10 Most Unforgettable Black Women; Commanding Presence and Natural Talent Make These Great Leaders Memorable

Article excerpt

10 Most Unforgettable Black Women

THERE comes a time in life when you cross paths with an individual who is truly unforgettable. It could be good looks or a fine physique that captures your interest. Or it could be pure talent, political savvy or stimulating intellect. That unforgettable quality could be style and personality.

Throughout our history, there have been Black women who have left their marks indelibly etched in the hearts and minds of America and the world. Though they were smart, talented women, that special something that made them memorable transcended their fields of expertise. It was personal charisma and electric personality that made them linger in one's consciousness. Once you met them, you could never forget them.

It is said that Mary McLeod Bethune was not what the world calls beautiful, but she had so much presence and so much inner beauty that when she walked into a room, people stood up and gave her respect. President Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt frequently sought her advice. Unforgettable is also a most appropriate adjective for the bedazzling Josephine Baker, the one-woman extravaganza who enraptured Paris and the world in the 1920s. It is also a fitting description of one of Baker's show business contemporaries, Ethel Waters, who started out on the blues circuit and evolved into one of Broadway's most popular Black performers. Madame C. J. Walker was quite a dynamic woman, having made a fortune with the hot-iron method of straightening hair. And Ida B. Wells will forever be remembered as the journalist who crusaded against racism.

On these pages EBONY presents "10 Unforgettable Black Women" who have had a significant impact on Black America. Whether their contributions were in the arts and literature, entertainment, or in civil and human rights, they, in their own unforgettable way, enriched the lives of their contemporaries as well as those who follow.

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) was indeed a great American woman, having elevated her status from a cotton picker in South Carolina to confidante and advisor to presidents and founder of Bethune-Cookman College. The talented and flamboyant Josephine Baker (1906-1975), originally from St. Louis, enthralled Paris with her sizzling performances and became an internationally famous entertainer.

Madame C. J. Walker (1867-1919) was the first Black businesswoman millionaire, having made her fortune by developing the hot comb hair straightening process. Starting as a washerwoman in St. Louis, she used business skills and hard work to train thousands of agents to distribute her hair-care and beauty products nationwide. …