In Celebration Of
February is considered the month of love. In fact, our blogs for this month were dedicated to different concepts of relationships. However, February has also been designated at Black History Month. In honor of that, The Daughter’s Blog writers have chosen to write and highlight African American women that influenced or inspired them the most.
Maya Angelou: April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014
Black history month was one of my favorite times of the school year as a kid because I was taught about people who spoke out in courage and bravery against inhumane treatment of people and exposing the inequality of man. I loved that as I got older, the lessons and depictions of these people got more exposed to me and I was able to grasp the intensity of their actions as I matured. One of those incredible people that always stuck with me was Maya Angelou.
Now, I could take up all my allotted words to just quote her and I think you would agree – that’s powerful enough. However I think there’s something to be said about such an incredible woman in the creative arts. Being a creative myself, I loved seeing/learning about a woman who has played such a powerful role in society not only with text, but in leadership, community outreach, and song. I look at this woman and think to myself, how do I follow in those footsteps of courage to say, create, sing, write, and DO what I believe the Lord is enticing me to do?
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
This quote is one of my ABSOLUTE favorites, because it’s so very provoking. It makes me die to myself and dare to share in whatever capacity I can. Maya was a woman of grace, but also a woman of power. She, to me, is such a great depiction of a real feminist – a woman who holds herself accountable to her morals, values, core beliefs, and sense of equality. She taught me that I cannot expect to change the world, but to expect that God can use me to move the world.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou
Anita Baker: January 26, 1958 –
I admire Anita Baker for her strength and determination to push through all her early childhood adversities and become an amazing singer, songwriter, social icon, and mother.
A “few” things I love about her:
- 1.She overcame the challenges of being abandoned at an early age, then losing her foster parents at the age of 12.
- She began her music career at the age of 16 and then took time off from an extremely successful music career to raise her children while they were young,
- Her rocking music! Music which has won her 8 Grammys, a platinum and gold album.
- Her decision to retire last year at the young age of 60 because she did not want to work herself into the grave.
“Anita Baker: Her unique, towering voice has remained an influence in contemporary soul music, mixing jazz traditions and picking up several Grammy Awards throughout her career. The legendary singer has four No. 1 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums, including Rhythm of Love, Giving You the Best That I Got, My Everything and the platinum-selling Rapture.” ~Billboard Magazine.
Queen Latifah (AKA Dana Owens): March 18, 1970 –
There are many strong, powerful, insightful, inspirational African American women in history. Some are well known, such as Harriet Tubman, who, after finding her own freedom from slavery, risked her life helping others find theirs. There is Josephine Baker who had to leave the US to become an icon of the Jazz Age. There is Rosa Parks best-
known for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56. And of course, Michelle Obama, America’s first African American First Lady who, while, standing by her man, was able to create her own identity as an advocate for education and healthy living. There are also others who are a bit lesser known, but equally important. There are women such as Phillis Wheatley, an educated slave who found fame in 1773 by publishing a book of poems–a book that included a preface by 17 men to provide proof that she actually wrote it. There is also A’Lelia Walker, daughter of the famous Madame CJ Walker, who was a great business executive and patron of the arts. She became known as the Joy Goddess of the Harlem Renaissance for her role in bringing together artists, writers and intellectuals.
I have always been a fan of Queen Latifah’s story. It is ground breaking in its own right. She started at one point then proceeded to another, defining and redefining who she was and what she was capable of. Never allowing society to tell her what she could or could not be.
Latifah began her career as a rapper and won a Grammy for her single U.N.I.T.Y. In the 90’s she branched out into acting, first in films such as Jungle Fever and Juice. She later went on to star in the sitcom Living Single (one of my favs!). It remains one of the few sitcoms to feature and focus on a group of African American women. Queen Latifah pursued this side of her creativity with gusto with performances in a list of movies far too long to write here. Her most acclaimed role may have been in the hit musical Chicago. But I liked her performance in a recent version of the musical Hairspray. These musical debuts bring me to the next great thing in her story—her awesome singing voice, which can be experienced on several albums produced under the name Dana Owens.
Latifah’s accomplishments include, but certainly are not limited to: rapper, record producer, actress, CoverGirl Spokesperson, talk show host, and singer. Such an inspiration, I cannot wait to see what she does next!