5 Black Women Who Made History — and Who You May Not Have Heard Of – MyHeritage February 25, 2020

I saw this on MyHeritage – 5 Black Women Who Made History — and Who You May Not Have Heard Of: https://blog.myheritage.com/2020/02/5-black-women-who-made-history-and-who-you-may-not-have-heard-of/. Originally over 1,600 words. Cut it down to around 800 words. Plenty of additional information and photos in the link above.


by Talya February 25, 2020 History

Women of color have been fighting for centuries for their right to live in dignity, freedom, and equality. Despite the considerable challenges, many black women have contributed their unique talents and abilities to shape society into what it is today. And no thanks to a dominant culture that is indifferent at best to their stories, those women don’t get nearly as much recognition as they should.

Today, in honor of Black History Month, we’d like to celebrate a small sample of the remarkable black women who achieved extraordinary accomplishments in the past century. We were able to find records of each of these women through MyHeritage SuperSearch™, and we included them below.

Katherine Johnson

They say that behind every successful man there is a woman. Well, behind every successful astronaut, there is Katherine Johnson.


Katherine was born in 1918 in West Virginia and proved a gifted mathematician at a young age. Because there were no public schools for African-American children beyond the eighth grade in the county where she lived, Katherine’s parents sent her to high school in a different county — when she was only 10 years old. She graduated high school at age 14 and went straight to college, where she took every math course available and graduated at age 18.


Raye Montague

Space isn’t the only frontier where black women engineers made groundbreaking contributions.

The first female program manager of ships in the United States Navy, and the first person to design a ship using a computer, was a black woman named Raye Montague.


Raye was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1935. When she was seven years old, her grandfather took her to see a German submarine that had been captured off the coast of South Carolina and had been sent on tour around the country. Fascinated, she asked the man in charge of the exhibit what she would have to learn to work with marine vessels. He said that she would have to be an engineer — “But don’t you worry about that,” he added.


Bessie Coleman

So we’ve met black women who helped revolutionize travel in space and in the sea… now let’s turn to the atmosphere with Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to become a pilot.


Bessie Coleman was born in 1892 in Texas, to a father of Cherokee heritage and an African-American mother. They were sharecroppers, and Bessie helped her family harvest the cotton as a child. At age 12, she earned a scholarship to attend high school, and managed to save enough money to attend one term of university.

When she was 24, she moved to Chicago to live with her brothers. In the barber shop where she worked as a manicurist, she heard the stories of WWI pilots returning from the war, and began to dream of becoming a pilot herself. Since no flight schools in the U.S. would admit either black people or women, she was encouraged to study abroad. With the financial support of a banker and newspaper, she studied French and then traveled to Paris to attend flight school.


Wilma Rudolph


To say that Wilma Rudolph overcame incredible odds to claim the title of the world’s fastest woman in the 1960s is an understatement.

The first hurdle Wilma overcame was at the very beginning of her life: she was born prematurely, weighing only 4.5 pounds (2 kilograms). During her childhood she suffered from a number of common childhood diseases. At age 5, she contracted polio and was struck by infantile paralysis, which left her disabled for the rest of her childhood. Wilma’s family poured a lot of time and energy into helping her heal, and by age 12, she had learned to walk without a brace or orthopedic shoe.


Althea Gibson


Before the Williams sisters became some of the most successful tennis players in history… there was Althea Gibson.


Althea’s is another story of overcoming many hardships to become a legend in her field. Born to a family of sharecroppers on a cotton farm in South Carolina, Althea had to move to Harlem with her family after the Great Depression devastated her parents’ livelihood. An area near her apartment was barricaded off during daylight hours so children could play sports, and Althea quickly rose as a star, becoming the women’s paddle tennis champion of New York City at the tender age of 12.

Althea didn’t even like tennis at first. She thought it was for weaklings. “I kept wanting to fight the other player every time I started to lose a match,” she later recalled in her memoir. Nonetheless, in 1941 she entered the American Tennis Association New York State Championship — and won. She continued playing for the next several years, and kept winning.



About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's collaborateDealspotr.com
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3 Responses to 5 Black Women Who Made History — and Who You May Not Have Heard Of – MyHeritage February 25, 2020

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Good article; I actually didn’t know any of those 5 women before!

    Liked by 1 person

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