As we continue to celebrate the achievements of women who have made a difference in extraordinary ways, we invite you to enjoy this video by Shaggy, The Strength of a Woman.
Video: The Strength of a Woman.
Today, we’re featuring the following phenomenal women:
1. Dr. Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014Born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Mo. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the writer never went to college, but she has received dozens of awards and more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Dr. Angelou died on May 28, 2014 in Winston Salem, NC. We can all recite a famous quote or relate how her life’s work impacted us. Here are just a few of her memorable sayings:
- Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better!
- I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.
- Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.
- A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.
Stand up straight and realize who you are. That you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.
- Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.
- We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.
- You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
- Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.
- If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
- Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.
- Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world but it has not solved one yet.
- Ask for what you want, and be prepared to get it.
Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.
- Having courage does not mean we are unafraid.
- Be present in all things, and thankful for all things.
- My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.
- My mission in life is not to merely survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
- There are people who go through life burdened by ignorance because they refuse to see. When they do not recognize the truth that they belong to their community and their community belongs to them … it is because they refuse to see!
2. Dr. Gladys West, born in 1930 is an American mathematician known for her contributions to the mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth, and it wasn't until 2018 that she would finally be recognized for her very important work that led to the development of one of the most necessary tools we use in our everyday lives — the GPS. The next time you use any navigation device or software like Google Maps, thank Dr. Gladys West, the inventor of GPS technology.
Video on Dr. Gladys West
,3. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala First Woman, First African World Trade Organization Director General
The Director General of The World Trade Organization. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and first African to head the organization. She says she wants to work on fixing inequalities and raise living standards around the world. As an economist and former Nigerian Finance Minister, she says she’s ready for the challenge. “I’m humbled that people have selected not only the first African and the first female, but someone they believe has the competence to try and deliver,” Okonjo-Iweala said. She says her first priorities are COVID-19 vaccine distribution and sustainable fishing.
Video on Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
4. Claudia Jones: The Unsung Anti-racist and Feminist and Founder of Notting Hill Carnival, London, UK Claudia Jones, née Claudia Vera Cumberbatch, was a Trinidad and Tobago-born journalist and activist. She was born on February 21, 1915 in Belmont, Trinidad and died on December 24, 1964 in London, UK. There is a Caribbean saying that could sum up the life and trailblazing work of Claudia Jones: making a way out of no way. As a child, she migrated with her family to the US, where she became a Communist political activist, feminist and black nationalist, adopting the name Jones as "self-protective disinformation". She was exiled to Britain and arrived in London in 1955. Alongside the activist Amy Ashwood Garvey, Jones co-founded one of the first major Black British newspapers, The West Indian Gazette (known as WIG) in 1958. By January 1959, she had set up the Caribbean Carnival, an indoor event at London’s St Pancras Town Hall. Sponsored by WIG and televised by the BBC, the carnival featured an array of elements including dancing, music and a Caribbean Carnival Queen beauty pageant.
Claudia Jones - Notting Hill Carnival
Our sincere appreciation to Ms. Deanne Samuels for contributing the information on this fascinating personality. Ms. Jones was a relative of the children of one of our members, Zilla Bristol.
5. Pearl Eileen Primus - Dancer, Choreographer and Anthropologist
Primus was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on November 29, 1919, she died on October 29, 1994, in New Rochelle, NY. Her family moved to New York City in 1921, when she was two years of age. She wanted to be a physician, and in 1940, she received a degree in biology and premedical sciences from Hunter College in New York City. She was refused employment in her field of study because of racial discrimination. She was later hired in the dance unit of the National Youth Administration where she received a scholarship from the New Dance Group. She studied modern dance and made her debut in 1943 with a solo recital which led to many Broadway performances. Primus formed her own company in 1944. In addition to choreography, she was the director of the Performing Arts Centre in Liberia (1959–61) and earned a master’s in education (1959) and a doctorate in anthropology (1978) from New York University. She held several academic appointments in her late career, notably serving as director of the Cora P. Maloney College at the State University of New York at Buffalo (1984–86) and as professor of ethnic studies at the University of Massachusetts (1984–90). Primus received numerous awards and honors, namely the National Medal of Arts (1991).
6. Dr. Lesley-Ann L. Dupigny-Giroux, Climatologist Lesley-Ann L. Dupigny-Giroux was born in Trinidad and Tobago and is the Vermont State Climatologist, President of the American Association of State Climatologists, Inc., and a professor of Geography at the University of Vermont. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto in 1989, double majoring in physical geography and development studies. She earned both her Master of Science (1992) and Doctor of Philosophy (1996) from McGill University. In her work as State Climatologist for Vermont, Dupigny-Giroux uses her expertise in hydrology and extreme weather, such as floods, droughts, and storms, to keep the residents of Vermont informed on how climate change will affect their homes, health, and livelihoods. She assists other state agencies in preparing for and adapting to current and future impacts of climate change on Vermont's transportation system, emergency management planning, and agriculture and forestry industries. Dupigny-Giroux served as Secretary for the American Association of State Climatologists from 2010-2011 and President Elect from 2019-2020. In June 2020, she was elected as President of the American Association of State Climatologists, which is a two-year term.
7. Earning Olympic Gold is a rare feat in any era, but Alice Coachman faced more of an uphill struggle than most. As a Black athlete, she was unable to train at segregated facilities, so Coachman devised impromptu routines on her own before landing an athletic scholarship to the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. She won gold in the high jump at the 1948 London Games by launching herself 5 feet and 6 and 1/8 inches in the air, becoming the first Black woman to earn a gold medal in track and field. She made even more history in 1952 when she scored an endorsement deal with Coca-Cola—the first Black female athlete to do so. Her achievements have been enough to fill at least nine separate Halls of Fame.
8. Claudia Gordon was eight years old in rural Jamaica when she suddenly developed severe pain in her middle ears. Her aunt, Mildred Taylor, took her to a small clinic but with no doctor on duty, the nurse couldn’t determine what was wrong. Gordon became deaf. Claudia Gordon went on to become the first Deaf Black female attorney in America—and an advocate for individuals with disabilities. Gordon is the director of government and compliance with Sprint Accessibility, but before that she was working as the chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs under the Obama administration. In that role, Gordon essentially worked to ensure that companies working with the federal government were not using discriminatory practices, a cause she personally championed in part due to her own experiences. During her tenure at the White House, she worked on improving the Rehabilitation Act, which, in Gordon’s own words, mandated that federal contractors “take affirmative action to employ and to advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities.”
9. Hazel Dorothy Scott (1920-1981)
The Trinidadian jazz singer trended after Alicia Keys paid homage to Scott's ability to play two pianos at the same time at the 2019 Grammy Awards. Scott was a musical prodigy who caught the attention of the founder of The Juilliard School in New York at age eight. The celebrated classical pianist also performed on Broadway and had several small cameos in films, such as the 1943 musical, The Heat's On.
10. Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994)
As a child, Wilma Rudolph suffered from polio and scarlet fever. Despite being told that she wouldn't be able to walk again, she would go on to become one of the world's fastest women. At the 1960 Summer Olympics, she won three gold medals, becoming the first American woman to win three medals in track and field at the same Olympic games. She also used her sports platform for social causes.