Today kicks off the first 24 hours of Women’s Month and you’ll surely see a slew of television programming on the contributions women (especially those of fairer skin) have made to America and the world. But we doubt that you all will get much education on the little-known facts about Black women and what they meant (and still mean) to mankind. So the NewsOne crew has put together some interesting titbits about Black women we think will be fairly new to you. Enjoy!
1) After Josephine Baker, an African-American dance and singing icon, moved to France for opportunities unavailable to her in her home country, she smuggled intelligence to French allies during World War II. Source [Biography]
2) Actress and singer Pearl Bailey earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from Georgetown University after her career ended. Source [Biography]
3) During Shirley Chisholm‘s run for president in 1972, she survived three assassination attempts. Source [Biography]
4 ) Billie Holiday made “Strange Fruit,” the song about Black lynching in the South, famous, but it was originally a poem penned by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx.
Source [Biography and PBS.org]
Watch Billie Holiday Perform “Strange Fruit” Live
5) Back when Blacks could be severely punished for being able to read, Harriet Ann Jacobs, a former slave, published “Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl” in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent. As Jacobs’ Biography profile notes:
The book chronicles the hardships and sexual abuse she experienced as a female growing up in slavery. Jacobs fled slavery in 1835 by hiding in a crawlspace in her grandmother’s attic for nearly seven years before traveling to Philadelphia by boat, and eventually to New York.
6) Coretta Scott King was well-known as a singer before meeting her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mrs. King won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Source [Youtube and Biography]
Watch The Late Coretta Scott King Discuss Her Singing Career
7) Alicia Keys has brains to go along with that great voice of hers. She was accepted into Columbia University, but decided on a music career instead. Seems like her bet paid off! Source [People Magazine and Biography]
8) Halle Berry‘s parents named her after Halle’s Department Store, a local landmark in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Source [Wikipedia]
9) Even though Octavia Butler was dyslexic, she went on to become an award-winning science fiction author. (How many of you knew Black folks write science fiction to begin with?) Source [Biography and The Seattle Times]
10) Ever wonder who the woman behind the Aunt Jemima image is? She is Nancy Green, a former slave who was employed to promote the Aunt Jemima brand. Green “signed a lifetime contract with the pancake company and her image was used for packaging and billboards,” according to her profile on Biography. Source [African-American Registry]