Oprah Winfrey started out as the youngest and first African American to broadcast the news in Nashville, Tennessee. She was talk show host for the Oprah show for twenty-five years. She now has the Oprah Winfrey Network Channel. Some of the shows on OWN include: Police Women of Dallas, Unfaithful, Super Soul Sunday, Oprah's Next Chapter, Oprah's life Class, and Six Little McGees. She's known for doing intense interviews with famous people such as: Lady Gaga, Bobby Brown, Paula Deen, Bobbi Kristina, and Lance Armstrong. Oprah’s well known for her generosity which has included giving away cars and giant holiday giveaways. She opened Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa for girls in 2000. The school offers a full education for girls that show leadership skills includes room and board.
Whoopi Goldberg’s careers have included mortuary beautian, actress, comedienne, singer/song writer, LGBT activist, and talk show host. She is known for speaking her mind even when it’s controversial, trademark dreadlocks, and piercings. She won several awards for the skits she performed in The Spook Show. Some movies she acted included: Claire Heart, Ghost, Sister Act, Sister Act 2, The Color Purple and Star Trek. Her movie acting career began with The Color Purple. She’s known for co-producing Hollywood Squares, animation voice for movie characters and The View talk show host. She began advocating for equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people. Whoopi is working on the Ghost the Musical; a Broadway play based on the movie Ghost.
Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist, seamstress, and secretary. She's famous for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. After her being arrested a lot of people boycotted riding the bus for 381 days, which forced the city to stop segregating on public buses. She lost her job as a seamstress and her husband lost his job too, who forced them to leave Alabama She became the secretary for U.S. Representative John Conyer in Michigan.
Dr. Maya Angelou is a poet, educator, civil rights activist, waitress, cook, author, historian, actress, playwright, producer, and director. She dropped out of school to become the first female African American cable car conductor. While growing up she was brutalized racially in St Louis, Missouri. She was a single mom working as a cook and waitress even though her passion was for the arts. She has received thirty honorary degrees. Her poetry is known for being inspirational. She studied five languages while living abroad. Martian Luther King Jr. asked her to be coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was assassinated on her birthday in 1968. She is author to over 30 books including: Great Food, Mom & Me & Mom, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I Shall Not Be Moved, Gather Together in My Name and many more. She still appears on television today.
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was a civil rights activist, journalist, publisher, and elementary school teacher. After her parents died from yellow fever when she was sixteen years old she decided to keep her six siblings together instead of sending them to foster care. She dropped out of college then lied about her age to get a job as a school teacher.She struggled to care for her siblings because the school board paid the white teachers thirty dollars more a month than black teachers, which she resented.
While traveling from Memphis to Nashville, Tennessee she refused to move to the African American rail car so railroad staff threw her off the train even though she paid for a first class ticket.
She advised black people to leave Memphis, TN after her black friends who owned a successful grocery store, which was competition to the white grocery store were killed. The store was invaded by a white mob. Her black friends were jailed after three white men were shot. They were killed by a large lynch mob that invaded the jail before they could defend themselves.
After learning what happened to her friends she became an advocate for equal rights by putting pen to paper. She began researching and writing against lynching, which leads to the newspaper being invaded by a mob. She was up north when the incident occurred. Her life was threatened so she stayed up north instead of returning to Memphis. She fought for equal rights for women working at governments jobs during Woodrow Wilson’s term. After marrying she kept her maiden name, which made her one of first American women to keep her maiden name.
Diana Ross is a singer and actress. She was part of the group The Supremes in the sixties until 1969 when she decided to pursue her career as a soloist. While singing with the Supremes as lead singer she hit the top of the music charts fourteen times. Her career lasted over forty years. Her career didn't come without problems in 1999; she was arrest in Heathrow Airport after getting into a dispute with a security guard. She has received several awards for her singing including: Tony Award, American Music Awards, and Golden Globe for her music. Diana was married twice and has five children. She is a board member for “A better Chance”; a program for children with academic talent.
Professor Faith Ringgold is an artist, author, sculptor, teacher, and professor. Faith was a school teacher for the New York Public schools for eighteen years and now she’s a professor at the University of California in San Diego, California. She has received twenty two honorary doctorate fine arts degree and won seventy-five awards. In 1966, she participated in the first black exhibition in Harlem. She painted her first murals “The Flag is Bleeding and US Postage Stamp Commemorating the Advent of Black Power” in 1966. She participated in an exhibition to benefit Martin Luther King, Junior at the Museum of Modern Art in 1968. Her artwork has been shown in museums around the world. Two murals of her artwork can be found in New York inside the West 125th Street IRT Subway and fifty-two mosaics in California. The murals were created with tiles. She has written sixteen children’s books. Faith is known for her painting quilts that tell stories using a Sharpie marker.
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery in 1849 after working as a house servant and field worker since five years old. A white woman helped her leave the plantation before being sold. She became a conductor for the Underground Railroad using the North Star to guide her. She helped over three hundred slaves move from the south to start a new life without being owned by another human being. They would leave on Saturday night since newspaper notices for slaves could not be placed until Monday morning. She carried a gun for protection and to move people along if they became fatigued or tried to return to the south. In 1856, the south offered a forty thousand dollar reward for her capture, but they did not catch her.
Hattie McDaniel broke into acting full-time while she worked as a restroom attendant while her acting career was slow. She was the first African American woman to be on the radio and received an Oscar for acting in Gone with the Wind. She played Mammy in the movie. She sang a duet in 1934 with Will Rodgers. After acting in several films she became well known by directors, which gave her steady work. She was attacked by the media for taking parts that portrayed blacks in a negative way. Walter White of the NAACP asked African Americans to quit taking acting jobs cooking and cleaning. He felt they were belittling to African Americans. She was one of thirteen children to a Baptist minister and gospel singer.
Whitney Houston is an award winning singer and actress who started singing as a young child at New Hope Baptist Church. She followed behind her mother, cousin and godmother’s footsteps after seeing them sing at church. Whitney’s singing career started when Clive Davis heard her singing in a nightclub. He signed her to Artista Records. Her first album was Whitney Houston, which lead to her name being a household name. Some of her popular songs are I Will Always Love You, I Look to You, and Saving All My Love for You She had one child with singer Bobby Brown. The marriage ended after both battled with substance abuse. She died from coronary artery disease, drowning, and cocaine overdose in 2012. She left behind one daughter and her mother.