Famous African American Women Who Are Now An Inspiration To Many

It is amazing as to how women have broken all barriers of patriarchy and have achieved quite a lot in recent times. Be it politics, sports, science, cinema or any field for that matter, women have often proved that they are no less achievers than their male counterparts. African American women, in particular, deserve a special mention for their achievements. Racial discrimination is a big challenge which many members of this community had to face years ago and it’s amazing how these women fought against all odds to achieve their dreams. Some of these individuals are role models to many girls today. Noted entrepreneur and beautician Madame C.J Walker is a woman who needs to be applauded for her efforts to make every woman beautiful. This underprivileged woman went on to introduce a range of beauty products and proved that nothing can stop a person if he/she is determined. During recent times, former American first lady Michelle Obama, model and television personality Tyra Banks, noted singer Beyonce and Tennis star Serena Williams are a few influential women, who are widely admired world over. Tyra Banks is considered one of the greatest fashion icons of recent times. Beyonce isn’t just a heartthrob for her singing skills, but is also a favorite among the youth for her gorgeous looks. We have enlisted several such great achievers belonging to the African American community just for you. Their journeys have been incredible and might just inspire you to reach for the stars.
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 1 
Mariah Carey
(First Artist to Have Her First Five Singles Reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100)
Mariah Carey
154
Birthdate: March 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntington, New York, United States

Known for her five-octave vocal range and melismatic singing style, singer-songwriter Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She holds the record for the most number-one singles by a solo artist and a female songwriter. She was ranked second on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music in 2012. 

 2 
Halle Berry
(Only African-American Woman To Win Oscar for Best Actress)
Halle Berry
149
Birthdate: August 14, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Halle Berry is one of the most popular actresses of the current generation. During the 2000s, she was one of the highest-paid Hollywood actresses. Halle is also known for her activism for which she was honored with the 2006 Woman of The Year award by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. She also gets featured in several Sexiest Women lists.

 3 
Alicia Keys
(Singer, Actress)
Alicia Keys
87
Birthdate: January 25, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hell's Kitchen, New York, United States

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has been active in the music industry since the mid-1990s. Her debut album was a super hit and earned her five Grammy Awards. She is one of the best-selling artists in the United States and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She is also known for her humanitarian work, philanthropy, and activism.

 4 
Rosa Parks
(American Activist in the Civil Rights Movement Best Known for Her Pivotal Role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott)
Rosa Parks
63
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: February 4, 1913
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tuskegee, Alabama, United States
Died: October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks, “the first lady of civil rights,” was a pioneer in the American revolution against color segregation and racism. Her refusal to leave her bus seat to a white passenger gave rise to the iconic Montgomery Bus Boycott, which also led her to work with Martin Luther King Jr.

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 5 
Venus Williams
(One of the Greatest Tennis Players of All Time)
Venus Williams
68
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: June 17, 1980
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lynwood, California, United States

Regarded as one of the greatest women's tennis players of all time, Venus Williams is credited with introducing never seen before power and athleticism to women's tennis along with her sister Serena. She is also credited with changing the long-standing practice of paying male tennis players more than their female counterparts as she won the fight for equal prize money.

 6 
Sasha Banks
(Professional Wrestler and First Women to Compete in a 'Hell in a Cell' Match)
Sasha Banks
87
Birthdate: January 26, 1992
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fairfield, California, United States

One of the most popular female WWE wrestlers of the current generation, Sasha Banks was named the top black wrestler in a list titled BW 500 in 2020. A celebrated wrestler, she was involved in the first Iron Woman match, first women's WWE pay-per-view event, and first women's Hell in a Cell match.

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 7 
Zoë Kravitz
(Actress Best Known for Her Role in 'The Divergent' and 'Fantastic Beasts' Film Series)
Zoë Kravitz
108
Birthdate: December 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Venice, Los Angeles, California, United States

Actress, singer, and model Zoë Kravitz first gained prominence for her role in the superhero film X-Men: First Class in the early 2010s. She is the daughter of actor parents and her entry into Hollywood is hardly surprising. Besides acting, she also works as a fashion model and musician. As a singer, she is involved with the band Lolawolf.

 8 
Erykah Badu
(Singer-Songwriter Know for Her Singles like "On & On," "Honey," and "The Healer.")
Erykah Badu
36
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: February 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

Widely regarded as the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter whose debut studio album Baduizm helped popularize neo-soul in the late-1990s. Thanks to her popularity, Erykah Badu serves as a subject for street art in several places, including Greater London, England. Also an actress, Badu has appeared in popular films, such as The Cider House Rules.

 9 
Jhené Aiko
(Singer-Songwriter Known for Her Songs ‘The Worst’ and ‘Sail Out’)
Jhené Aiko
29
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: March 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

American singer and songwriter Jhené Aiko's musical style is associated with PBR&B, a new wave of music viewed as an alternative to contemporary R&B. Her personal life, which includes an early pregnancy at the age of 20, the death of her brother Miyagi, a major car accident, and troubled relationships, has not affected her impressive music career.

 10 
Laila Ali
(One of the Greatest Female Boxers of All Time)
Laila Ali
41
Birthdate: December 30, 1977
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Miami Beach, Florida, United States

Laila Ali is an American former professional boxer. The daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali competed from 1999 to 2007, during which she remained undefeated. She is also credited with saving wrestling legend Hulk Hogan's life by calling him when he was suicidal and depressed. After retiring from professional boxing, Laila Ali became a television personality.

 11 
Gladys Knight
(Singer-Songwriter)
Gladys Knight
25
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Height: 5'3" (160 cm)
 12 
Rashida Jones
(Actress, Writer & Producer, Best Known for Starring on the Comedy Series 'Parks and Recreation')
Rashida Jones
46
Birthdate: February 25, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

An actress, director, writer, and producer, Rashida Jones is a multi-talented woman who first gained prominence as a TV actress. A Harvard University graduate, the bright young woman entered the entertainment industry in the mid-1990s and has since made a name for herself. She is the recipient of several awards including a Grammy.

 13 
Nina Simone
(One of the Most Influential Musical Artists of the 20th Century)
Nina Simone
33
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: February 21, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tryon, North Carolina, United States
Died: April 21, 2003

Widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Nina Simone was a pioneering recording artist whose career was characterized by improvisational genius and fits of outrage. Nina continues to be an important musician and has influenced several artists like Elton John, Adele, David Bowie, Madonna, and Aretha Franklin. She was also a civil rights activist.

 14 
Brandy Norwood
(Singer-Songwriter and Actress Know for Her Single ‘The Boy Is Mine’ and Her Role in the Sitcom 'Moesha')
Brandy Norwood
55
Birthdate: February 11, 1979
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: McComb, Mississippi, United States

The singer of chartbuster songs like The Boy Is Mine, I Wanna be Down and Sittin' Up in My Room, Brandy Norwood is known for her raspy and husky voice. Most of her songs are about love, relationships and heartache. She was involved in a car accident in 2006, leading to multiple lawsuits, which were eventually settled out of court.

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 15 
Toni Morrison
(Novelist)
Toni Morrison
46
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: February 18, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lorain, Ohio
Died: August 5, 2019
Author, editor, and Princeton professor Toni Morrison is best remembered for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved, part of a trilogy. Some of her other notable works include The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon. She received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. She also wrote several children’s books and plays.
 16 
Kerry Washington
(Actress and Producer Famous for Her Portrayal of ‘Olivia Pope’ in the Drama Series ‘Scandal’)
Kerry Washington
35
Birthdate: January 31, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

American actress, Kerry Washington, attained fame when she starred in the television series, Scandal, which ran from 2012 to 2018. She was also commended for her role in the television film, Confirmation, and for the miniseries, Little Fires Everywhere. She has also acted in films like The Last King of Scotland, Django Unchained, Our Song, The Dead Girl and American Son.

 17 
Ida B. Wells
(Women's Rights Activist and Civil Rights Leader)
Ida B. Wells
21
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: July 16, 1862
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Holly Springs, Mississippi, United States
Died: March 25, 1931
Civil rights and women's rights activist Ida B. Wells is remembered for speaking up against the lynching of Blacks in the U.S. She was born a slave and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. She later co-founded the NAACP. She also co-owned and wrote for Memphis Free Speech and Headlight.
 18 
Saweetie
(Rapper and Songwriter Known for Her Single ‘Icy Grl’)
Saweetie
40
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: July 2, 1993
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Santa Clara, California, United States

Saweetie is an American rapper gained recognition when she posted her debut single Icy Grl on SoundCloud. Subsequently, the video of the song broke the internet as it went on to gather 100 million views on YouTube. She was then signed by Warner Records, which increased her popularity. She is also signed to Artistry Worldwide, her manager Max Gousse's record label.

 19 
Condoleezza Rice
(66th United States Secretary of State (2005-09))
Condoleezza Rice
38
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, United States

The 66th United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made history in 2005 when she became the first female black Secretary of State. She is also the first female to serve as National Security Advisor, a position which she served from 2001 to 2005. One of the most powerful women in the world at one point of time, she has been depicted in Hollywood films.

 20 
Octavia Spencer
(The First Black Actress to Have Received two Successive Nominations at the Oscars)
Octavia Spencer
48
Birthdate: May 25, 1970
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States

Octavia Spencer is an American actress, producer, and author. Widely regarded as one of the best actresses of her generation, Spencer has received several prestigious awards, such as a Golden Globe Award, Academy Award, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Octavia Spencer is the first black actress to have received two successive nominations at the Oscars.

 21 
Donna Summer
(Singer-Songwriter)
Donna Summer
20
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: December 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 17, 2012
Height: 5'7" (170 cm)
 22 
Vanessa Williams
26
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: March 18, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 23 
Zora Neale Hurston
(Folklorist, Anthropologist)
Zora Neale Hurston
21
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

 24 
Ruby Bridges
(Philanthropist)
Ruby Bridges
36
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: September 8, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tylertown
American civil rights activist Ruby Bridges became the first African-American child to attend an all-white educational institute when she joined the Louisiana-based William Frantz Elementary School in November 1960. She was the subject of Norman Rockwell’s painting The Problem We All Live With and the TV movie Ruby Bridges.
 25 
Coretta Scott King
(Civil-Rights Activist and the Wife of Martin Luther King Jr)
Coretta Scott King
20
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: April 27, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Heiberger, Alabama, United States
Died: January 30, 2006

The American civil rights activist was an ideal foil for her famous husband Martin Luther King Jr. in promoting racial equality. The author and singer led the Women's Movement and fought for the rights of the LGBT community. She was also known for mobilising African-Americans during the 1960 US presidential election. She founded the King Centre, a not-for-profit organization.

 26 
Ashanti
(Singer-songwriter and Actress Know for Her Hit Song "Foolish")
Ashanti
31
Birthdate: October 13, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Glen Cove, New York, United States

Ashanti is an American singer, record producer, songwriter, model, and actress. A talented musician, Ashanti became the first woman to occupy the number one and number two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Also known for her humanitarian work, Ashanti works tirelessly towards several causes, including raising awareness about issues pertaining to domestic violence.

 27 
Kelly Rowland
(Singer-Songwriter and Member of One of the Best-Selling Girl Groups of All Time ‘Destiny's Child’)
Kelly Rowland
32
Birthdate: February 11, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Four-time Grammy-winning artist Kelly Rowland was part of the R&B group Destiny’s Child, along with Beyoncé. Kelly has also had a successful solo career and has starred in films such as Freddy vs. Jason. She has been a judge on The X Factor and a coach on The Voice

 28 
Solange Knowles
(Singer, Songwriter & Performance Artist)
Solange Knowles
32
Birthdate: June 24, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Solange Knowles, younger sister of pop star Beyoncé Knowles, initially performed as a back-up dancer and wrote songs for Beyoncé’s band Destiny's Child. She has delivered Grammy-winning tracks such as Cranes in the Sky and has also won an Impact Award. She also owns a hip-hop-themed children’s merchandise brand.
 29 
Vivica A. Fox
(Actress)
Vivica A. Fox
26
Birthdate: July 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: South Bend, Indiana, United States
Height: 5'7" (170 cm)
 30 
Leslie Jones
(Stand-up Comedian)
Leslie Jones
49
Birthdate: September 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
 31 
Renee Elise Goldsberry
13
Birthdate: January 2, 1971
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States

Actress, singer, and songwriter, Renee Elise Goldsberry, is a popular figure in Broadway theater. She is best known for her role in the musical Hamilton, for which she won a Tony Award. She is also active in films and TV shows. As a singer and songwriter, she is the winner of one Grammy Award. 

 32 
Jackie Joyner-Kersee
(One of the Greatest Female Athletes of All-Time)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee
11
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: March 3, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: East St. Louis, Illinois, United States

The first to score over 7,000 points in the heptathlon, Jackie Joyner-Kersee is considered by many as one of the greatest female athletes ever. While in school, she excelled in sports such as volleyball, basketball, and track, and also did well in studies. She later won three Olympic golds medals.

 33 
Jordin Sparks
(Pop Singer Who Became Famous at Age Seventeen When She Won Season Six of 'American Idol')
Jordin Sparks
32
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: December 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Jordin Sparks was the youngest American Idol winner, at 17. She released Billboard Hot 100-charting singles such as Tattoo and No Air, the latter with Chris Brown. Named to VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Music list, she has also launched her own perfume and performed on stage and on screen.
 34 
Mae Jemison
(First African American Woman To Travel To Space)
Mae Jemison
30
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 17, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Decatur, Alabama, United States

Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to fly into space, as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. A qualified physician, she has served as a Peace Corps doctor, too. She has written several books and established a non-profit and a tech research organization.

 35 
Lisa Leslie
(Basketball player)
Lisa Leslie
11
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: July 7, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Compton, California, United States
Height: 6'5" (196 cm)
 36 
Alice Walker
(The First African-American Woman to Win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
Alice Walker
14
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: February 9, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Eatonton, Georgia, United States
Author Alice Walker is best known for her National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple. She is credited with coining the term womanist, to mean feminist of color. Her marriage with Melvyn Roseman Leventhal was the first official interracial marriage in the state of Mississippi.
 37 
Bessie Coleman
(American Civil Aviator and the First African-American Woman to Hold a Pilot License)
Bessie Coleman
32
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: January 26, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Atlanta, Texas, United States
Died: April 30, 1926

Bessie Coleman was an American civil aviator and the first African-American woman to hold a pilot license. Nicknamed Queen Bess, Coleman became a high-profile pilot in the air shows organized in the United States. Bessie Coleman died at the age of 34 in a plane crash. Her efforts to promote aviation inspired the Native American communities.

 38 
Althea Gibson
( The First African American to Win a Grand Slam Title )
Althea Gibson
26
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: August 25, 1927
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Clarendon County, South Carolina, United States
Died: September 28, 2003
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 39 
Lorraine Hansberry
(Writer, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Human rights activist)
Lorraine Hansberry
8
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 12, 1965

Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and playwright best remembered for her play A Raisin in the Sun which emphasizes the plight of African-Americans living under racial segregation. At the age of 29, Lorraine Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, becoming the youngest playwright and the first African-American dramatist to win the prestigious award.

 40 
Mary McLeod Bethune
(American Civil Rights Activist and Founder of the 'National Council of Negro Women')
Mary McLeod Bethune
17
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: July 10, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mayesville, South Carolina, United States
Died: May 18, 1955

Mary McLeod Bethune was an American civil rights activist, educator, womanist, humanitarian, and philanthropist. She is credited with founding the National Council of Negro Women. Bethune also played a key role in the creation of the Black Cabinet while serving as an adviser to Franklin Roosevelt. In 1973, Bethune was made an indutee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 41 
Monica
(Singer)
Monica
16
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: October 24, 1980
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: College Park, Georgia, United States
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 42 
Ava DuVernay
(Filmmaker)
Ava DuVernay
15
Birthdate: August 24, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States
 43 
Leontyne Price
(The First African-American Opera Singer to Achieve International Fame)
Leontyne Price
9
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: February 10, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Laurel, Mississippi, United States

Multiple Grammy-winning legendary opera singer and musical diva Leontyne Price became the first singer of African-American origin who achieved international fame in opera. She soared to fame with her appearance in the TV production of Tosca and later performed at iconic venues, such as London’s Royal Opera House.

 44 
Brandi Rhodes
(American Professional Wrestler)
Brandi Rhodes
9
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: June 23, 1983
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Canton, Michigan, United States
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 45 
Butterfly McQueen
(Actress)
Butterfly McQueen
5
Birthdate: January 7, 1911
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tampa, Florida, United States
Died: December 22, 1995
Height: 5'1" (155 cm)
 46 
Betty Shabazz
(Educator and Activist Best Known as the Wife of African-American Activist Malcolm X)
Betty Shabazz
10
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: May 28, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pinehurst, Georgia, United States
Died: June 23, 1997

Civil rights activist and educator Betty Shabazz, or Betty X, was the wife of Black nationalist leader Malcolm X. Raised by her adoptive parents in Detroit, she met Malcolm X at a Nation of Islam event in Harlem. She died when her apartment was set on fire set by her grandson.

 47 
Bianca Belair
(American Professional Wrestler)
Bianca Belair
20
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 9, 1989
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Height: 5'7" (170 cm)
 48 
Harris Faulkner
(News Anchor)
Harris Faulkner
22
Birthdate: October 13, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Newscaster and TV host, Harris Faulkner, is currently associated with  Fox News Channel.  She hosts her own prime time political franchise called Town Hall America with Harris Faulkner and also a daily daytime show The Faulkner Focus. A much-respected figure in the TV industry, she is the recipient of six Emmy Awards and the Amelia Earhart Pioneering Lifetime Achievement Award. 

 49 
Ilhan Omar
(Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota's 5th District)
Ilhan Omar
80
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: October 4, 1982
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia

Ilhan Omar became the first woman of color to serve as Minnesota's representative in the United States Congress when she was elected in 2019. A popular and influential politician, she supports universal healthcare, affordable housing, and student loan debt forgiveness. Also a human rights and LGBT rights activist, she was featured in Maroon 5's Girls Like You music video.

 50 
Orlando Brown
(Actor, Voice Actor, Singer)
Orlando Brown
15
Birthdate: December 4, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Orlando Brown is an American actor, singer, and rapper. After starting his career as a child actor, Brown went on to establish himself in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, his personal life, entangled with legal issues, has overshadowed his professional achievements so far. He has been arrested several times with various charges.