10 Black Women Who Inspire Us

by Lianna Samoyedny

From artists to entrepreneurs, let’s talk about some black women who are truly making today’s world a better place. These inspirational black women are truly role models and people we should all look up to.

Nancy Twine

Who could be more inspiring than the youngest black woman to ever launch a product line at Sephora? If you’ve heard of the haircare line Briogeo, then you might know who she is! Nancy is the CEO of Briogeo and strives to create a naturally-based and ingredient-clean line for the modern woman. In Italian, “Brio” means both “vibrant” and “full of life”. The word Latin word “Geo” complements this, as it means, “of Earth and nature”. Combine these two concepts, and you get the unique artistic energy that goes into each product, along with the pure qualities that embody them. Nancy founded this company all on her own – making products out of her tiny Manhattan apartment, using her grandmother’s recipes, and driven solely by the need to create natural hair care products that truly deliver. Different to the other big names you might see when browsing Sephora, her line prides itself on being genuine and going ‘back-to-the-basics’, yet still looks and feels like luxury! She is a perfect example of creating your own success.

Rachel Cargle

If you follow The Loveland Foundation or flip through The New Yorker or The Washington Post, you probably recognise Rachel’s name. Rachel is a public speaker, writer, and activist who strives to empower black women and fight racial injustices. One of her biggest achievements so far was in 2018, when she successfully raised over $10,000 in 24 hours for black women to gain better access to mental health care. She is a huge figure on social media, spreading her message through guided conversations with her nurturing encouragement. Rachel is also currently the founder of The Loveland Foundation – which was a continuation to her original $10k fundraiser. Through this social media platform, she raises money to provide therapy for black women and young girls. It also helps black women find fellowships, residencies, and opportunities.

Morgan Harper Nichols

When you first open Morgan’s website, the first words you see are: “You Belong”, which describes her, and everything she stands for, perfectly. She is a poet, writer, and artist serving the black female community through social media collaboration while fostering support for those who write to her. She creates art, in all different mediums. An example of this is her responses to anonymous letters and stories that she receives from those who write to her site. After their consent and approval, Nichols shares her responses publicly to help spread and empower these voices. She has also published a poetry book, “All Along You Were Blooming”, which overflows with inspiration between each page. If all of this still isn’t enough to spark your desire to do that one thing you’ve always wanted to do, she also has an online shop, Garden24, which has her art on mugs, sketchbooks, journals, shirts, and more!

Nikki Jean

Nikki is a singer-songwriter living in Minneapolis, who is growing in popularity for many reasons. She is creative, witty, beautiful, and puts her heart and soul into everything she makes. After working as a music teacher at “School of Rock” and as a music director, she has relocated to her hometown of Minneapolis. She’s worked with Lupe Fiasco, Bob Dylan, and Carole King, and has since been a part of the Rhymesayers Entertainment label. She has also an acted in On the Outs, which won several awards. Outside of music and film, Nikki has a degree in Sociology and is a true inspiration to all. Known for saying, “music is for everyone”, she has proven to be a successful musician, but also an encouraging and supportive friend to all. She is full of energy and oozes happiness, which seems to be contagious, and continues to inspire us all.

Jacqueline Woodson

If you’re looking for a good book to read while stuck at home, look no further than Red At Bone. Jacqueline tells a powerful story of family legacy while detailing the coming together of two different families whose lives have between intertwined. Sophisticated and articulate, her writing has been compared to Toni Morrison and other great novelists of our time. Jacqueline herself is known for writing inspiring and engaging books for young children and teens as well. She recounts how she started writing and explains that she wrote: “on everything, and everywhere!” She truly encourages us all to love what we create and to keep going, especially when things get tough.

Renae Bluitt

You might scroll across a new documentary on Netflix called, “She Did That.” You can stop scrolling there because you have found a documentary that serves a purpose similar to this list! In this, she explores many black female entrepreneurs and follows their journey of creating and preserving their art, passions, and legacies. Her goal is to accurately represent black women in the media – something that is extremely necessary! She began just over a decade ago with her own blog called, “In Her Shoes”, which details different black women and their businesses and goals. This business blog is just one of her many ongoing achievements. She is a filmmaker and also a content creator for many big brands like Chase, General Motors, Walmart, Luna Bar, and even State Farm!

Ava DuVernay

Ava is the director of one of the most powerful documentaries ever made, 13th, which you can also find on Netflix. She has also directed other acclaimed films such as Middle of Nowhere and Selma. She became the first black woman to be nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Being a writer, producer, director, and distributor for her independent films, she is a busy woman. But this doesn’t stop her from being involved in her community while fighting social injustices. Fearless and witty, she makes an incredible role model for all women.

Misty Copeland

If you’re like me, you love art and seeing other people doing the things that they love and succeeding. Misty is a prime example of this! Being the first black woman to become a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, she is truly making history. Growing up, she was called a prodigy in ballet, and even started professionally performing after just one year. She has performed in The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and travelled all over the world performing. President Obama even appointed her to his fitness and nutrition council! She currently still performs, mentors young children, and is also an author! She published Life in Motion, which was a New York Times bestseller, in 2014.

Cleo Wade

If you want to have something change your perspective and instantly make you feel better, I recommend picking up Cleo’s new book, Heart Talk: The Journal. She is a true artist and believes that art communicates to others most strongly when it’s raw and genuine. So she took her own journaling, notes, and poems and boldly crafted them into a beautiful novel to share with others and spread her love. She even suggests her readers not treat her book as a book, but rather as a friend, which is a phenomenal gift to give someone. Cleo herself is one of the best poets of our generation and inspires creativity in everyone she interacts with.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Brittany is a huge proponent of both culture and justice for black women all over the world. In 2019, she gained recognition from a TED Talk about confidence. Currently, she also has a book coming out soon. She is a political activist in her community and was a member of the Ferguson Uprising. She has since become a member of the Ferguson Commission and proudly served on Obama’s Task Force on Policing. Almost every major magazine has named her an inspiring woman each year, and this year is no different. She has a message and a story that we all should hear.

Freddie Harrel

Freddie defines herself as an explorer and storyteller and certainly is both. She is a French influencer who lives in London and is the founder of RadSwan! RadSwan is a beauty brand (formerly named Big Hair No Care) focused on the Global African Diaspora. Starting out hosting confidence workshops and with a long history of public speaking, Freddie is a truly inspiring woman. Through her social media, she is able to discuss any personal issues and encourages other women to do the same. She is all about community and has truly created a fan-base that is more like a family. From fashion tips, hair care, female empowerment, love and relationships, and ways to follow your dreams, her story will make you want to start your own.

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