We’ve talked about incredible Black women from the past, now let’s talk about some Black women making history now.
At 12, Pannell was named the national leader of a 47-city wide organization known as Youth Move. She was then focused on younger voting rights, teaching finances earlier, helping the elderly learn new technology, and helping to end childhood obesity. Pannell helped organize a nationwide student walkout to end gun violence in schools. She’s also founded a completely youth-run organization, Tools for Change, that works to provide young people with anything they need. Pannell’s latest cause has been human trafficking, about which she even delivered a TED Talk. She continues her activism as a current student at Duke University.
Author & Activist
A Black transgender activist, Willis uses her voice to elevate the dignity of marginalized people, particularly Black transgender people. She founded Black Trans Circles in 2018 to develop Black trans leadership in the South and Midwest. Willis spoke at the 2017 Women’s March in DC and, in 2020, was named one of Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30. She continues working on specific community initiatives and writing in Essence, Out, and other publications to spread her message.
Olympic Medalist & Activist
A track and field sprinter, Felix was named among Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. And it’s no wonder, as she’s the only female athlete with six Olympic gold medals. Felix’s inspiration doesn’t end there, as she’s become an activist in support of maternal rights. Several years ago, she took on her sponsor, Nike, who threatened to drop her during her pregnancy. After a harrowing delivery experience, Felix realized if she could be in a life-threatening situation with great health care, what could other women, less well-off, especially of color be facing? She’s since been fighting for the rights of mothers everywhere and has partnered with Better Starts for All.
TIME’s 2019 Entertainer of the Year, Lizzo has performed on a worldwide tour, won three Grammys in 2020, and reached many other milestones. Recently, she’s hosted meditation sessions on her social media accounts, to help her fans find a little bit of peace during such a trying time, and selected hospitals around the country at which to provide all staff with meals as they fight on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lizzo also activates her huge fan base, encouraging her fans to donate to causes like the Australian wildfires and pandemic relief.
Dr. Corbett has also been leading vaccine efforts at the National Institute of Health (NIH), and her charismatic and empathetic nature is hoped to be a beacon of trust among the Black community, as skepticism of the vaccine can be widespread.
President and CEO of Time’s Up
Time’s Up — and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund — were launched in January 2018, after reports of abuse and harassment by powerful men in the entertainment industry sparked a reckoning there. The Legal Defense Fund, which is administered by the National Women’s Law Center, has raised more than $22 million to help pay for legal fees for cases involving sexual harassment and work-related retaliation, according to the NWLC.