February is Black History Month, a time when we pause and reflect on the vital contributions people of color have made to American history and culture. Since 1976, we've annually paid tribute to influential African-Americans including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Jesse Jackson during Black History Month celebrations. However, the impact of bad-ass Black women is often ignored. We think these fierce females deserve recognition, so we've created this timeline to shine a spotlight on their achievements.
1656 – Elizabeth Key Grinstead (1630–1665), the daughter of a Black slave and her white owner, successfully sues for her freedom. She also secures her infant son's liberty. Her case is one of the first successful freedom suits in the 13 colonies.
1849 – Harriet Ross Tubman (1882–1913) escapes slavery in Maryland. She goes on to become one of the key conductors of the Underground Railroad, risking her own life to help other slaves find freedom. She becomes the only female Civil War commander and a suffragette.
1855 – The poem “Bar's Fight,” the first known piece of literature by an African-American writer, is published. Lucy Terry Prince (1730–1821) wrote her work after a Native American raid on her hometown of Deerfield, Massachusetts. It was passed down orally until its publication.
1914 – Alice Augusta Ball (1892–1916) becomes the first female professor of chemistry at the University of Hawaii. Her research into the effects of chaulmoogra tree oil on people with Hansen disease leads to the world's first successful treatment for this condition.
1955 – Rosa Parks (1913–2005) refuses to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. Her act of defiance sparks the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which leads to the abolition of bus segregation in 1957.
1961 – Katherine Goble Johnson (1918–2020) calculates the space-flight trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space. She later verifies calculations for John Glenn's orbit and designs the navigational track that puts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. In 2016, Hollywood film Hidden Figures celebrates her achievements.
2020 – Kamala Devi Harris (1964– ) is named the first female and first African-American vice president. The achievement comes just four years after Harris becomes the first Black woman in California to hold a U.S. Senate seat.
History is dotted with the achievements of strong women like the ones above. Some change the world, while others have a profound impact on those in their immediate circle. Connect with the powerful females in your past with a Psychic reading from PathForward. Our experienced Spiritual Advisors can help you connect with recently departed loved ones and find a connection with your own history.