Honoring Black History: Black Leaders Who Inspire Change

Honoring Black History: Black Leaders Who Inspire Change

For Black History Month, Girls Inc. recognizes the power of representation and the importance of celebrating Black excellence. Our Brand Ambassadors are inspired by remarkable Black role models and share their reflections on the individuals who have made a significant impact on their lives. From personal anecdotes to favorite books written by Black authors, our Ambassadors highlight the traits and characteristics they admire and aspire to embody. Join us as we celebrate diversity and the enduring legacy of Black leaders.


Black History Month honors the African Americans who had courage in the face of adversity. Additionally, it is used as an opportunity to highlight the achievements of Black Americans and those of African Descent. One of the most inspirational figures that I have come across this year was Katherine Johnson, one of the first African American Mathematicians at NASA. Her work was essential to the success of NASA space flights throughout the 1960s. She even had a movie portrayed about her life called Hidden Figures

I’ve loved technology all my life. No matter if it was the way a computer screen reacted to a user’s movements or Bluetooth being able to control my TV remote, I was always captivated by the way hardware and software affected our everyday lives. I can still remember when I took my middle school’s conjoined engineering and coding program. We worked with Apple’s SWIFT platform to solve puzzles using functions, loops, and booleans. However, there was one stark realization that I had when I was a part of this class — I was the only African-American girl. Despite the fact that computer science affects all of us, there is limited representation for certain groups like women and minorities, which can perpetuate harmful biases in AI systems. Katherine Johnson has inspired me to continue to break barriers within the realm of STEM. 


Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, longtime Philadelphia resident, was a prominent Black activist during the Reconstruction and Pre-Emancipation Eras. She was a poet, abolitionist, and feminist. Born in Baltimore to a free family, she was able to attain a stable education throughout her childhood. Harper developed an interest in literature and eventually began to write poetry. Her continuous use of the power of poetry and language to advocate for the emancipation of slaves was astounding as at the time many African Americans faced the difficulty of having little to no resources to express their opinions in public forums without the fear of legal or social retaliation. Francis Ellen Watkins Harper lived in Philly from 1870 until her death in 1911. While she was active in Philadelphia, she gave speeches promoting her beliefs in suffrage and Black liberation. She was a member of the American Equal Suffrage Association. Her passion for desegregation was apparent in her work alongside the Statistical Association of the Colored People of Pennsylvania and her references to the desegregation of streetcars specifically in her speeches.


My favorite book written by a black author would be the Dork Diaries series created by Rachel Reneé Russel. I read these books growing up and throughout the series, readers follow the protagonist, Nikki Maxwell as she grows up and faces the challenges of being a girl in an ever-changing world. Growing up, Nikki was like a best friend who gave me advice on how to deal with the tougher parts of being a girl while carrying her head high and overcoming all of her challenges. To me, Russel’s novels mirror the mentorship and friendship that Girls Inc. has provided me. 


One of my favorite books by Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, showcases protagonist Janie Crawford in a story set in the 1930s. Janie Crawford is a beautiful, independent black woman who desires true love. Throughout the novel, Janie lives her life in the shadow of her husband and never gets to be her own person. It takes a lot of strength and courage to finally call him out in front of the whole town and eventually escape his grasp. Janie, who is still full of passion and dreams, carries on with her life while searching for someone else to love. When she encounters a young gentleman who shares a clear attraction to her, she decides that this man is the love of her life. After being happily married to him for two years, disaster strikes and he unfortunately passes away. Janie has time to reflect on her entire life and comes to peace with herself. She realizes that she was so focused on finding someone to love that she never had time to love herself. Now, she can live the rest of her life making herself happy.



In honor of Black History Month, I would like to celebrate Michelle Obama for her groundbreaking achievements. Breaking through racial barriers as the first black First Lady, she has dedicated herself to fighting for poverty awareness, international adolescent education, gender equality, and much more. Her famous motto, “When they go low, we go high” inspires all young girls to be strong, smart, and bold. She is an icon and a role model to us all.