Black History Month is in full swing and instead of highlighting the usual amazing people who’ve made a difference in our world - we love you, Sojourner Truth! - we’ve decided to look at those who’ve made a difference in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Whether you’re a member of the Black community or not, the following people should be an inspiration for kiddos everywhere. You can read the first part of this post here.
Serena Williams: Athlete, Icon
Serena Williams is the G.O.A.T. Do we need to say more about one of the most accomplished tennis players of all time? Probably not, but we will. Besides making tennis more inclusive and changing how we look at athletic women’s bodies - strong is beautiful! - Williams is an inspiration for Black children who are now picking up rackets to emulate their idol. The best part: she’s not done. Williams is starting her second act as an entrepreneur and investor and we can’t wait to see what she does next since retiring from the court. She’s also a great Instagram follow where she gives us a peek into her life with her husband and adorable daughter.
Bad Brains: Musicians, Punk Rock Royalty
Rock music is often hidden behind a gate. This gatekeeping can discourage people from picking up an instrument or rocking out. For white artists, thrashing around on stage while making a political point is seen as brave. For Black artists, it’s barely even seen. Except for Bad Brains. This Washington D.C. band started as a jazz fusion ensemble until they learned the power of punk in the mid-70s. Since becoming pioneers in the east coast punk scene, Bad Brains have released nine full-length albums, four EPs, four live recordings, and a slew of demos, compilations, and singles. And as the kids today say, their music definitely slaps.
Katherine Johnson: Mathematician, STEM pioneer
STEM is cool. Learning about cause and effect is also cool. What’s even cooler? Knowing your exact calculations of orbital mechanics put a man on the moon. Katherine Johnson is proof that math can be exciting and fun, and you can make a successful career out of it. This mathematician was one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist and spent her illustrious career calculating everything and anything to ensure that space was no longer the final frontier but a place to gather important data. If the name sounds familiar it’s because Johnson was played by Taraji P. Henson - another G.O.A.T. - in the film Hidden Figures. She’s also part of Barbie’s Inspiring Women™ Series and we have a feeling she would’ve loved our interactive smart companion for children, Snorble.
Cori Bush: Congresswoman, Nurse, Activist
A member of The Squad - an elite group of congresspeople fighting daily for the rights of minorities across the United States - Cori Bush is the real deal. She’s a registered nurse, community activist, and organizer, ordained pastor, and was once so destitute she lived in a van with her children. She not only persevered and became a congresswoman for Missouri’s first district, but Cori also sits on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee, and is the Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. To say she’s busy is an understatement.
James Baldwin: Writer, Activist
Reading and writing are fundamental parts of any child’s development and James Baldwin helped a generation of Black children everywhere aspire to put pen to paper - or more aptly, put fingers to keyboard. His novels, essays, plays, and poems gave a voice to the voiceless in a time when being queer was regarded as evil. From Go Tell it On the Mountain to If Beale Street Could Talk, Baldwin’s electrifying works show the power of literature and how speaking the truth can produce generations of free thinkers.
- Tarana Burke - founder of the #MeToo Movement
- KRS-One - he basically invented politically-driven hip hop
- Nicole Hannah-Jones - journalist who developed The 1619 Project
- Maia Chaka - the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game