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The New Generation of Inspiring Black Women

Since 1976, every February has come to be known as a month of celebration and remembrance of the many black Americans of the past along with the contributions and accomplishments with which they enriched history. Today is the last of that honorable month.

As we continue remember great women like Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, and Audre Lorde of the past, we also want to highlight a few of the inspirational black women making waves throughout pop culture, politics, and fashion in the present.

Ava DuVernay

First off, if you haven’t seen Selma, you’re doing something wrong. DuVernay is the director and co-writer of the Martin Luther King Jr. film and is the first black female director to have their film nominated for an Oscar. Not bad for her second feature. And by the sound of her next project, a love story and murder mystery set during Hurricane Katrina, DuVernay’s a director you need to keep in mind for the future. The Academy Awards may have snubbed DuVernay herself for individual recognition (and the entire Selma cast for that matter), but we definitely won’t be.

Tracy Reese (R)

Since launching her own label in 1998, Reese has wasted no time in becoming an established and lauded designer in the fashion world. With a style that at once embraces femininity and eschews a recognizable retro influence, Reese’s clothing can be found at many major retailers like Anthropologie or Neiman Marcus, as well as her own two stores located in New York and Tokyo. One of her biggest claims to fame might just be her most famous client, First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. Speaking of which…

One woman who needs no introduction, Michelle Obama has worked alongside her husband for the past 7 years, advocating for many of the issues affecting America, including women’s rights and poverty and health awareness. As a woman with one of the most powerful positions in the world, Obama isn’t ashamed of showing her more humorous side, especially when it comes to promoting healthy nutrition (and getting to meet Big Bird).

Rashida Jones

Daughter of musician Quincy Jones, she has come to prove her talent and worth beyond having a famous father. She’s had major supporting roles in I Love You, Man and The Social Network and if you’ve kept up with good television at all, then you’ll recognize her from The Office as well as Parks and Recreation, where she plays Amy Poehler’s sidekick. But, don’t be fooled into thinking Jones is just a sidekick, having created her own comic bookco-written a screenplaydirected a music video for Sara Bareilles, and handled ignorance with tact, she is a woman to keep an eye on.

Santi White (Santigold)

Last but not least, Santi White, better known as Santigold, is a singer-songwriter of the electronic pop persuasion. Starting out in the punk band Stiffed, Santi would eventually move into her own successful music persona and blend a New Wave sound with an 80s pop feel that has people abuzz for her mezzo-soprano vocals. You might have heard her on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock, check out the video here for her song Disparate Youth and prepare to become a fan.


By David Grom / Photos: DuVernayReeseObamaJones and White

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