Changemakers: Passing The Torch. Generations of Black Women Making Impact (Then and Now)

Women of color have been breaking barriers and making strides in all industries all over the globe. Our intelligence and tenacity go back further than our history books can tell us. We have never stopped, faltered or wavered in our fight to facilitate change and equality in our lives and our community. We are more than just beauty wrapped in shades of brown sugar, covered with style and dipped in magic.

We are brilliant.

We are strong.

We are classy.

We are resilient.


The innovative black women who have made history paved the way for the trailblazing black women of today. We stand on their shoulders, uplifted by their prayers and encouraged by their strength. Here are six pioneering women from three different industries who have made a significant difference in black history.

Science and Engineering

Yesterday: Katherine Johnson is an American mathematician who made waves in the 1960s as a NASA employee. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were instrumental in successfully launching the first American in space in 1961. From there, she went on to work as an aerospace technologist. Her journey of working in a predominantly white male field has been portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the highly acclaimed movie, Hidden Figures.

Today: Tiera Guinn Fletcher is an American engineer who graduated from MIT in 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace and Engineering. During her time at MIT, she was also a part-time Rocket Structural Design and Analysis Engineer. Tiera now works at the Boeing company helping to build the Space Launch System for NASA that will send people to Mars.


Yesterday: Raven Wilkinson is an American ballerina who is credited with breaking the color barrier in 1955 when she became the first Black woman to dance for a major classical ballet company. In her second season with Ballet Rousse, Raven became a premiered soloist. She danced with the company for six years before leaving to explore other opportunities. Later, Raven would become a beloved mentor to the ballet sensation known as Misty Copeland.

Today: Misty Copeland is credited as being one of the world's most famous dancers. Although she experienced notoriety in her early dance career, she became famous for being the first African American principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre. She has received numerous accolades, been in publications and on television programs all over the world. Her memoir Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina was published in 2014.

Hair Industry

Yesterday: Before Madam CJ Walker there was Annie Turnbo Malone. She was a chemist and entrepreneur who became well known for creating and marketing products for black women in the early 1900s. She developed a less harmful hair straightening product, The Wonderful Hair Grower, and went door to door giving demonstrations. By the end of World War l, shes was a millionaire. Annie also established Poro College in St Louis in 1918, a cosmetology school where black women can go and get advanced training in haircare. Her contributions have often been overshadowed by her student, Madam CJ Walker but she definitely deserves to be acknowledged as the pioneer of the black haircare industry.

Today: Mahisha Dellinger is the Curls beauty brand founder and CEO. After being frustrated with the lack of quality products for curly-haired women, she developed a line of organic hair products that she launched in 2002. Manisha was at the forefront of the natural hair movement and continues to line retail shelves across the U.S. and internationally. She is now taking her impact further by being a business advocate, author and television personality on OWN.

These are just six of the powerful and inspiring women that we admire. They are successful, beautiful and the epitome of #BlackGirlMagic. We appreciate their contributions to society and acknowledge our groundbreaking sisters in various industries from yesterday and today.