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From Michelle Obama's leadership to Misty Copeland's graceful foray into American ballet history, Black women continued to set the standard of excellence this year. 

Dominique Hobdy
Dec, 28, 2015

This year Black women continued to break the mold and set the standard for excellence. 

We all watched with tears in our eyes as Viola Davis accepted her Emmy Award and became a sounding board for Black women everywhere when she proclaimed that the only thing separating us from anyone else is opportunity. 

We've witnessed Michelle Obama gracefully lead our country during her last term as the First Lady of the United States of America.

We were elated to see Misty Copeland gracefully dance her way into history, becoming the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater.

We rooted for Serena Williams as she competed for the Grand Slam, commended Marilyn Mosby as she stood up for what was right when it came to Baltimore unrest and the Freddie Gray case, tweeted along with #BlackLivesMatter leader Alicia Garza and watched every second of Shonda Rhimes' Thursday TV takeover. 

In 2015 these women and so many more made us think, cry tears of joy, laugh and most of all, they made us proud. 

So, who do you think was the most influential Black woman of the year? The Essence.com staff has included their picks below. Let us know who you think we missed!

QUESTION:Who do you think was the most influential Black woman of the year? Michelle Obama 62% Misty Copeland 8% Viola Davis 9% Serena Williams 8% Alicia Garza 3% Shonda Rhimes 6% Marilyn Mosby 4% Total votes: 231