Playwright/Screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks was the first African American woman in 2002 to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play – Topdog/Underdog which starred Jeffrey Wright and Don Cheadle (Wright and Mos Def on Broadway). The play is about two African-American brothers named Lincoln and Booth as a joke by their father.
She also worked on the screenplays for Their Eyes are Watching God and The Great Debaters.
She credits her writing teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, for starting her on the path of playwrighting. James Baldwin stated that she is “an astonishing and beautiful creature who may become one of the most valuable artists of our time.”
Angela Davis and Toni Morrison
Activist, philosopher and writer, Angela Davis, was once on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Her image – is associated with the Black Panthers, and the Black Power Movement. Very few know that before the Black Panthers, she was active with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, and that she ran for U.S. Vice President in 1985 on the Communist Party Ticket.
Some of her books include, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertude “MA” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday, Women, Culture and Politics, and Angela Davis: An Autobiography.
Novelist, editor and professor, Toni Morrison has won the Nobel prize in Literature – the first black woman to do so – and the Pulitzer, as well as other literary awards. Some of her books include, Sula, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Paradise, Love, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Remember and The Dancing Mind.
Ursula Burns is the first black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company. On July 1, 2009 she was named the CEO of Xerox. She accomplished this all while sporting her TWA :o)
She serves as Director of the F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Foundation, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, and the National Academy Foundation.
She was named by President Barack Obama to help lead the White House national program on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in November 2009 and was appointed Vice Chair of the President’s Export Council in March 2010.
Madam C.J. Walker
Business woman, and philanthropist, Madam C.J. Walker is truly one of my inspirations, not only did she rise from the cotton fields in the south to starting her own hair business, she gave back to her community as well.
“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.” Madam Walker, National Negro Business League Convention.
I had the opportunity to interview A’Lelia Bundles and she had this to say about her great-great grandmother. “I hope people will remember that Madam Walker’s business success is only part of her legacy. That she became a millionaire is, of course, noteworthy, but that she used her wealth and influence as a philanthropist, political activist and advocate for women’s economic independence really is what makes her worth remembering.”
“Even then, her focus was on healthy hair and healing the scalp disease that was so rampant at the time …. I know many people still associate her primarily with hair straightening, but if they really examine the record – looking at her original ads, her letters, the products she and the Walker Company actually sold before her death in 1919 – I believe their interpretation would be different,” she added.