Black women shined bright in 2013. Everywhere we looked, sisters were charting their own successful paths and reminding us that nothing can get in our way when we're determined to reach the top. This year, we met the world's richest Black woman (and it's not Oprah), a Black woman became the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Olivia Pope, we mean Kerry Washington, was certainly among the most powerful women on our TV screens. Here are 25 reasons Black women rocked in 2013.
Black Women Shined on Primetime
The fact that two Black women were the leads on primetime ratings juggernauts Scandal and Sleepy Hollow didn't go unnoticed. Actresses Kerry Washington and Nicole Beharie set a new standard for Black actresses on the small screen. It's no wonder Washington's Olivia Pope was crowned number two on TIME's most influential fictional characters of 2013.
Michelle Obama Made a Splash on Social Media
This year, the most important woman in the world joined the rest of us chattering on Twitter and Instagram. Here, in her first Instagram she wrote, "My first instagram! So inspired and so impressed by these extraordinary young women. -mo #FLOTUSinAfrica"
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Amber Riley Did That!
After 11 long weeks and battling a chronic knee injury, Amber Riley (and dance partner Derek Hough) won Season 17 of Dancing with the Stars. "I want women of all sizes out there to know you can do whatever you put your mind to," said Riley after her win.
Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images
Oprah Had Another Brilliant Year
Her OWN network broke even in 2013, she starred in the box-office smash The Butler, she received an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Harvard University, got nominated for a SAG Award, and lots more. Oprah never fails to inspire.
Tawanda Jones Helped Our Girls Through Dance
Not content to sit back and watch girls fall through the cracks of an inner-city communty plagued by violence, Camden, New Jersey native Tawanda Jones started the Camden Sophisticated Sisters Drill Team to give them a positive alternative. This year she became a finalist for CNN's "Hero of the Year."
Shonda Rhimes Has More Shows Up Her Sleeve
If you watch Scandal, then you'll know why three more dramas from Shonda Rhimes and her team are like the perfect gift from TV heaven. Did we mention Rhimes is the most powerful Black showrunner in television?
Photo by Jennifer Graylock/ Getty
We Met the Talented Lupita Nyong'o
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o is certainly number one on everyone's list of breakout stars of 2013 thanks to her outstanding performance as Patsey in the film 12 Years a Slave. “I haven’t yet found a suitable word in the English language that captures how it feels,” Nyong’o recently told EW of her newfound success. “It’s overwhelming. It’s exciting. It’s humbling. It’s a lot.”
Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton Stood Tall for Her Daughter Hadiya
When her daughter Hadiya was shot and killed in a Chicago park shortly after attending President Obama's second inauguration, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton decided her child's story was the nation's story. Cowley-Pendleton took to the national stage to advocate for tougher gun laws. We salute her, and her husband Nathaniel.
Photo by David W. Johnson
Black Teen Pregnancy Rate Reached Historic Lows
Pregnancy rates among Black teens fell by 51 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. "The decline has been fueled by three factors: more teens are waiting to have sex; they also report fewer sexual partners and better use of contraception," said Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Who Ruled the World? Beyonce
In what will surely be dubbed one of the greatest moves by any artist in history, Beyonce released a suprise album without marketing or a publicity machine. She made iTunes (and music) history by selling close to a million copies in less than a week. Who run the world?
Queen Latifah Came to Daytime, with a Little Help from Jada
We love a good story of sister-friends doing big things together. Jada Pinkett Smith is the executive producer behind Queen Latifah's succesful daytime TV talk show.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs Became President of the Academy
Cheryl Boone Isaacs was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the governing body behind the Oscars), making her the first Black person, and third woman, to ever hold the title.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/ Getty
Folorunsho Alakija Became the World's Richest Black Woman
A former secretary, Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija worked her way to the top. In 2013, she replaced Oprah Winfrey as the richest Black woman in the world with an estimated fortune of $7.3 billion.
Photo by Bennett Raglin/ Getty
Robin Roberts Bounced Back
Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images
Antoinette Tuff Saved Lives
When a would-be shooter walked into her school armed with an AK-47, Atlanta bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff talked 20-year-old talking shooter Michael Brandon Hill into surrendering to police. “It’s gonna be alright sweetie, I want you to know that I love you," Tuff told Hill. "We all go through something in life. You’re gonna be OK.”
Photo by Theo Wargo/ Getty
Serena Williams Stayed on Top
Two years after suffering a pulmonary embolism, Serena Williams was back on top, winning her second French Open and fifth U.S. Open. Her U.S. Open victory increased her Grand Slam singles title count to 17, one title less than tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert who both won 18.
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We Honored Rosa Parks
This year the civil rights pioneer was honored with a stamp on the 100th anniversary of her birth. Months later, President Obama honored her with a statue in the Capitol Building's Statuary Hall.
Issa Rae Is Building Her Empire
From Youtube sensation to comedy writer, Internet star Issa Rae is spreading her wings to television. This year, the Awkward Black Girl creator landed a deal to write a pilot for HBO and she's working on a book.
Photo by Ray Tamarra/ Getty
Rihanna Broke the Record for Most Number Ones
Love or loathe her, Rihanna is one of the most successful pop artists of our time. The 25-year-old singer recently broke the record for most number one pop songs in Billboard charts. She now has a total of 13 number ones, tying only with Michael Jackson and passing Madonna and Katy Perry.
The TLC Biopic Triumphed
The TLC biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story became VH1's highest-rated telecast in more than five years. We couldn't be more delighted in seeing a story of sisterhood and resilience on the small screen.
Black Twitter Never Let Anything Off the Hook
Whether it was giving Fast Company magazine a friendly reminder that there are smart Black women on Twitter, or examining stereotypes surrounding young Black women with the #Fasttailedgirls hashtag, "Black Twitter" made sure our community was always in control of the conversation.
Tina Turner Tied the Knot...At 73
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Miu Miu Celebrated Black Women's Friendships
The fashion house's 9-minute short—starring Gabrielle Union, Alfre Woodard, Goapele, Adepero Oduye and shot by filmmaker Ava DuVernay—weaved a beautiful tale of friendship and the transformative power of sisterhood.
Rachel Jeantel Didn't Waver
For her testimony at George Zimmerman's trial this past summer, Rachel Jeantel was mocked and belittled on social media and beyond. But the 19-year-old didn't let it phase her. During an appearance on Piers Morgan she called the jury's not-guilty plea "total B.S." "No offense to the jury, they old, that's old school people. We in a new school," she told Morgan.
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Gwen Ifill Filled the Anchor's Seat
Earlier this year, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff signed on to host PBS' "NewsHour," making them the first women to co-anchor a national daily news program on television.