. “They’ll try to shut your dreams down. I’ve always believed that I, along with other people, could change the world for Christ.”
Dr. Hale is an inspirational person to me, in the scheme of my own life. She was one of the pioneering women who continued to integrate my undergraduate college of Hollins University; she is a fellow sorority sister in Alpha Kappa Alpha, and she has embraced her political beliefs. Dr. Hale stumped for President Obama during his first run in 2008, was invited to give the Invocation on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in 2008, and was invited to read the scripture at the National Prayer Service for the Inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 (see video above). I remember meeting her for the first time while presenting as the SGA Vice President to the Alumnae Board which she was a member of at the time. She knew my parents growing up, and took some time to talk to me and encourage me to continue moving forward. It was inspirational to see such an incredible Hollins women, who happened to look like me. Don’t get me wrong — my undergraduate institution is filled with women who are going places (as our tag line says); but not very many of them look like I do. So it was an honor to get to see that women who look like me also get to go places.
Althea Gibson: The Tennis Pioneer
“People thought I was ruthless, which I was. I didn’t give a darn who was on the other side of the net. I’d knock you down if you got in my way.” — Althea Gibson
“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” — Althea Gibson (source HERE)
Zora Neale Hurston: Author
“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How canany deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” –Zora Neale Hurston (source here)
Born in Alabama on January 7, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston spent her early adulthood studying at various universities and collecting folklore from the South, the Caribbean and Latin America. She published her findings in Mules and Men. Hurston was a fixture of the Harlem Renaissance, rubbing shoulders with many of its famous writers. In 1937, she published her masterwork of fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston died in Florida in 1960.
“I don’t have a martyr complex; I’m fighting because I want to live. Living in this system has not been life for me. But I cant take someone else’s life knowingly. I thought we were going to Mississippi because people have been getting killed there for years and no one cared. I thought we were going there to say to the world that if any of us dies, it was not a redneck who shot us but the whole society that had us killed.” – Prathia Hall , Freedom Rider (1964) (from PBS’s This Far By Faith: A Faith Forged in Albany)
“Prathia Hall is the one platform speaker I would prefer not to follow.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (from PBS’s This Far By Faith: Prathia Hall)
*Welcome to Black History Month (more will be discussed on this later). As a proud African-American, I plan to highlight the women who made critical impacts in black history and paved the way for me to be able to do the things that I have done and will do today. They may be activist for equality, women’s rights, pioneers, educators, figures in black feminism (yes we had to even create our own piece of feminism!) so on. If you have a woman you would like to see highlighted this month — do let me know.
If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.” —Sojourner Truth