Empowerment is Healthy!
1954-Present: Media mogul, talk show host, author, actress, producer, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey rose from an abusive childhood to be a world-wide icon. As a self-made multi-billionaire, she is one of the richest African-American people in the world. Her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show which ran for 25 years, was the highest rated show of its kind in history and accredited with creating the platform for open and intimate media communication. She founded Oprah’s Angel Network to support nonprofits around the world and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership academy for Girls in South Africa, providing educational opportunities for young women throughout the region; by 2012 she had donated $400 million to educational causes. In 2013 she donated an additional $12 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom that same year.
1985-: Israeli-Jewish actress and model Gal Godat is most famously known for her recent roles as Wonder Woman. After winning the 2004 Miss Israel pageant and then serving for the Israel Defense Forces as a combat instructor, Gadot continued her education by studying law. A mother of two, Gadot advocates for movements such as the Women’s March and equal access to education.
1907-1954: Influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, artist Frida Kahlo famously used her paintings to question identity, gender, class, and racial lines. Using a mixture of realism and fantasy, Kahlo’s work often included self-portraits which tied together her radical themes. Disabled from early sickness and later further crippled due to an accident, Kahlo was forced to abandon her promising future headed towards medical school and lived the rest of her life grappling with pain. While during her lifetime Kahlo was known for nothing more than being the wife of a notorious muralist, her uncompromising depictions of the female experience leaves her with a legacy that continues to grow; one that also leaves Diego Rivera as now being known as her husband.
1944-: American political activist, academic, and author Angela Davis created a name for herself with her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party. In 1970, Davis was famously charged with the correspondents of a murder that transpired in a courtroom. While she was never at the scene of the crime, her involvement in previously owning the gun used in the murder was said to make her guilty of kidnapping and murder. After eventually being detained, Angela experienced harsh mistreatment while being held during her trial. Her detainment sparked the national movement “free Angela Davis” which questioned the racists tendencies of the judicial system. After eventually being acquitted, Angela went on an international speaking tour. As the eventual Director of the University of California Santa Cruz’s Feminist Studies Department, Angela Davis conducted research on feminism, African-American studies, critical theory, Marxism, pop music, social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment in prisons.
1951-: Idahoan teacher and former NASA astronaut, Barbra Morgan participated in the Teacher in Space program and trained as a Mission Specialist before flying on the STS-118 space flight and serving as a robot arm operator and transfer coordinator for the 2007 mission. As an Elementary English and Science teacher in McCall and Donnelly Idaho, Barbra was selected as the backup candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Project in 1985. While underneath NASA’s Education Division she spoke publicly, designed national curricula, and served on the National Science Foundation’s Federal Task Force for Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering. Barbra resumed her position as an educator at Boise State University in 2008, and during the same year received the Friend of Education award from the National Education Association.
1921-: American business women, interior designer, and style icon, Iris Apfel famously runs to the beat of her own drum. Working on various design projects, including the renovation of the White House for nine US presidents, Apfel claimed her status as an icon by stepping out of the conformities of typical women’s fashion. Currently at the young age of 96, Iris Apfel continues to work as a champion of personal expression. Recently starring in ad campaigns, showcasing her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and collaborating with technology startup WiseWear in creating a line of Smart Jewelry, Apfel refuses to slow down, calling herself “the world’s oldest teenage.”
1914-2000: Austrian-born actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr created the foregrounds for what we now recognize as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. Publicly recognized as one of the great beauties of her time and often promoted as the “world’s most beautiful woman” for movies, Hedy’s real-life personality contrasted her damsel screen image. A woman of great sophistication, Hedy reportedly adopted inventing to relieve the boredom which she experienced due to her many type-casted roles as a sensual figure with few lines. Self-taught, Hedy’s radio guidance system which spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology was adopted by the US government in the 1960’s and originally used for specialized warfare.
Queen Elizabeth II
1926- : Becoming Queen of the United Kingdom in 1952 at the age of 25, Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Striving to make the Royal Family more modern, a young Elizabeth began her public service by serving in the Second World War under the Auxiliary Territorial Service. After being crowned Queen, she traveled to countries other monarchs had never gone before, helping to lead the British Empire’s transition into commonwealth. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth signed the Commonwealth Charter, which endorsed gender equality and further enforced the monarch’s support of not only equal rights, but equal access to the throne.
1922-1965: African American actress, singer and dancer Dorothy Dandridge is remembered to this day for her landmark performances which have helped shape modern pop culture. In 1954, Dandridge became the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Carmen Jones. In 1957, Dandridge was only a few stars that publicly took a stand against tabloid exploitation and libel, eventually testifying in court against the media-giant Hollywood Research Inc. Dandridge later went on to portray roles which defied stigmas against interracial relationships and slave rebellion.
1934-: Primatologist, anthropologist, and animal rights activist Jane Goodall is best known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions among primates in Tanzania. First embarking on her scientific journey in 1960, Goodall secured her place in history by overcoming her lack of collegiate training and observed social and cognitive behaviors scientific doctrines previously overlooked. Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and named a United Nations Messenger of Peace, Goodall continues to fight for animal rights, political justice, and the protection of the environment.
1939-2016: Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei became the first woman to summit Mount Everest in 1970, as well as the first woman to summit all Seven Summits by climbing the highest peaks on every continent by 1992. Born into a large family, Junko was considered a weak and frail child. Overcoming this, she studied literature and education at Showa Women’s University where she was a member of the mountain climbing club. After graduating, she formed the first Ladies Climbing Club in Japan, at a time when Japanese women were expected to serve their male coworkers. While her desire to climb and speak out for women’s equality was considered shameful within her culture, Junko aspired to encourage other women to follow their passions. Junko continued to advocate for women’s equality and nature conservation and in all climbed 70 major mountains.
Marie Curie 1867-1934: Famously known for her groundbreaking work in radioactivity, Marie Curie paved the way for the discovery of the neutron, multiple elements, and artificial radioactivity. Becoming the first woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in 1903, she is also the only woman to ever win two Nobel Prizes, succeeding herself in 1911. As a woman who advocated for her own education, Curie held the title of Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences in Sorbonne, France becoming the first woman to ever hold this title.
1997-: In 2014 at the age of just 17, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person in history to ever be awarded the Nobel Prize. Born in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan where the Taliban began attacking young girls for attending school, Malala began speaking out for women’s rights by writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC, at the age of 11. After going public with her activism, Malala was targeted by a Taliban gunman in 2012, and was shot in the face. The murder attempt sparked international support, triggering further awareness for women’s rights and access to education. Surviving the attack, Malala returned to her activism starting a school for female Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
1933-: Japanese performance artist, writer, feminist, and peace activist Yoko Ono is the famed widow of singer-songwriter John Lennon, and proponent for self-expression. Launching herself into the public eye in 1969, Ono and Lennon famously used their honeymoon as a stage for public protest against the Vietnam War. More than just a widow, Ono became an acclaimed contemporary artist known internationally for her work and has made significant philanthropic contributions for art, peace, and disaster relief.
1260-1306: Warrior Princess Khutulun was the daughter of the most powerful ruler of Central Asia of the time, and notorious for her superb physical strength and political involvement. Assisting her father in multiple battles, Khutulun broke tradition and became renowned for her horsemanship, skills in hand-to-hand combat, and political support that she provided her father. Insisting that any future suitor who wished to marry her would have to first defeat her in a wrestling match, Khutulun is said to have collected a herd of over 10,000 horses in winnings from her suitors. To this day Khutulun is remembered in Mongol culture as a famous athlete and warrior.
Marsha P. Johnson
1945-1992: Known as an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ and African American rights, self-identified drag queen Marsha Pay It No Mind Johnson was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STARR) and prominent figure in the LGBT Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. Modeling for famed artist Andy Warthol, Marsha P. was a well-known public figure and outspoken AIDS activist. Joining the Gay Liberation Front, Marsha P. was a prominent figure in the Stonewall rebellion and sit-in protest at Weinstein Hall at New York University. Up until her controversial death, Marsha P. continued to advocate for LGBTQ liberation and appeared on multiple film portrayals of her own life.