Hallefrickinglujah for Lizzo. The lyrically gifted activist-entertainer is a bold and beautiful example of how far we’ve come as women. And, ahem, there is no Lizzo without these five women …
Talk about confidence and determination. Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama owns the fact that the more popular you become, the more hatred you’ll experience — and pushes through despite it anyway.
In her bestselling memoir, Becoming, she tells her story of growing up on the Southside of Chicago, attending Princeton and Harvard, and becoming one of the most well-known public figures in the world.
“One of the lessons I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals,” says Michelle Obama. “When I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”
Toni Morrison (RIP), constantly reminded us to hold our heads high — through her actions and her words. A feminist icon, she obtained her master’s degree from Cornell and became a Howard University professor. In the late 1960s, she became the first black female fiction editor at Random House, and went on to become one of the most acclaimed figures in examining the black and black female experience.
Her masterpiece, Beloved, earned her a Pulitzer Prize and an American Book Award in 1988. Her powerful story about slavery was adapted into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover a decade later. In 1993, Toni Morrison was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and later on she was selected for the Jefferson Lecture, receiving the highest honor for her accomplishments in the field.
Susan L. Taylor is often referred to as one of the most powerful women in media. At 23, she started as the Beauty Editor of Essence, then a small magazine, and over the course of 27 years, moved up to the top ranks and built Essence into a powerhouse and influential brand for women of color.
Susan, 74, is now devoted to building National CARES Mentoring Movement, and organization that aims to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty among African Americans. A community-mobilization movement, National CARES is the only organization dedicated to providing mentoring, healing and wellness services on a national scale for Black children.
Where do you begin with one of the boldest and most prolific women in music? Often referred to as The Queen of RocknRoll, Tina Turner and has sold more than 200 million records worldwide.
Now 80, Turner endured a rocky childhood involving an abusive father, and in the 1950s she rose to fame with hits like “Proud Mary” with her husband Ike Turner, in Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Tina left Ike in the 1970s after years of domestic abuse and adultery, with less than a dollar to her name. She went on to build an extremely successful solo career and sold more than 20 million copies of Private Dancer, the album she launched in her mid-40s.
In later life, Tina forgave Ike, but declared loudly that should wold not work with him. “He asked for one more tour with me, and I said, ‘No, absolutely not.’ Ike wasn’t someone you could forgive and allow him back in,” she said in The Times.
In 2008, Tina Turner announced her final tour, which became one of the highest-selling ticketed shows of 2008 and 2009.
As the first black woman to travel into space, Dr. Mae Jemison is a pioneering force and inspiration for women in science. Jemison flew her only space mission in 1992, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, a cooperative mission between the United States and Japan.
In the years since her eight-day orbit in space, Dr. Jemison has funneled her stature to drive activist causes. She’s served on the board of directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation and as director at Dartmouth’s Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. She’s written several books, and in 1996, Jemison filed a complaint against a Texas police officer, accusing him of police brutality during a traffic stop that ended in her arrest.