Featured Photo of Angela Davis Provided by History.com

History matters. And much like the Black feminist writer of the Progressive era Ida B. Wells, there are many women activists alive today whose lifetime of literary and on-the-ground work will only be truly appreciated after their deaths, and probably only many decades later. After all, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated at the age of only 39 with the abysmal approval rating of below 25%, but became a national icon fifteen years later.

Today, we want to remedy this American habit, and introduce five top Black female activists of our time, whose sacrifices and hard work for the most underprivileged communities needs to be recognized today:-

1)  Black Lives Matter Founders

Did you know that the era-defining civil rights group Black Lives Matter was founded by three Black women from California? The three community activists: Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi, are all based in California and used their online voice to speak out against the acquittal of George Zimmerman for his unprovoked murder of Treyvon Martin in 2013.

Over the last ten years since, Cullors, Garza, and Tometi have received little coverage in the national spotlight, but continue their grassroots work to further the cause against systemic racism in law enforcement.

2)  Angela Davis

A radical feminist and long-time member of the Communist Party of USA, Dr. Angela Davis belongs to an African-American family from Alabama and has worked tirelessly for causes ranging from anti-conscription protests during the Vietnam War to the Occupy and BDS movements today. Davis is probably best known for her advocacy for the complete abolishment and reworking of the U.S. prison system, given its deeply racist history and collaboration with private capitalists that created the current mass incarceration crisis.

Davis has long been the most prominent voice spreading awareness about the prison-industrial complex. She was named among the 100 most influential people in the world by the Time magazine in 2020.

3)  Michelle Alexander

Another Black woman activist who has devoted a lifetime of work to exposing the racist roots of the American carceral state is Michelle Alexander. Born in Chicago, Alexander started her career as a legal expert and served as the director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU from 1998 to 2005. In this capacity and since, Alexander has been active in advocating for the millions of ostracized Black men whose lives are now controlled by America’s massive carceral system. In 2010, Alexander authored the instant-classic history entitled: “The New Jim Crow”. Since 2018, she has worked as an opinion columnist for The New York Times, and notably contributed to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project”.

Michelle is also the older sister of Leslie Alexander, a professor of Black history and author of a 2008 work on early Black communities in New York.

4)  Michelle Obama

The beloved Black First Lady of the U.S. Michelle Obama is well-recognized because of being the public face of the Obama White House during many of its critical moments. Nonetheless, her own personal contributions to charity causes as well as her inspiring charisma has also left an unmistakable mark on Black and Brown communities for decades to come.

After years of public service, Obama dedicated her years in the White House to promoting girls’ education, fighting childhood obesity, and other innumerable causes. Her auto-biography “Becoming” became an immediate New York Times best-seller in 2018. After six years out of the White House, Michelle Obama is still recognized as one of the most influential Black female activists of our lifetime.

5)  Kimberlé Crenshaw

Another Black feminist author whose work is contributing prominently to social justice causes today is Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, whose name is little known outside the academic circles of legal and sociological theory. Crenshaw is a law professor at the UCLA and Columbia Law School, and hence, one of the most prestigious and influential voices in current debates about racism and legal systems.

A leading scholar of the Critical Race Theory framework, Crenshaw is best known for introducing the ‘intersectionality’ of social identities and systems of oppression as a prominent sociological concept. Her work on intersectional feminism argues that the obstacles faced by women of color like her are not solely the sum of systemic marginalization of women and Black people, but is formed through an intertwined web of experiences, giving rise to a new identity distinct from the sum of its parts. Her work has recently penetrated into the popular culture, providing her and other intersectional feminists with a rare voice in the public sphere.

Anthony Tilghman

Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the...

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