Strong Black Women Past and Present

If I wish I’d had more role models in my life, I know my female, African-American friends had that same wish. Yet they had fewer role models to see in history or daily life. and, I hope, fulfill other young women’s need for role models. The women below are black women I have featured on my blog or women I’ve quoted. I featured and quoted them not because they were black but because they are strong women, both the world and my history books ignored. They are women I consider role models. Today I feature them because they are Black. A distinction that means they were doubly ignored and had to be stronger, more determined, and more courageous than many others. They are more than Strong Black Women. They are inspirations.

The First African-American Professional Nurse

Black and white photograph  portrait of  Mary Mahoney in her nurse's cap  and nurses whites with a fringed scarf tied in a bow at her collar.

Mary Mahoney (1845-1926) made history as the first African-American Professional Nurse , yet many do not know her name. A strong woman, Mahoney, became a nurse despite severe societal limitations placed on black and minority women. She braved discrimination and worked toward equality for black and minority nurses and women.

She means it doesn’t come off, Dana… The black. She means the devil with people who say you’re anything but what you are.”

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

She Refused to be Silenced

Photo portrait of Lucy Parsons has her sitting in profile with her face turned toward the camera. She wears a victorian striped dress and a medium brimmed hat with feathers.. She's one of many strong black women we should have learned about in school.

Lucy Parsons (1853-1942) is a woman of history in my ongoing examination of “Strong Women.” Parsons, the “Queen of Anarchy,” was a woman of contradictions. The Chicago police department considered her “more dangerous than 1000 rioters.” surveilled her, arrested her, and fined her over and over. Yet, she refused to be silenced.

I whimpered, biting my lip. ‘I’m here, I’m here, I’m here,’ I whispered. Because I was and there was no way out.”

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

She Lights the Way

Photograph portrait of Mary McLeod Bethune, one of many strong black women, she was a child of former slaves  and grew to be an educator and civil rights leader.

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) was an extraordinary woman, an educator, and a civil rights leader. A child of former slaves, she grew from poverty and ignorance into a woman who changed her world. Most of all, she lights the way even after death. 

Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.”

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Zero Tolerance for Discrimination

Photograph of Stormé DeLaverie  in a tuxedo and her performance.

Her mother was a black servant in her white father’s household. Stormé DeLaverie (day-la-vee-ay) (1920-2014) was an entertainer, a bouncer, an activist, and a drag king with zero tolerance for discrimination.

Being brave isn’t the same as being okay.”

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, 

Nonviolent, She Made a Difference

Color photograph portrait of Dorothy Cotton smiling into the camera. She is one of many strong black women.

Dorothy Cotton (January 5, 1930–June 10, 2018) was born at the beginning of the depression. No one could have predicted the woman she became. Nonviolent, she made a difference in the U.S. civil rights movement and in the world.

Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Maid Who Fought Back

Image of a protest sign that reads "no contract, no peace" alongside the title "Hattie Canty, The Maid Who Fought Back"

Hattie Canty (1934-2012) rose from an Alabama girl to a maid to an African-American labor activist. She was the maid who fought back, the maid who eventually ensured that Las Vegas workers in the hospitality business made a living wage.

For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.” 

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Grateful for Strong Black Women

I’m grateful for Black History Month. Grateful to be given the extra push to learn more, to recognize the determination, strength, and the courage of these women, to see and help others see these strong Black women. For more Inspirational Black Women in History, go to PBS.  

Which Strong Black Women would you add to this list?

Image Credits

First Image by Leroy Skalstad from Pixabay

Black Women You Should Know

Women have long been ignored by history. Add in a minority skin color or race or religion and they are even less likely to be remembered. And that is a shame. Black women are making and have made history. From long past to current history makers, from the music room to the boardroom to the court room to the tennis court, here are 41 black women you should know.

Photo of young and middle aged black women sitting around a conference table in a business office, even these are black women you should know

We will all, at some point, encounter hurdles to gaining access and entry, moving up and conquering self-doubt; but on the other side is the capacity to own opportunity and tell our own story.” Stacey Abrams, an American politician, lawyer, voting rights activist, and author.

“Don’t let anything stop you. There will be times when you’ll be disappointed, but you can’t stop.” Sadie T. M. Alexander,  an American lawyer who was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in economics in the United States, and the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

“Won’t it be wonderful when black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.” Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. 

Restored portrait photo of Mary McLeod Bethune-one of many black women you should know from history

“Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough.Mary McLeod Bethune,  an American educator, philanthropist, humanitarian, womanist, and civil rights activist.

“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” Carol Moseley-Braun, politician and lawyer.

“Do not desire to fit in. Desire to oblige yourselves to lead.” Gwendolyn Brooks, American poet, author, and teacher, the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize (1950).

“Women must become revolutionary. This cannot be evolution but revolution.” Shirley Chisholm, an American politician— the first black woman elected to the United States Congress(1968), educator, and author.

”We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.” Yvette Clarke,  an American politician

“The air is the only place free from prejudice.” Bessie Coleman, an early American civil aviator, the first African-American woman and first Native American to hold a pilot license.

“I knew then and I know now, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it.” Claudette Colvin,  an American pioneer of the 1950s civil rights movement and retired nurse aide.

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” Angela Davis, an American political activist, philosopher, academic, scholar, and author.

“As black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences — experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as black women is take the worst situations and create from that point. Viola Davis, an American actress and producer.

“When we’re talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us.” Ava DuVernay, an American filmmaker.

Photo of Ella Fitzgerald singing in a club filled with black men. Ella Fitzgerald is one of many black women you should know

“Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Ella Fitzgerald, an American jazz singer, the “First Lady of Song”

“When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.” Fannie Lou Hamer, an American voting, civil rights, and women’s rights activist

“There is no vaccine for racism.” Kamala Harris, an American politician and attorney, the 49th and current vice president of the United States. 

“Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.” Zora Neale Hurston, American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker.

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut

“I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black; it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.” June Jordan, an American poet, essayist, teacher, and activist.

“Don’t agonize, organize.” Florynce Kennedy, an American lawyer, radical feminist, civil rights advocate, lecturer and activist.

Headshot of Coretta Scott King, wife of activists Martin Luthor King Jr. but one of the black women you should know in her own right

 “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” Coretta Scott King, American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.

“If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.” Beyonce Knowles, an American singer, songwriter, and actress.

“Friendly reminder that you don’t have to say the ‘n word’ to be racist. That’s not the sole requirement. Asking people to prove racism is another tool the oppressor uses to marginalize and discredit us.” Lizzo, nee Melissa Viviane Jefferson, an American singer, rapper, songwriter and flutist.

“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.” Janelle Monáe,  an American singer, rapper, and actress

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Toni Morrison, an American novelist

“There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.” Michelle Obama, an American attorney and author who served as the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017

“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.” Rosa Parks,  an American activist in the civil rights movement

“Black history isn’t a separate history. This is all of our history, this is American history, and we need to understand that. It has such an impact on kids and their values and how they view black people.” Karyn Parsons, an American actress, author and comedian.

“Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” Shonda Rhimes, an American television producer, screenwriter, and author

“I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the color of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay.” Tracee Ellis Ross, nee Tracee Joy Silberstein, an American actress, singer, television host, producer and director.

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” Wilma Rudolph, an American sprinter, who became a world-record-holding Olympic champion and international sports icon in track and field.

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.” Nina Simone, nee Eunice Kathleen Waymon, an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist.

“Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.” Susan L. Taylor, journalist

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman,  an American slave, an abolitionist and political activist.

“Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free . . . your true self comes out.” Tina Turner, an American-born Swiss singer, songwriter and actress.

restored photo of Sojourner Truth sitting in an armchair

“Truth is powerful and it prevails.” Sojourner Truth, an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. 

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker, an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist.

“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” Madam C.J. Walker, an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist, recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in America in the Guinness Book of World

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” Ida B. Wells, an American investigative journalist, educator, and early leader in the civil rights movement

“Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.” Oprah Winfrey, an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist.

I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger.” Serena Williams, an American professional tennis player.

These are but a few of the Black Women You Should Know. Because I’m American, my selections here are American, but there are black women across the world who deserve honors and remembrances. Please take a moment during this Black History Month to remember the black women who have worked quietly behind the scenes as well as those made famous by the actions or words. All women deserve more credit for their contributions to history. Even if their “only” contribution is living their own lives.

Image Credits

Top Photo-women in business by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Second Photo-Mary McLeod Bethune, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Third Photo-Ella Fitzgerald, William P. Gottlieb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Fourth Photo-Coretta Scott King by John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel  Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Photo-Sourjourner Truth , National Portrait Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Motivation for Being A Creative

The journey of being a creative can be like a smooth road. You glide from point A to point B. Most often; it is a bumpy, curvy road with fantastic ideas and poor execution or a mediocre idea and stunning execution. Self-doubt can cause breakdowns (to continue the metaphor). If you choose to be a full-time creative, you need ways to manage the ups and downs, curves, and occasional breakdowns. The best way to do this is to know your what, who, how and why of creativity. Your answers will help motivate and inspire you. Here are some quotes to help you get started or clarify your answers.

Photograph of a needle with multiple, different colored, embroidery threads through the needle demonstrating that Being Creative can be hard.

What is Creativity?

Creativity is more than a definition found in a dictionary.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.”

George Bernard Shaw

Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

Edward de Bono

It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.”

Eric Jerome Dickey

When Can You Be Creative?

Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” Bruce Garrabrandt

Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes a difference.”

Nolan Bushnell 

Who Are Creatives?

photograph of an asian woman wearing glasses lines of computer programming language are on a screen in front of her and reflected in  her glasses. Make room to understand programmers are being a creative too.

There’s room for everybody on the planet to be creative and conscious if you are your own person. If you’re trying to be like somebody else, then there isn’t.

Tori Amos

The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist.”

Ananda Coomaraswamy

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

The creative adult is the child who survived.

Ursula Leguin

How to be Creative

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

Rumi

Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

Tina Turner

Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”

David Lynch

Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos.”

Mary Shelley

Everything you can imagine is real.”

Pablo Picasso

Why Be Creative?

For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.”

Amor Towles

Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living.”

Madeleine L’Engle

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

Kurt Vonnegut
Photograph of a man's hands as he hammers red-hot steel into a blade-he is being a creative, too

Your What, Who, How, and Why Be Creative

Longtime readers of this blog know that helping people find the courage to express their creative side is a passion of mine. For more encouragement read how your creativity doesn’t have to be perfect.

Whether you’ve assessed your what, who, how and why be creative or not, I hope one or two of these quotes gave you creativity a boost today.

What motivates or inspires you on your creative journey?

A Science Fiction First Lines Friday

First Line Friday is a series of blog articles posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online books. Today’s post features Science Fiction first lines. (And maybe a fantasy or two.) Are you hooked?


The cover for Joseph Nassise's book Eyes to See have a young man standing in an alley between tow brick buildings. He's got an electric blue haze around him and his entire eyes are that same blue. This SF & F First line is arresting.

I gave up my eyes in order to see more clearly.

 Eyes to See
(Jeremiah Hunt Book 1)
by Joseph Nassise

Cover image of Lightning Game is of a man looking over his shoulder and hovering in the air behind him is a larger than life face of a young blonde woman.

Rubin Campo stood in front of the small cabin made of mostly broken lumber his brothers and father had dragged or cut from the trees in the forest and pieced together. 

Lightning Game (A GhostWalker Novel Book 17) by Christine Feehan

Cover for the Eye of Elektron has a red-headed woman in the center wearing a off the shoulder metalic bodice and chain mail-like skirt, she has something in her hand that is causing swirls of yellow and red

Dawn knew death awaited her at the hour’s end. 

The Eye of Electron (The Sumrectian Series, Book 1)
by Leigh G. Wynn

Jane strained against the harness as the capsule shuddered around her, craning her neck for a better view of the ship they were hurtling toward. 

Fluency (Confluence Book 1) by Jennifer Foehner Wells

There were quite a few interesting things about Johnnie: replacing his left had was a golden claw, he had no scent detectable to any creature on Earth, and he was the most infamous mercenary in two out of three Confederate states.

Beyond the Last War: The Wayward Mercenary by Claude McKenna

No one could have possibly known what was truly in the container.

Europa Contagion
by Nicholas Thorp

Your name is Emma.”

Emma wiped the tears from her eyes.

Blue are the Hills by Lilly Piper

Charlotte knocked over her plastic model solar system toy when she heard her parents fighting again.

Brazen Planet (Tears of Venus) by Gayle Katz

I knew I was different the moment I awoke…or came online, as the Masters call it. 

Omega Force: Revolution (OF9) by Joshua Dalzelle

Clarification

There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Want to Read More Science Fiction First Lines?

Did you enjoy this list of science fiction first lines? Check out previous First Line Friday posts. You’ll put an enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below— Which ones spoke to you? Did you buy it?

Wishes in the Season of Love, Kindness, and Wisdom

December is coming to a close. Many of you have celebrated holidays or will celebrate holidays over the next nine days. In this season of love, kindness, and wisdom, there are wishes exchanged. No matter which holiday you celebrate, my wish for you is that you find love, kindness, and wisdom here and where ever you are.


Photo is of a guinea  pig with Christmas packages and a Christmas tree in the background a season of love, kindness, and wisdom

Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.

Pindar

Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.

Dale Evans

Photograph of Pine trees in snow

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.”

John Boswell

Kindness is like snow. It beautifies everything it covers.”

Kahlil Gibran

I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.”

Fred Rogers

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Photograph of sliced roast beef, a vegetable medley, mashed potatoes,, and fresh bread-a Christmas feast

Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.”

William Shakespeare

The success of a holiday depends on what you find for yourself on the spot, not what you bring with you.”

Ellis Peters

If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.

Bob Hope

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Mother Theresa

A Little Kindness

This time of year can be joyful, but for some the joy is diminished or even snuffed out. And in this second year of the pandemic, the stress and difficulties of those in our community is great. Take a few moments to volunteer or to donate to the cause of your choice.

If you don’t have a philanthropic choice, consider giving to MOCSA, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. Their mission is to improve the lives of those impacted by sexual abuse and assault and to prevent sexual violence in our community. They do great things in the Kansas City area. If you’d prefer to give to a national organization, I’d like to suggest RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. If you would like to know more go to either website or my post.

Even if you can’t give either money or cash, you can let others know about the necessary and difficult work these organizations do.

Thank you for caring.

Please Note

This site will go dark for the next six days. I am determined that things will go well, and this site will re-open with a new look.

A Seasonal Wish

Many thanks to all who have stuck with me this year. I appreciate your support more than I can say.

I hope this season of holidays has given you, or will give you, a little love, a little kindness, and a little wisdom and plenty of blessings to count.

What are your favorite seasonal words of love, kindness, or wisdom? Please share.