Black Women’s History Week 2021

Featured image: Photo by Cincinart on Shutterstock . Edited in Affinity Designer. Audio: recorded with Voice Recorder by quality apps, edited in Audacity.

4 for Now

Established by Feminista Jones in 2018, Black Women’s History Week runs from February 25 to March 3, spanning the end of Black History Month and the beginning of Women’s History Month. These are the Black women I celebrate this week:

Day 1: A Black Woman You Admire

Bessie Coleman. Bessie’s brother teased her that French women could fly while women in the US couldn’t, so she went to France to get her license. She returned to the US and gained fame as a “barnstormer” (trick pilot). She performed around the country, refusing to participate in shows where Black audience members were segregated.

Bessie Coleman stands on the wheel of her plane.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons. Colorized by Algorithmia.

Day 2: A Favorite Moment in Black Women’s History

Stacey Abrams, in 2018, became the first African American woman to be a major-party nominee for governor in the US. Ultimately, she lost the election, but as she wrote in Lead from the Outside, “One of the aspects of holding power is understanding the long game—that battles add up over time and create space for others to be emboldened to act.”

Day 3: A Black Woman You Admire from Another Country

Valdecir Nascimento has been a women’s rights advocate in Brazil for over 40 years. She helped organize the 2015 Marcha de Mulheres Negras (Black Women’s March) and has spoken before the UN Commission on the Status of Women about the Black women’s movement in Brazil.

Photo by UN Women on Flickr. Shared under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Day 4: A Black Woman in Your Life Who Has Made You Better

I worked with an intelligent, energetic, and fearless young Black woman who wanted to be the first female MLB player. We didn’t work together long, but she made a lasting impression on me. I think of her whenever I’m doubting myself.

Day 5: A Favorite Black Woman Artist

Kihmberlie is a photographer who creates stunning photos, and she does it all herself. You can see her work on both Twitter and Instagram.

Day 6: A Powerful Quote from a Black Woman

Sojourner Truth, in her ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ speech, said, “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!”

Day 7: Celebrate Yourself

This theme is meant for Black women, so if you’re a Black woman, have at it.

Photo by NeonShot on Shutterstock.

One Last Thing for Us White Folks

It’s easy to participate in something like this with a blog or social media post, but it can’t stop there. Performative antiracism changes nothing. Here are things I’m doing that others can do, too:

  • Speaking up when witnessing racist words or actions.
  • Signing petitions supporting actions that positively affect Black folks.
  • Writing to representatives at every level of government to demand action supporting Black folks.
  • Sharing stories and images of Black joy and creativity rather than images of Black death and criminality.

As with Black History Month, this isn’t the only time of year we should acknowledge and celebrate Black women. It’s a reminder of how Black women have shaped our history and our culture. Search #BlackWomensHistoryWeek on Instagram or Twitter for more.

4 for Later

  1. Learn more about Feminista Jones and her work via her Linktree, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
  2. From where I stand: “We are the solution in Brazil, not the problem” by Valdecir Nascimento (3-minute read).
  3. Marcha das Mulheres Negras: The Radical and Feminist Act of Reclaiming Space and Re-writing the Narrative by Maggie Mapondera (7-minute read)
  4. Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman? from the Women’s Rights National Historical Park (speech itself is 3-minute read; whole article is 5-6 minute read)