Notable African American Women

Women in Black History

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

An ever-expanding list of resources for learning about famous African American women and other women of Black History. You'll find women who are famous and women who should be better-known, from early America and slavery to the 21st century, including the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement. See also:

Famous African American Women: A - Z

Marian Anderson: singer

Regina Anderson: librarian, playwright

Maya Angelou: singer, actress, activist, writer, poet

Lil Hardin Armstrong: jazz musician

Pearl Bailey: singer, performer, stage, film, special ambassador

Josephine Baker: entertainer

Ida B. Wells Barnett: see Ida B. Wells-Barnett below.

Daisy Bates: journalist, civil rights activist

Mary McLeod Bethune: educator, racial justice activist, New Deal government official

Marita Bonner: writer, educator

Gwendolyn Brooks: poet, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1950, poet laureate of Illinois

Hallie Quinn Brown: educator, lecturer, clubwoman, reformer

Marjorie Lee Browne: educator, mathematician

Nannie Helen Burroughs: educator and activist

Shirley Chisholm: politician

Bessie Coleman: aviator

Angela Davis: radical black activist, educator, philosopher

Ruby Dee: actress, activist

Henriette Delille: founded religious order

Alice Dunbar-Nelson: writer, teacher; Harlem Renaissance figure

Marian Wright Edelman: lawyer, educator, activist, reformer, children's advocate, administrator

Elizabeth ("Old Elizabeth"): preacher, emancipated slave, autobiographer

Myrlie Evers: activist

Jessie Redmon Fauset: poet; Harlem Renaissance figure

Charlotte Forten: see Charlotte Forten Grimké below

Althea Gibson: tennis player

Angelina Weld Grimke: writer

harlotte Forten Grimké: educator, writer, anti-slavery activist, civil rights activist, clubwoman

Fannie Lou Hamer: activist, sharecropper

Lorraine Hansberry: playwright

Lil Hardin: jazz musician

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: writer, abolitionist

    Anna Arnold Hedgeman: educator, civil rights activist, politician, government office-holder, writer, feminist

    Dorothy Height: activist, reformer, organizer

    Sally Hemings: slave, likely mistress of Thomas Jefferson and mother of several of his children

    Billie Holiday: singer

    Ariel Williams Holloway: musician, pianist, educator, poet

    bell hooks: writer, theologian, philosopher

    Lena Horne: singer, actress

    Zora Neale Hurston: writer, folklorist, anthropologist

    Mae Jemison: astronaut, physician

    Georgia Douglas Johnson: poet; Harlem Renaissance figure

    Barbara Jordan: politician

    Florynce Kennedy: lawyer, activist

    Jackie Joyner-Kersee: athlete

    Nella Larsen: writer, nurse

    Edmonia Lewis: sculptor

    Audre Lorde: writer, poet, activist, librarian

    Wangari Maathai: educator, activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner

    Toni Morrison: writer; winner, Nobel Prize for Literature, 1993

    Eleanor Holmes Norton: lawyer, educator, politician

    Odetta: singer

    Rosa Parks: civil rights activist, social reformer, racial justice advocate

    Lucy Parsons: anarchist, writer

    Leontyne Price: opera singer

    Charlotte Ray: lawyer, teacher

    Bernice Johnson Reagon: singer, activist

    ilma Rudolph: athlete, runner (track and field)

    Augusta Savage: sculptor, teacher

    Ntozake Shange: playwright, writer

    Nina Simone: singer

    Maria W. Stewart: lecturer, abolitionist, writer

    Mary Church Terrell: activist, reformer

    Sojourner Truth: lecturer, escaped slave, abolitionist, women's rights activist

    Harriet Tubman: escaped slave, Underground Railroad conductor, abolitionist, women's rights activist, spy, soldier

    Cicely Tyson: actress

    Wyomia Tyus: athlete

    A'Lelia Walker: business executive, arts patron

    Alice Walker: writer, activist

    Maggie Lena Walker: business executive, bank president

    Madam C J Walker (Sarah Breedlove Walker): business executive, inventor

    Margaret Murray Washington: educator, clubwoman

    Faye Wattleton: nurse, activist, Planned Parenthood president

    Ida B Wells-Barnett: journalist, activist

    Phillis Wheatley: poet, slave

    Oprah Winfrey: reporter, talk show host, business executive