February is Black History Month, a time to reflect on the history and contributions of blacks to business, politics, American culture, and society.

President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed February as National Black (Afro-American) History Month in 1986. He explained:

It not only offers black Americans an occasion to explore their heritage, but it also offers all Americans an occasion and opportunity to gain a fuller perspective of the contributions of black Americans to our Nation. The American experience and character can never be fully grasped until the knowledge of black history assumes its rightful place in our schools and our scholarship.

This year, we’re spotlighting black women who have made strides for women and the black community and made our nation stronger. Some are inventors and educators and others are entertainers and public servants. All of these trailblazers are worthy of our attention:

  • Marian Anderson – An internationally acclaimed contralto opera singer, Anderson became the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was active during the Civil Rights movement fighting to break down barriers for black artists and earn equality for blacks.
  • Patricia Bath – An ophthalmologist and academic who broke through barriers for women and blacks in her field of medicine. Bath is the first black woman to receive a patent for a medical purpose. She was the first black resident in ophthalmology at New York University and the first black women to serve as a staff surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center.
  • Zora Neale Hurston – An American novelist and short story writer who portrayed racial struggles in the South, Hurston became a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston was both a conservative and a feminist who believed in personal responsibility and self-help.
  • Alveda King – Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a former Georgia state representative, King is a conservative leader who has dedicated her life to protecting the lives of the unborn.
  • Congresswoman Mia Love – The first black female Republican elected to Congress and the first black person elected to Congress from Utah, Love focuses on fiscal discipline, limited government, and personal responsibility. She is the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
  • Condoleezza Rice – The first black female Secretary of State and just the second black Secretary of State in our history, this Stanford professor served as the 66th Secretary of State under President George W. Bush’s Administration.
  • Madam C.J. Walker – An entrepreneur and the first female self-made millionaire in America, Walker made her fortune in the early twentieth century by developing and marketing hair care products to black women.
  • Oprah Winfrey – A media mogul, actress, philanthropist and the first black female billionaire in the world. Winfrey rose from rural poverty to becoming one of the most powerful women in the world.

There are many more notable black women who have left a mark on society.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we applaud the impact that these women have had on our lives.