As we celebrate the life and legacy of Whitney Houston, we cannot overlook her tremendous achievements both as an artist, and as a Black woman.

The Newark, New Jersey native had numerous firsts — including becoming the first Black woman to grace the cover of Seventeen Magazine, the first female artist with three No. 1 hits for a debut album, and the most-awarded female singer in history with 415 awards, including six Grammys and 22 American Music Awards.

With her unforgettable talent, Houston stood among the countless Black women whose hard work and determination brought us to where we are today. In celebration of Black History Month, we present to you 40 boundary-breaking Black women who did their part to better our culture.