The Biographies and Autobiographies of USA’s Famous Black Women – Part 1

There have been many books written about black women that are an inspiration to men and women regardless of their color. These people had to overcome prejudice on their life journey as a result of both their sex and their race. However, despite many obstacles being put in their way and many dangers faced, they have still fought on bravely to achieve their goals.

Ella Baker

One book that illustrates this perfectly is “This little light of mine: The life of Fanny Lou Hamer” by Kay Mills. Fanny Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist who acted as the vice chairman for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She was politically active in the 1960s when the State was the most racially segregated region in the country. She fought for the rights of women in Mississippi to become registered voters. During her protests, she was attacked by white supremacists and police, and was even shot at.  Despite the aggression she faced, she never stopped fighting for Black Women’s rights and in 1993 was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Fanny Lou Hamer

Another black American Woman was at the fore front for the fight civil rights was Ella Baker. Her fight for five decades is recorded in Barbara Ransby’s biography “Ellla Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision”. Baker did not like to be at the front of all of the campaigning, as she worked tirelessly behind the scenes fighting for the rights of Black Woman. As well as being critical of the government she also wasn’t scared to point out the sexism and classism that existed within the Civil Rights Party. This untiring work made her one of the most influential women within the civil rights movement.

One of the most high profile civil rights groups during the 1960s and 1970s were the Black Panthers. They had a paramilitary wing called the Black Liberation Army who would rob banks and attack police and drugs dealers. One of their members was Assata Shakur who in 1973 was convicted of shooting and killing a policeman.

Madam CJ Walker and her hair products

In 1979 she escaped from prison and in 1984 she reappeared in Cuba where she was granted political asylum. Her autobiography “Assata” tells her story and the history of the Black Panthers. She is on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist List”. One of the most inspirational stories to be told is “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of C.J Walker” by A’lelia Bundles. She recalls the life of Madam C.J Walker who was America’s first self-made female millionaire.

Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Louisiana, her parents were slaves on a plantation. They were soon freed as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation but sadly both her parents died, and by the age of 7 she was an orphan.

Raised by her sister, she soon started to investigate ways of making money and found a market for hair products for black women. She created her own products and adopted her new husband’s surname who helped greatly with advertising her merchandise. Her daughter also helped to expand the business and it was soon selling products all over America and even in Europe. The heartwarming biography clearly demonstrates what is possible in life with perseverance and determination.

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