By Kayla Walker
In honor of Black History Month, Clark Atlanta University Girl Up Campus leader Kayla Walker shares her top five favorite badass black feminists and activists leading the way for women everywhere. These awesome women leaders should be celebrated this month, and every month.
Photo Source: BK Reader
Julianne Malveaux. Dr. Julianne Malveaux is definitely the most badass of them all. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this woman not only once but twice and both occasions have been during my matriculation at Clark Atlanta University. The first, having her as a guest speaker during our Founder’s Day convocation in Spring 2016 and the second, having her as a moderator for our Why HBCUs Matter panel discussion event in Fall 2016. During both events, she was able to move the crowd and present a sense of purpose and innovative thinking for not only students, but faculty, staff, and special guests.
Dr. Malveaux is an author, social and political commentator, businesswoman, and also served as the 15th president of Bennett College, America’s oldest historically black college for women, from 2007 to 2012. While at Bennett College she focused on four key areas for her administration: women’s leadership, entrepreneurship, excellence in communications, and global awareness. Dr. Cornel West even describes her as “the most iconoclastic public intellectual in the country”. She has appeared on television shows such as CNN and BET and has also written many works which have been published in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education, Ms. magazine, Essence magazine, and The Progressive. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and continues to serve her community in a vast array of capacities.
Photo Source: University of Utah
Alice Walker. Aside from her most critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker is an activist who worked diligently during the Civil Rights Movement by participating in the 1963 March on Washington as well as spending much of her time volunteering to register black voters in Mississippi and Georgia. Not only is she an activist but she is also a feminist. Her feminism advocacy is geared mainly toward women of color in which she created the term “womanism” to mean “black feminism” to unite colored feminists under one term.
Through her numerous novels and short stories, Alice Walker has been able to not only cultivate a nation but empower women of color to take action and have their voices heard. She has traveled around the world to bring awareness to various causes including her group Code Pink in which her along with 60 other female activists traveled to Gaza in response to the Gaza War and is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Photo Source: Freeman Institute
Mary McLeod Bethune. Mary McLeod Bethune is an American educator, philanthropist, humanitarian and civil rights activist and is also the founder of the National Council for Negro Women (NCNW). In 1935, she brought together representatives of 28 different organizations to work to improve the lives of black women and their communities. Through NCNW, she was able to bring awareness to and demonstrate the importance of black women in politics and democratic roles.
Through her roles in numerous organizations, she left a legacy of empowerment and was also a close friend to Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. She was also very active during the Civil Rights Movement and organized the first officer candidate schools for black women who wanted to join the military. She has numerous awards and honors and was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Photo Source: Mic
Angela Davis. Angela Davis is most known for her involvement in the Black Panther Party during the Civil Rights Movement but she is also a political activist, academic scholar, and author. As a member of the Black Panther Party, she participated in a number of sit-ins, protests, and marches and was arrested on numerous occasions for her participation. She was also a professor at a number of colleges and universities including the University of California, Los Angeles, San Francisco State University, Syracuse University, University of California, Santa Cruz and Rutgers University where she was known as a radical feminist and activist.
Angela Davis now lectures at numerous colleges and universities around the country discussing topics such as feminism, black activism, and racial injustices.
Photo Source: The Certain Ones Magazine
Nikki Giovanni. Nikki Giovanni is a well-renowned poet, writer, activist, and educator. She is an advocate for social issues and children’s literature and has written a number of anthologies and nonfiction essays. She was an author for the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and was influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement with many of her poems. Some of her most famous poems include Love Is, Choices, Habits, All I Gotta Do, and Knoxville Tennessee.
She now tours nationwide and frequently speaks out against hate-motivated violence and what we can be doing now to take action. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and continues to empower people of color through her works.
Kayla Walker is a Girl Up Campus leader at Clark Atlanta University.