Notable African Women in Black History

An ever-expanding list of resources for learning about famous African American women and other women of Black History. You’ll find women who are famous and women who should be better-known, from early America and slavery to the 21st century, including the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement. See also:

Famous African American Women: A – Z

Marian Anderson: singer

Regina Anderson: librarian, playwright

Maya Angelou: singer, actress, activist, writer, poet

Lil Hardin Armstrong: jazz musician

Pearl Bailey: singer, performer, stage, film, special ambassador

Josephine Baker: entertainer


Willie B. Barrow: minister, civil rights activist

Daisy Bates: journalist, civil rights activist

Mary McLeod Bethune: educator, racial justice activist, New Deal government official

Marita Bonner: writer, educator

Gwendolyn Brooks: poet, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1950, poet laureate of Illinois

Hallie Quinn Brown: educator, lecturer, clubwoman, reformer

Marjorie Lee Browne: educator, mathematician

Nannie Helen Burroughs: educator and activist

Shirley Chisholm: politician

Bessie Coleman: aviator

Angela Davis: radical black activist, educator, philosopher

Ruby Dee: actress, activist

Henriette Delille: founded religious order

Alice Dunbar-Nelson: writer, teacher; Harlem Renaissance figure

Marian Wright Edelman: lawyer, educator, activist, reformer, children’s advocate, administrator

Elizabeth (“Old Elizabeth”): preacher, emancipated slave, autobiographer

Myrlie Evers: activist

Jessie Redmon Fauset: poet; Harlem Renaissance figure

Charlotte Forten: see Charlotte Forten Grimké below

Althea Gibson: tennis player

Angelina Weld Grimke: writer

Charlotte Forten Grimké: educator, writer, anti-slavery activist, civil rights activist, clubwoman

Fannie Lou Hamer: activist, sharecropper

Lorraine Hansberry: playwright

Lil Hardin: jazz musician

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: writer, abolitionist

Anna Arnold Hedgeman: educator, civil rights activist, politician, government office-holder, writer, feminist

Dorothy Height: activist, reformer, organizer

Sally Hemings: slave, likely mistress of Thomas Jefferson and mother of several of his children

Billie Holiday: singer

Ariel Williams Holloway: musician, pianist, educator, poet

bell hooks: writer, theologian, philosopher

Lena Horne: singer, actress

Zora Neale Hurston: writer, folklorist, anthropologist

Mae Jemison: astronaut, physician

Georgia Douglas Johnson: poet; Harlem Renaissance figure

Barbara Jordan: politician

Florynce Kennedy: lawyer, activist

Jackie Joyner-Kersee: athlete

Nella Larsen: writer, nurse

Edmonia Lewis: sculptor

Audre Lorde: writer, poet, activist, librarian

Wangari Maathai: educator, activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner

Toni Morrison: writer; winner, Nobel Prize for Literature, 1993

Eleanor Holmes Norton: lawyer, educator, politician

Odetta: singer

Rosa Parks: civil rights activist, social reformer, racial justice advocate

Lucy Parsons: anarchist, writer

Leontyne Price: opera singer

Charlotte Ray: lawyer, teacher

Bernice Johnson Reagon: singer, activist

Wilma Rudolph: athlete, runner (track and field)

Augusta Savage: sculptor, teacher

Ntozake Shange: playwright, writer

Nina Simone: singer

Maria W. Stewart: lecturer, abolitionist, writer

Mary Church Terrell: activist, reformer

Sojourner Truth: lecturer, escaped slave, abolitionist, women’s rights activist

Harriet Tubman: escaped slave, Underground Railroad conductor, abolitionist, women’s rights activist, spy, soldier

Cicely Tyson: actress

Wyomia Tyus: athlete

A’Lelia Walker: business executive, arts patron

Alice Walker: writer, activist

Maggie Lena Walker: business executive, bank president

Madam C J Walker (Sarah Breedlove Walker): business executive, inventor

Margaret Murray Washington: educator, clubwoman

Faye Wattleton: nurse, activist, Planned Parenthood president

Ida B Wells-Barnett: journalist, activist

Phillis Wheatley: poet, slave

Oprah Winfrey: reporter, talk show host, business executive

More women’s history biographies, by name::

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P/Q | R | S | T | U/V | W | X/Y/Z


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