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But these contemporary icons are far from the first influential Black women in history who made lasting change in the United States. The ground-breaking firsts stretch back centuries, beyond Rosa Parks and Katherine Johnson — one of the mathematicians for NASA who had a hand in sending Americans to space for the first time.

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Nadia Valentine, a former broadcasting major at Drake University, emphasized the importance of remembering ificant Black figures from the past in an interview with Teen Vogue. Nadia, who is Black, said her mother, who is white, used to ask her to spend time looking up influential Black historical figures after school during every Black History Month.

At the time, Nadia might have preferred to play outside. But she says she's grateful to her mom because it helped her realize all the things she had the potential to create. Here are 12 Black women whose advancements transformed history. Mary McLeod Bethune knew that education was key, but she also knew it was difficult for young Black children to achieve, particularly in the segregated South.

After struggling to go to school and working on a plantation to help support her family, she became an educator and, infounded the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute for Girls, according to PBS.

Her educational activism and leadership set her up to be a political activist. Roosevelt's administrationwhere she served as the informal "race leader at large.

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Though we've all heard the story of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, most of us don't know that Colvin did the same thing — nine months before Parks did. She was only 15 at the time, and was one of the first Black activists to openly challenge the law. Before Mary Kay, there was Madam C. Walker is widely regarded as one of the first ever self-made American, female millionaires. She created hair-care solutions and remedies with Black women in mind and sold them door-to-door.

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She eventually created a brand people recognized, widely manufactured her products, and hired 40, ambassadors since the company's inception to help her sell her products, according to Mic. Like Walker, Newman gravitated toward a career involving the hair-care industry. Newman got a patent for her invention, the first synthetic hairbrushin Her innovation allowed for easier access to the bristles in order to clean out the brush.

In addition, she introduced synthetic bristles. Her invention made brushing long locks a more hygienic process. Her activism started at just six-years-old. Inshe was the first Black child to racially integrate an all-white elementary school in the South. On her first day of school at William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana, she had to be escorted through an angry crowd of white parents and students by four federal marshals. Hamer was a civil rights activist from Mississippi who fought for African Americans' right to voteoften helping them to register. She worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for a time, fighting against racial segregation and violent voter suppression in the South.

She was also one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

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At the time, it was illegal to serve openly LGBTQ people alcohol or for them to dance with one another. Raids at bars occurred regularly. In the summer ofpolice officers clashed with patrons at Manhattan's Stonewall Inn — but they fought back, leading to days of demonstrations that kicked off the LGBTQ movement as we know it today. The actual identity of who threw the first brick is still debatablebut some people credit Johnson as the person who may have been the one to do it.

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Chisholm made history by Black female for fun the first Black woman elected to Congress in She served as a representative from New York for 14 years, advocating for early education and child welfare policies. She eventually ran for president as a Democrat in the race, becoming the first Black candidate to run for a major party nomination.

Jemison made out-of-this-world progress for Black women. Inshe became the first Black woman to fly to space on the space shuttle Endeavour. She was also the first Black woman admitted to the astronaut training program, in But sci-fi novelist Octavia Butler utilized the slogan, likely drawing on Reagan's campaign message, "Let's Make America Great Again" almost 20 years before Trump in her book Parable of the Talents, according to Fusion. The dystopian novel depicts a future United States in which slavery has been reintroduced and a fundamentalist Christian sect has taken control, systematically purging the country of non-Christian faiths.

Butler was also an award-winning Black writer — the first science fiction writer to be awarded the MacArthur fellowship, also known as the genius grant, among other awards, The New York Times reported. What would this list be without Michelle?

Of her many accomplishmentsObama was the first Black woman to serve as the First Lady of the United States and is an accomplished lawyer who attended both Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She's held high-profile roles at the University of Chicago Medical Center and launched a of efforts advocating for childhood health. Mae Jemison Jemison made out-of-this-world progress for Black women. Keywords black history month hidden figures black women in history madam cj walker marsha p.

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Black Women In History: 12 Icons Who Changed the United States