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BLACK WOMEN IN HISTORY


African-American Women Who Changed the World


Shirley Chisholm Shirley Chisholm (Nov. 30, 1924–Jan.


1, 2005) was the first African-American woman elected to the US Congress. Shir- ley Anita St. Hill was born in Brooklyn, New York. After being a teacher and serv- ing as a New York state assemblywoman, Chisolm was elected as a Democrat to the House of Representatives. She served in Congress for seven terms, from January 3, 1969, until January 3, 1983. In 1972, Ch- isholm was the first African-American woman to run for a major-party presiden- tial nomination. During her long political career, she fought for the rights of women and minorities.


Sarah E. Goode Sarah E. Goode was a businesswoman


and inventor. Goode invented the folding cabinet bed, a space-saver that folded up against the wall into a cabinet. When fold- ed up, it could be used as a desk, complete with compartments for stationery and writing supplies. Goode owned a furniture store in Chicago, Illinois, and invented the bed for people living in small apartments. Goode’s patent was the first one obtained by an African-American woman inventor (patent #322,177, approved on July 14, 1885).


Madam C. J. Walker Madam C. J. Walker (December 23,


1867–May 25, 1919) was an inventor, businesswoman and self-made million- aire. Sarah Breedlove McWilliams C. J. Walker was an African-American who de- veloped many beauty and hair care prod- ucts that were extremely popular. Madam Walker started her cosmetics business in 1905. Her first product was a scalp treat- ment that used petrolatum and sulphur. She added Madam to her name and began selling her new “Walker System” door-to- door. Walker soon added new cosmetic


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Mae C. Jemison, first African-American woman in space


products to her line. The products were very successful and she soon had many saleswomen, called “Walker Agents,” who sold her products door to door and to beauty salons.


Oprah Winfrey One of the most influential African-


American women, Oprah Winfrey (born January 29, 1954) is truly a source of in- spiration for many and has touched mil- lions of lives with her work. Oprah has achieved many “famous firsts” by being the first African-American syndicated talk show host, or by being the first African- American woman billionaire. Oprah owns her own production house, which is re- sponsible for the Oprah Winfrey show, the


O Magazine, Oxygen Network, Oprah’s Angel Networks, and the famous Oprah Book Club. In 1993, Oprah also cam- paigned for a special bill called the “Oprah bill,” aimed at providing a national data- base of convicted child abusers. Oprah has been a part of several movies and tele- vision productions. Through her success and popularity, she makes significant con- tributions to social improvement and sup- ports various causes, especially in educa- tion. Oprah’s Angel Network contributes $100,000 awards to people who are help- ing others in significant ways. Oprah won a lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1998, and in 2008 TIME Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th


century.


We are each responsible for our own life— no other person is or even can be.


~ Oprah Winfrey CELEBRATING 11 YEARS OF DIVERSITY PROFESSIONAL WOMAN’S MULTICULTURAL MAGAZINE 57


Mae C. Jemison Mae C. Jemison (born October 17,


1956) was the first African-American woman in space. Dr. Jemison is a medical doctor and a surgeon, with engineering experience. She flew on the space shuttle Endeavor (STS-47, Spacelab-J) as the Mission Specialist; the mission lifted off on September 12, 1992, and landed on September 20, 1992.


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