Each March, Women’s History Month recognizes the ground-breaking achievements of women and women of color.
Kaia Shivers, a liberal studies professor at New York University, helped Insider.com select a list of 20 female innovators and leaders who are making history and setting records.
From entertainers to philanthropists, here are black women who will change the world in 2020.
Renae L. Bluitt just released a Netflix documentary on black female entrepreneurs.
Renae L. Bluitt is a New York-based filmmaker who champions black women’s representation in the media. Her new Netflix documentary, “She Did That.” explores black female entrepreneurs and the work they are doing to pursue their passions.
In an interview with Forbes, she said of her documentary, “Black women and the magic we create is the inspiration behind this film. As the fastest group of entrepreneurs in this country, we are literally turning water into wine in spite of the many obstacles we face on our entrepreneurial journeys.”
Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole was an honoree at the National Women’s History Museum’s Women Making History Awards.
Dr. Cole is an anthropologist, educator, museum director, and college president. She became the first black female president of Spelman College from 1987 to 1997 and was president of Bennett College from 2002 to 2007. She has also been the Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art.
She recently spoke at ceremony in the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall to mark the the 400th anniversary of the first-recorded forced arrival of enslaved African people.
“Owning our history allows us to break free from its shadow, empowering every American of goodwill to have the courage to challenge every day expressions of bigotry and hatred,” she said.
Director and producer Ava DuVernay has had her fair share of Hollywood firsts.
Ana DuVernay is a writer, producer, director and distributor of independent film. In 2012, she won the directing award at Sundance Film Festival for her film “Middle of Nowhere,” becoming the first black woman to do so.
In 2014, her film “Selma” made her the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director and an Academy Award for Best Picture. She also directed “A Wrinkle in Time,” and was the first black woman to direct a film with a budget between $150 million and $250 million.
Last year, she won critical acclaim for her Netflix series, “When They See Us,” based on the Central Park Five. Her new show for OWN, “Cherish the Day,” launches this month.
At the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, she said, “I’m interested in the lives of Black folk as the subject. Not the predicate, not the tangent. These stories deserve to be told — not as sociology, not as spectacle, not as a singular event that happens every so often – but regularly and purposefully as truth and as art on an ongoing basis.”
Crystal Williams is a special needs educator who has used meditation to help her students.
Williams is a California- based education innovator. She pioneered a new method of introducing meditation into the curriculum for students who have suffered traumas.
In an interview with Ark Republic, she said, “Students in foster care often fall behind in school and have some of the worst education outcomes in the country. I know that the traumatized brain does not learn [in stressful environments] and before they will listen to me or respect me, they want to feel safe.”
London Breed is serving San Francisco as its first black female mayor.
Raised in poverty in San Francisco, Breed made her way to the top of government to become the city’s 45th mayor, and the first black woman mayor, in 2018.
Breed has made homelessness a priority during her time in office, declaring a shelter crisis and announcing plans to build 1,000 shelter beds in 2020. Her other areas of focus have been mental health, fighting substance abuse, and paid internships for city high school students.
In an interview with Kara Swisher, she said, “I think my biggest job for me, because this is why I got into politics in the first place, is honestly to really change the future of San Francisco to make sure that people who, sadly, grow up in poverty don’t have to have the kinds of experiences that I had to have growing up in San Francisco.”