Black women have been inspiring millions for generations
“Saluting our Sisters” is a tribute to the phenomenal, resilient and trailblazing Black women who have played pivotal roles in shaping history, inspiring change and building thriving communities while empowering others. While I reflect on the incredible Black women who have inspired me to pursue greatness, this year, I’m celebrating their contributions and shedding light on some of those whose brilliance and dedication have inspired millions worldwide.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Black women have been breaking barriers in STEM for generations. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, for example, are the brilliant mathematicians portrayed in the movie ‘Hidden Figures’, and remind us of the role Black women played in NASA's early space program. Their ground-breaking work not only sent astronauts into space but also propelled humanity forward.
Closer to home, and familiar to many of us, is Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a renowned space scientist and science communicator. She has made significant contributions to astrophysics and is a prominent advocate for STEM education, especially for underrepresented groups. Through her work, she has inspired countless young people, particularly girls and minorities, to pursue careers in science and technology.
Voices of change
The civil rights movement saw the rise of strong and resilient Black women who became the driving force for change. Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker and Diane Nash were instrumental in organising grassroots movements, mobilising communities and demanding justice. Their unwavering commitment to civil rights illuminated the path toward equality for all.
In the UK we too have been blessed with Black voices of change. Baroness Doreen Lawrence, for example, is a tireless campaigner for justice and racial equality. After the tragic murder of her son, Stephen Lawrence, in 1993, she fought relentlessly for justice for and worked to reform the UK's legal and police systems. Her advocacy led to significant changes in how racially motivated crimes are investigated and prosecuted.
During Black History Month and beyond, it is vital that we honour and celebrate the achievements of Black women, acknowledging the vital role that they and many others have played in advancing social progress, diversity, and inclusion. We salute you. We thank you.Julian McKenzie, Coventry University
In the world of literature, Black women have penned words of inspiration and empowerment that continue to resonate today. Maya Angelou’s poetry and prose have touched the hearts of millions, while Toni Morrison’s novels have challenged and expanded our understanding of identity, race and humanity. Their words have the power to heal and transform.
Despite living in the 19th century, Dr Mary Seacole’s contributions to nursing and healthcare are timeless. Known as the ‘Black Florence Nightingale’ she defied gender and racial barriers to provide medical care to soldiers during the Crimean War. Her legacy continues to inspire nurses and healthcare professionals today.
While there have been so many more trailblazing Black women who have had significant impacts in driving change, the extraordinary examples listed above have shattered glass ceilings, challenged societal norms and tirelessly advocated for a fair and inclusive society. Their contributions, along with many others, have not only shaped the future of their respective fields but have also inspired positive change globally. During Black History Month and beyond, it is vital that we honour and celebrate their achievements, acknowledging the vital role that they and many others have played in advancing social progress, diversity, and inclusion. We salute you. We thank you.