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Visionaries - April 24, 2022

7 Powerful Black Women You Don’t Want to Mess With 

Today’s powerful black women are tough and diverse. They’re leading the global climate movement, advocating for social justice, tackling the COVID-19 issue, and eradicating racism. 

These groundbreaking black women, many of whom serve as role models, demonstrate a wide range of brown skin tones. Some are not only celebrities but also leaders who are inspiring many. 

Here are 7 powerful black women you don’t want to mess with.

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1. Ketanji Brown Jackson

President Joe Biden nominated Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson to be the 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on February 25, 2022.

A bipartisan group of Senators confirmed Judge Jackson’s nomination on April 7, 2022. Judge Jackson grew up in Miami, Florida, after being born in Washington, DC. 

Before going to historically black institutions and universities, her parents went to segregated elementary schools. 

Both began their careers as public school teachers before rising through the Miami-Dade Public School System ranks to become leaders and administrators.

Judge Jackson’s father went to law school when she was in preschool. She traced her interest in law back to sitting next to her father in their apartment, doing her preschool homework. At the same time, he worked on his law school homework, reading cases and preparing for Socratic questioning. 

Throughout her upbringing, Judge Jackson was a high achiever. She was the student body president of Miami Palmetto Senior High School and was voted “mayor” of Palmetto Junior High School. 

Judge Jackson, like many other Black women, encountered sceptics. When she told her high school guidance counsellor that she intended to go to Harvard, the counsellor advised her not to aim her “sights too high.”

2. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala 

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the World Trade Organization’s seventh Director-General. 

She became the first woman and the first African to serve as Director-General on March 1, 2021. Her term as president will end on August 31, 2025.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is a global finance expert, economist, and international development professional with over 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala was previously the Chair of the Gavi, Board of Directors. She previously served on the Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. boards of directors. 

She was recently selected as the African Union’s Special Envoy for international financial support in the battle against COVID-19 and the WHO’s Special Envoy for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.

She is a competent negotiator who has facilitated countless agreements that have resulted in win-win situations. 

She is considered a skilled consensus builder and a trustworthy mediator, with governments and other stakeholders trusting her.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala previously served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister twice in 2003-2006 and 2011-2015, and as Foreign Minister for a brief period in 2006, making her the first woman to hold both positions.

3. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, an American television personality, actress, and entrepreneur, is best known for her syndicated daily talk show, one of the most famous in the genre. 

She rose to become one of America’s wealthiest and most powerful women.

Winfrey went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to live with her mother at six. 

She was moved to live with her father in Nashville when she was in her early teens, and he proved to be a beneficial influence on her life. 

Winfrey began her career as a news anchor for the local CBS television station when she was 19 years old. 

She became a reporter and co-anchor for the ABC News affiliate in Baltimore, Maryland, after graduating from Tennessee State University in 1976.

Winfrey excelled at the relaxed and conversational talk-show format, and in 1984 she relocated to Chicago to take over the struggling AM Chicago show. 

The show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1985 due to Winfrey’s honest and engaging attitude. 

The show became the highest-rated television talk show in the United States after being syndicated nationally in 1986, and it won multiple Emmy Awards.

In 1985, Winfrey starred in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s classic “The Color Purple”, which was released in 1982. 

Her critically acclaimed performance paved the way for more opportunities, including a role in the television miniseries “The Women of Brewster Place” in 1989.

Oprah Winfrey’s famous talk show, which aired for 25 years, has evolved into a media and economic empire.

Proceeds from her program, together with profits from films like The Color Purple, Beloved, and Selma, total more than $2 billion when reinvested.

OWN, which is Winfrey’s cable channel, debuted in 2011. Her 25.5 percent stake in the network is valued at around $65 million.

The ‘Oprah effect’ has migrated to Weight Watchers, where she owns a 10% share and serves as a brand ambassador.

As part of her multi-year deal with Apple TV+, she returned to the small screen in March 2020 for an interview show on Covid-19.

4. Serena Williams

Serena Williams, was an American tennis player who, with her forceful style of play, revolutionised women’s tennis and won more Grand Slam singles titles than any other woman or man during the open period.

Williams began playing tennis on public courts in Los Angeles with her father, Richard and turned professional in 1995, one year after her sister Venus. 

The sisters quickly gained a lot of attention due to their tremendous serves, groundstrokes, and outstanding agility.

Many anticipated Venus would be the first Williams sister to win a Grand Slam singles title, but Serena did it in 1999 when she won the US Open.

The sisters won the doubles event at that tournament, and they went on to win 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together throughout their careers.

Serena and Venus won gold in the doubles event at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Serena established herself in 2002, winning the French Open, the United States Open, and Wimbledon, defeating Venus in the finals of all three tournaments. 

Serena Williams, known for her perseverance, won the Australian Open in 2003, completing a career Grand Slam by winning all four of the slam’s component tournaments.

5. Samia Suluhu Hassan

Following the death of President John Magufuli in March 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan became the sixth president of the United Republic of Tanzania. She was Tanzania’s Vice President from 2015 to 2017. 

Between 2010 and 2015, she was the Minister of State in the Vice-Office, President’s responsible for Union Affairs. She was also a Minister in the semi-autonomous government of her native territory of Zanzibar, among her previous government positions from 2000 to 2010.

In August 2021, President Samia inaugurated the immunisation campaign, and she continues to advocate for sound public health practices. 

Her government is actively interacting with regional and international multilateral and bilateral partners. 

The government has also been pressing the climate topic, with President Samia’s participation in the COP 26 sessions in Glasgow in 2021 demonstrating its commitment. 

The government recently announced the removal of educational hurdles, including those that prevented pregnant girls and young mothers from attending formal school. 

This is part of its commitment to helping girls and young women.

6. Marcia Carol Martin Anderson 

Marcia Carol Martin Anderson is a retired United States Army Reserve senior officer. 

She was the first African-American woman to rise through the ranks of the United States Army Reserve as a major general.

Anderson currently works as the Clerk of Court for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin as a civilian.

Anderson graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1979, Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey, in 1986, and the United States Army War College in 2003. 

Her husband is Amos Charles Anderson. She enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Creighton University to fulfil a science requirement.

Anderson made history in 2011 when she became the first African-American woman to be promoted to major general in the United States Army Reserve.

7. Rihanna

Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born in Bridgetown, Barbados. She is a well-known Barbadian and American singer, songwriter, model, dancer, actress, fashion designer, businesswoman, and music producer.

With a Barbadian father and a Guyanese mother, Fenty grew up in Barbados. She grew up listening to reggae and other Caribbean music and American hip-hop and R&B. 

She excelled at singing and won a high-school talent event by performing a Mariah Carey song.

She rose to international fame in the early twenty-first century. She has been recognised for her distinctive and diverse vocals and her trendy appearance. Her cosmetics and fashion lines were equally well-known.

The popularity of the cosmetics company Fenty Beauty has made Rihanna, Barbados’ most renowned export, a billionaire.

In 2020, the cosmetics company she co-owns with LVMH, a French luxury retailer, made more than $550 million in revenue.

The majority of her fortune is invested in a fast-growing cosmetics company.

She also owns a 30% stake in the Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which raised money in February 2021 at a $1 billion valuation.

Her high-fashion apparel brand with LVMH, also known as Fenty, failed miserably and was shut down in February 2021.

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