By Nana Fordjour

Harvard historian Carter G. Woodson and Minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), which studies and promotes achievements made by African Americans. In 1926, they developed the “Negro History Week” to celebrate African Americans’ accomplishments on the second week of February because of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass birthdays were that week. The “Negro History Week” was the precursor to Black History Month. Since 1976, each U.S. President has officially recognized Black History Month in February.

Black History Month is observed every year in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to celebrate and remember the contributions, achievements, culture, and history of African Americans. To celebrate Black History Month we are spotlighting four African American women who were pioneers in their profession.












Naomi Sims was a successful model, author, entrepreneur, and fashion icon. She was the first African American supermodel, and she was also the first African American woman to appear on the covers of Ladies’ Home Journal and Life magazine in 1968 and 1969. She appeared on many runways and magazine covers and retired from modeling in 1973. She started her own company and launched The Naomi Sims Collection, which included wigs, fragrance, cosmetics and she wrote several books on beauty, health, and modeling. Eventually, her company became a multimillion dollar company.










Diahann Carroll is an award-winning actress, singer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. In 1962, she was the first African American woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress for the Broadway production “No Strings.” In 1968, she was the first African American actress to star in her own television series, which was “Julia” on NBC. In 1968, for her role in “Julia” she won a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star – Female and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series in 1969. In 1984, she joined the popular nighttime soap opera “Dynasty” and played the role of Dominique Deveraux and this show is in syndication around the world. Throughout the years she has starred and appeared in several films, plays, and television shows and released albums. Her successful career spans nearly six decades and she was honored for her achievements with her induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2011.













Mae Carol Jemison was the first African American woman to be accepted in the astronaut training program. She earned the title of science mission specialist, which made her in charge of conducting scientific experiments. In 1992, she traveled into space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. She became the first African American female NASA astronaut. She has received several awards and honorary doctorates for her accomplishments. In 1993, she resigned from NASA and she was a professor at Dartmouth College. She started her own company called the Jemison Group, which develops, researches, and markets science and technology.













Carol Moseley Braun was the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992 and first African American U.S. Senator for the Democratic Party. She was first female Senator from Illinois and the first woman to win against an incumbent in an election. When she was a Senator she focused on many issues, such as women’s rights and civil rights and worked on many committees. She was also for education reform and gun control laws. She lost her re-election bid in 1998. In 1999, she became the United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.

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