One month out of the year, the United States has deemed February "Black History Month" to honor all that is, Black history. During this month, we honor any and everyone who has striven for a change in the Black community, those who have had significant impact on the lives of all Americans, and those who are actively working to make a difference in this community for current and future generations to come.
A role that is often overlooked is the role that Black women have played in the making of Black history - the role that they continue to play to ensure that their voices are heard and their actions are creating change.
"Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, Rosa Parks and her determination to sit at the front of the bus, Maya Angelou and her beautiful words which continue to move and affect so many. They did not wait for someone else to come along but rather took matters into their own hands and created the change themselves. They are, no doubt, heroes. The impact that Black women have had should never go unnoticed. These women are the reason Black women today feel so compelled to make changes for the future." (Servati, 2017)
In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting 14 African American women whose contributions impacted business, finance and the U.S. economy. We invite you to celebrate each one by learning more, and sharing their achievements and journeys with others.
Let us know who you are highlighting this month. We will be glad to share their stories as well.
All of us at Bailey Wealth Advisors want to take this opportunity to inspire while we admire. We encourage you to do the same.
1. Ursula Burns
Burns is the chairwoman of Xerox and served as CEO through 2016. Early in her time Xerox, Burns publicly disagreed with a company vice president. She thought she'd be fired but the risky move paid off; Burns moved into an executive assistant role that introduced her to the c-suite and changed the course of her career.
2. Beyonce Knowles - Carter
Known as "Queen Bey" to fans, the global music and entertainment icon has taken home 20 Grammy awards and is worth an estimated $290 million. In her 2016 hit "Formation" she called herself a "black Bill Gates in the making."
3. Carla Harris
Harris is the vice chairman of wealth management at Morgan Stanley and a senior client advisor for the financial giant. The influential Wall Street exec was appointed by President Barack Obama chair of the National Women's Business Council in 2013.
"Don't be distracted by anything anybody else tells you," Harris tells CNBC.
4. Janice Bryant Howroyd
As a teenager, Howroyd was one of the first black students to attend her North Carolina hometown's previously segregated high school. As founder and CEO of staffing agency ACT-1, she became the first black woman to own a billion-dollar company. ACT-1 is also the largest certified woman-minority-owned staffing agency in the U.S.
When she started out, she tells CNBC, all she had was a "brain, a phone and a phonebook."
5. Madam C.J. Walker
In the early 1900s, Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C.J. Walker, turned her line of homemade hair care products into an eponymous business empire that's still active today. At the time of her death she was widely recognized as the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S.
"Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come," Walker once said. "Get up and make them."
6. Tyra Banks
Besides being a supermodel, Banks is an entrepreneur who changed the beauty business. She created the hit TV show "America's Next Top Model," starred in an Emmy-award winning talk show and launched a beauty company.
The questions that motivate her, she tells CNBC, are "What hasn't been done before? What is there to conquer? What is there to innovate? What is there to create?"
7. Tina Wells
Wells is the CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, which works with major clients like Dell and Levo. She is a member of the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council and is the academic director of Wharton's Leadership in the Business World program, a program for high school students.
"I never had an excuse to not finish what I started," she tells the United Nations Foundation.
8. Cathy Hughes
Hughes is the co-founder of Radio One, a media company that operates more than 50 radio stations. The media mogul became the first African-American woman to chair a publicly held corporation when Radio One went public in 1999.
9. Shonda Rhimes
Rhimes is arguably the most important person in American television right now. She is the woman behind some of the top-rated programming of the past decade, including "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away with Murder."
Her bestselling book "Year of Yes" details how she overcame a deep fear of public appearances and became confident in her creativity.
10. Sheila Johnson
Johnson co-founded BET, the cable television news and entertainment network targeted at black audiences, and is worth an estimated $710 million. She is managing partner of the WNBA's Washington Mystics and the CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts.
11. Iman Abdulmajid
Iman, born Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid, is a model and a cosmetics pioneer for women of color.
Her makeup line, Iman Cosmetics, encourages women to "celebrate your skintone" and is sold nationwide at retailers including Target, CVS and Wal-Mart. The Somali-born entrepreneur also has several popular fashion and jewelry lines on HSN.
12. Rosalind Brewer
Brewer served as president and CEO of Sam's Club in the U.S for more than five years before stepping down in January.
Before leading the grocery company, Brewer worked for more than two decades at Kimberly-Clark and was a regional vice president at Wal-Mart.
13. Oprah Winfrey
The original queen of daytime grew up in poverty and dropped out of college to pursue a career in media. On "The Oprah Winfrey Show," she developed the sincere, confessional interview style for which she'd become famous. The program became the highest-rated talk show in television history and led to the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network, of which she is CEO.
In the fall of 2017, Winfrey will join "60 Minutes" as a special correspondent.
14. Michelle Obama
An attorney and advocate for youth and health issues, Obama was the country's first black first lady. Passionate about nutrition, she partnered with many of the country's leading brands such as Disney, Subway and Pepsico to promote healthy activities and food products for young people.
Obama was a key player in the Food and Drug Administration's decision to include added sugars on food labels, changing the food industry.
We honor and appreciate you all.
Ward, M. (2018). From Beyonce to Janice Bryant Howroyd, 14 black women who changed business and finance. [online] CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/14/from-beyonce-to-janice-bryant-howroyd-14-black-women-who-changed-business-and-finance.html.
Servati, D. (2017). Honoring black women during Black History Month. [online] The Daily Collegian. Available at: http://www.collegian.psu.edu/opinion/columnists/article_892ef192-ef3c-11e6-a6fe-9bc689defaec.html.