February is Black History Month, dedicated to celebrating the successes and contributions made by African-Americans.
Throughout the month, Weekend Express will be sharing some important milestones and fun facts about influential black figures, inventors and barrier breakers. This week, we're giving some major props to the women who have rocked powerful positions and proven girls really do run the world.
Notable firsts by African-American women:
- Harriet Tubman: During the Civil War, this brave woman helped 300 slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. In addition, she became the first woman in American history to lead a military expedition.
- Rosa Parks: Often remembered as a powerful player in the civil rights moment and her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white woman, she also is the first African-American woman to be honored with a statue in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
- Bessie Coleman: Busting through the barriers in the 'boys only' club, Bessie became the the first African-American female pilot in 1921.
- Patricia Roberts Harris: The Harvard grad and lawyer became the first black female named U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter selected her for his cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, another first!
- Shirley Chisholm: During the New York 1969 for a new leader, Chisholm was elected the first African-American congresswoman. She went on to serve seven terms.
- Condoleezza Rice: The political science professor made history when she became the first African-American female U.S. Secretary of State in 2005. She also was among the first group of women admitted to the Augusta National Golf Club.
- Toni Morrison: The literary voice behind works like ‘Beloved' hit a major milestone in 1993 when she was honored as the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature.
- Ursula Burns: After working for Xerox for 29 years, Ursula became the CEO in 2009. That made her the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company.
- Ruth Simmons: In 2000, Ruth was named the 18th president of Brown University-- making her the first black president of an Ivy League school.
- Oprah Winfrey: The philanthropist and TV personality was the first African-American woman to have a syndicated talk show. In 2003, she was named the first black female billionaire by Forbes.