21 for the 21st Century
FROM Africa to America, Sisters have embraced spirit of creativity and survival. Family matriarchs transformed cast-asides from the White man s table into meals that nourished the soul. Black women, along with Black men, gave birth to the many colors of American music from spirituals that were sung in the fields to sassy anthems and heart-tugging ballads that defined rhythm and blues. The Sister teacher, politician and entrepreneur helped to empower our community as Sister writers and artists helped to liberate our minds. The Black woman of the new millennium continues in that tradition.
In the 21st century, Sisters will smash through boundaries and develop new legacies in fields such as architecture, theater, finance, politics, education, law enforcement and medicine. Consider Heather Headley, star of the hit musical Aida, or Stephanie Wilson, an astronaut-in-training, or Mellody Hobson, senior vice president of Ariel Capital Management.
These accomplishments might have been rare even a generation ago, but in the new century, these are just the beginning of innovations and breakthroughs to come.
In the spirit of Sisterhood, EBONY salutes 21 Black women who are emerging leaders for the millennium. Some names and faces will be familiar; others will be new heroines. All are young Sisters, aged 35 and younger, making strides for a better world. The wisdom of the ages says that the strength of a people is measured by its women. That being true, we have much to applaud.
Stephanie D. Wilson
STEPHANIE D. WILSON, 33, is a NASA Astronaut based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Massachusetts native received a bachelor of science degree in engineering science from Harvard University in 1988 and a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1992.
Selected by NASA in April 1996, Wilson reported to the Johnson Space Center that August. After completing training and evaluation, the aerospace engineer is qualified for flight as a mission specialist. Currently, Wilson is assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch and is steps closer to achieving her dream of living in space. "I first became interested in space when I was 13 years old," says Wilson, who was married in June to B J McCurdy. "So, my message to young people is to have confidence in your abilities and also have the courage to live your dreams."
AUDRA McDONALD first appeared on stage at age 8, and she has been in the spotlight ever since. By the time she was 28, McDonald had won three Tony Awards. She now is starring in the musical Marie Christine, written specifically for her, at Lincoln Center.
McDonald, 29, grew up in Fresno, Calif., surrounded by music. Five aunts performed in the 1970s as the gospel-singing McDonald Sisters. Both grandmothers were piano teachers. Her mother plays piano and sings, and her father, a high school principal, was a music major. She was a "very sensitive, very dramatic, very hyper child," she says, and her parents sought to channel her energy with singing, dancing and acting lessons. After studying at the Juilliard School, McDonald debuted in Carousel at Lincoln Center and won her first Tony Award (1994). She won a second Tony for her role in Master Class (1996), and No. 3 came for her stellar performance in Ragtime (1998). This month her second album, How Glory Goes, will be released. McDonald also has appeared on television, including several PBS productions.
She is inspired by outstanding women such as Lena Horne, Judy Garland and Maya …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: 21 for the 21st Century. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Ebony. Volume: 55. Issue: 5 Publication date: March 2000. Page number: 68. © 1999 Johnson Publishing Co. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.