Top 10 Historic Black Female Politicians of All-Time
Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer and countless others make the list
It’s hard to be a black woman in America. (And you don’t need melanin and ovaries to recognize it.)
Although black women had traditionally taken a supporting role during the Black Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and the 1960’s, there were several who broke out of that mold.
It’d be cliché to say that behind every great black man, there’s a great black woman. That statement doesn’t go far enough. In many cases, the black women on this list were greater than there male counterparts. They are cunning, superbly educated, nurturing, and unrelenting.
Here are the top ten important black women in U.S. politics:
1. Mary McLeod Bethune
July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955
Her distinction: Mary McLeod Bethune worked tirelessly to improve educational opportunities for young African American children. In politics, she served on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal administration.
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2. Shirley Antia St. Hill Chisholm
November 30 1924 – January 1, 2005
Her distinction: Shirley Chisholm was a career New York politician, who rose to notoriety as the first black woman elected to Congress and the first black major party candidate for President of the United States.
3. Fannie Lou Hamer
October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977
Her distinction: Fannie Lou Hamer was a prominent voice in the fight for African American voting rights in the south. She became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and delivered a moving testimony before the 1964 Democratic National Convention in 1964.
4. Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun
August 16, 1947 –
Her distinction: Carol Moseley Braun is the only African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She has served as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand during the Clinton and Bush administrations. She also ran for mayor of Chicago, losing to several candidates, including former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in 2011.
5. Barbara Jordan
February 21, 1936 – January 17, 1996
Her distinction: Barbara Jordan was the first African American elected to the Texas state Senate and the first southern black female elected to Congress. In 1976, she became the first African American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
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6. Maxine Waters
August 15, 1938 –
Her distinction: Maxine Waters is the most senior of 12 black woman serving in Congress. Known by many in the House as a firebrand for the Democratic Party, Waters has been unrelenting in advocating the advancement of people of color through government action.
7. Barbara Lee
July 16, 1946 –
Her distinction: Barbara Lee is the only lawmaker on Capitol Hill to vote against the authorization of the war in Iraq. Her vote was met with so much backlash, Capitol Police had to provide round-the-clock protection. Today, Lee is seen as a hero of the anti-war movement.
8. Condoleezza Rice
November 14, 1954 –
Her distinction: Condoleezza Rice was the first female African American secretary of state and the closest African American woman in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency. As a diplomat, she became the face of U.S. interests around the world, and garnered some unlikely fans.
9. Susan Rice
November 17, 1964 –
Her distinction: As the current US. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice has led the charge for appropriate and humane intervention in the world’s most recent crises.
10. Michelle Obama
January 17, 1964 –
Her distinction: As the first African American First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has set a new standard for advocacy on a range of issues affecting American families and children. Her Let’s Move campaign has just celebrated its 2-year anniversary, with a rather unorthodox publicity campaign.