Official 2013 portrait of first lady Michelle Obama. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House photo

A proclamation for April to be Black Women’s Heritage Month was made in 2016 by the Atlanta City Council. This proclamation was brought about by the efforts of one African American woman, Sha Battle, an information technology consultant. Battle expanded this April focus to become the International Black Women’s Heritage Month, to include all women of African descent. (see

Even though the timing was coincidental, African American Katanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice on April 7, the first African American female to hold this position. USA progress.

Also worth noting, although it did not occur in April, is the fact that Kamala Harris is the first woman, first woman of African American heritage and first woman of Asian heritage to be elected to the position of Vice President of the USA. USA progress. 

There is a Yoruba (African) saying: “If we stand tall, it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.”  

On Dec. 30, 2021, the Chicago Tribune printed an article “36 Black women who changed American history.” Included were actresses, writers, musicians, politicians, lawyers, scientists, women’s suffragists, civil rights activists and sports stars. Below are quotes from some of these African American women, taken from A Woman’s Book of Inspiration by Carol Kelly-Gangi: 

“You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way.” (Lena Horne, 1917-2010; American singer, actress, dancer and activist) 

“A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham and she becomes the secretary of state.” (Condoleezza Rice, 1954- ; American political scientist, diplomat, former U.S. Secretary of State) 

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. …” (Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, speaking of her years in the White House; 1964- ; American lawyer, writer, humanitarian)

“As women, we must stand up for each other.” (Michelle Obama)

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.” (Michelle Obama)

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” (Alice Walker, 1944- ; American novelist, poet and activist)

“Women have to summon up courage to fulfill dormant dreams.” (Alice Walker) 

“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step.”  (Rosa Parks, 1913-2005; American civil rights activist)

To always be remembered is the uneducated African American activist Fannie Lou Hamer’s words: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Ms. Hamer (1917-1977) was a voting and women’s rights activist, community organizer and a leader in the civil rights movement. She was Co-founder of the Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. She would not be silenced. (Wikipedia) “One day I know the struggle will change.” (

Black women all over the world must energize themselves and others to support women’s rights, and especially Black women’s rights. April is not the only month in which to do so. 

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...

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