Here Are The Black Women Who Made History In 2017

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Veronica Hilbring Dec, 07, 2017

This year was a transformative and historic one for Black women.

From entertainment to activism, Black women made sure their voices and impact were heard worldwide. While they set the tone for resistance this year — Black women voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, led organization in the Women’s March at the top of the year and maintain their position as one of fastest growing group of entrepreneurs — Black women have continued to break barriers and influence the masses.

Check out a few of the remarkable Black women who created history making moments this year.

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The Washington Post/Getty Images

In America’s history, we have never had a Black woman governor. Stacey Abrams is hoping to change that. She currently serves as the House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly and the State Representative for the 89th House District. Abrams filed her candidacy in May 2017. We’ll be watching in 2018.

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David Crotty/Getty Images

Television has been a leader in history making moments. Chicago’s own Lena Waithe wrote her way into the record books this year when she became the first Black woman to win an Emmy Award for comedy writing. Waithe wrote the critically acclaimed “Thanksgiving” episode of 'Master of None' with creator/star Aziz Ansari.

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Tarana Burke is the real MVP! Burke started the #MeToo movement which has encouraged women around the world to share their experiences with sexual assault. It takes a lot of bravery and every woman sharing her story is helping to eradicate rape culture one testimony at a time. 

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Andrea Jenkins

Despite facing huge opposition from various state legislatures and even the President himself, the transgender community refused to stay silent. Andrea Jenkins made history as the first openly transgender Black woman to be elected to public office in the United States. She will serve on the Minneapolis City Council.

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After a storied career in the New Jersey State Assembly, Sheila Oliver was elected as Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. When she is sworn in January, she will be the first Black woman in New Jersey’s history to hold that position.

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Coutesy of Miss USA

Halima Aden was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and worked hard to become the first hijab-wearing model to cover Vogue Arabia. Aden has long been a history maker. In 2015, she was the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a burkini and a hijab. Aden signed with IMG Models and has participated in Milan Fashion Week and London Modest Fashion Week.

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NBC/Getty Images

This year was a breakthrough year for Tiffany Haddish. She stole every scene in 'Girls Trip' and instantly became our best friend in our head. After the women-led comedy hit $100 million, Haddish followed up that success with a comedy special and now her first book, 'The Last Black Unicorn.' In November, she became the first Black woman in stand up to host Saturday Night Live. She ready!

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This year, Simone Askew marched into the history books when she became the first Black woman to hold the position of First Captain of the U.S. Military Academy’s Corps of Cadets. If that wasn’t history making in itself, the 20-year-old was recently named a Rhodes Scholar. You go girl!

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Courtesy of Dallas Police

The city of Dallas made history with the appointment of Ulysha Renee Hall as the city’s first Black woman police chief. Raised in Detroit, Hall’s father was a police officer killed in the line of duty. Hall earned two master’s degrees at the University of Detroit Mercy before joining the Detroit Police Department. The residents of Dallas are in good hands.

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Octavia Spencer took home the Oscar for her role as Minny Jackson in The Help. But it was her role as mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in Hidden Figures that solidified her mark in Hollywood. Spencer earned Academy Award, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for the role. She became the first Black woman to earn a second Oscar nomination after winning an Oscar.

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Dee Rees’ debut feature film 'Pariah' won her the Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough Director in 2011. But it’s her book adaptation of 'Mudbound' for Netflix and in limited release that has critics talking Oscar buzz. The period drama starring Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan and Jason Mitchell is poised to become the first Netflix film to be nominated for an Academy Award.

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This week, Vi Lyles was sworn in as Charlotte North Carolina's first Black woman mayor. Lyles served as Charlotte’s assistant city manager for 30 years. Lyles own father was unable to vote until he was 44 years old when the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965.

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Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Writer, professor and novelist Jesmyn Ward was a recipient of the famed MacArthur ‘genius grant’ from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She also received a second National Book Award for her acclaimed third novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing.


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