February is dedicated to the recognition of Black History, and March is dedicated to history of women. As an effort to celebrate both here are a few black women who have shaped our society as leaders.
First, Ella Baker was a Civil Rights Activist who worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Ella Baker started her involvement with political activism in the 1930s. She organized the Young Negroes Cooperative League in New York City, and later became a national director for the NAACP. In 1957, Baker joined the SCLC, whose first president was Martin Luther King, Jr. She also worked with SNCC to support civil rights activism on college campuses. Baker believed in the fight for social justice and equality. With her many years of experience as a protester and organizer, she gave her wise counsel to numerous organizations and causes, including the Third World Women’s Coordinating Committee and the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee. Her life and accomplishments were chronicled in the 1981 documentary Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker. “Fundi” was her nickname, which comes from a Swahili word that means a person who passes down a craft to the next generation. Baker died in New York City in 1986.
The next person of importance is Althea Gibson. Althea Gibson became the first great African-American player in women’s tennis. Raised primarily in Harlem section of New York City, she won various American Tennis Association titles on the African-American circuit. After being allowed entry to the major tournaments, she became the first black player to win Wimbledon and the French and U.S. Open titles. Gibson turned professional in 1959, and became the first African-American competitor on the women’s pro golf tour in the 1960s. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971, and later served as Commissioner of Athletics for the state of New Jersey.
Thanks to these women the world has opened new opportunities for people just like them. they have opened eyes and hearts with their dreams and fulfilled their goals. Check out next week’s addition to women’s history month to find more great women leaders.