March is Women’s History Month. Many deserving women have been remembered for their accomplishments and deservedly so. Those who have come before us and passed on are sure sources of strength and inspiration. Amelia Earhart, Zora Neal Hurston, Clara Barton, Coco Chanel, Bebe Moore Campbell, Julia Child, the list goes awesomely on and on.
The thing is, most women I know want to smell their flowers while they are alive. I love a good tribute at an awards show, but how great was it seeing Diana Ross being honored at this year’s American Music Awards while she is still with us and can sing her own songs? Pretty amazing, right?
In the spirit of honoring our modern day sheroes while they’re still alive, we decided to highlight amazing women who are currently doing great things. You may have heard of some of these women, or maybe not. Either way, they deserve a serious shout out for inspiring us all right NOW!
Amanda de Cadent, Girl Gaze Founder
As a fashion photographer, former “Wild Child” (whatever that is), and ex-wife of Duran Duran’s John Taylor (the hot one!) she has photographed some of the most famous faces in the Rock ‘n’ Roll and fashion world. But her book, “It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women” is not about all of that. It’s a collection of essays, some irreverent some a little lewd, that show her coming of age journey and reveals how she grew into the woman she is now from the girl she was then. This innate understanding of the journey that is womanhood prompted her to start #girlgaze. It’s Instagram popularity inspired the publication of a book by the same name, and gives girls an outlet to express themselves and show the world though their eyes.
By showing us the world as they see it, they actually show us who we really are.
It is an important project because girls all over the world create and share their Instagram images. And it’s not always pretty. Pretty powerful stuff, indeed.
Edythe Boone, Muralist/Community Organizer
When Malcolm X was shot at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, NY on February 21, 1965 she was living, literally, around the corner. She found the spectacle of his unbelievable assassination gut wrenching but did not let that discourage or diminish her artist’s spirit. She moved to California and continued to work with various community organizations.
Boone creates colorful murals depicting the experiences of her people while beautifying often-crumbing neighborhoods with memorials and murals showing stunning scenes of the life and loss all too common in urban areas.
She is perhaps most well-known for being one of the muralists behind the famous MaestraPeace mural on the Women’s Building in San Francisco, California. The resilience founded with Malcolm’s loss would come in handy decades later when her nephew, Eric Garder, was murdered by police, in the streets, in broad daylight, in Staten Island, NY after repeatedly reiterating: “I Can’t Breathe.” She accompanied her late niece, Erica Gardner on many of her speeches and is a staunch supporter of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. She is currently featured in the documentary The New Color: The Art if Being Edythe Boone and America Reframed PBS Documentary series.The documentary, like the artist, is worth watching.
Tahera Rahman, First Hijab Wearing News Reporter
In a time when Muslims are grossly misunderstood, Tahera made news while reporting the news. In our great USA, she is the first woman reporter to wear a hijab on-air. Big-ups to CBS affiliate WHBF in Rock Island, Illinois for recognizing her talent and not being blinded by her headwear.
The ultimate professional who always loved journalism is happy for this accomplishment but, understandably, doesn’t want her hijab to distract viewers from her reporting. She prides herself on being a serious journalist, as well she should. Breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes is serious business!
Diane Nathaniel, Co- Creator of BeatStage3
After being diagnosed with Colon Cancer in March of 2014, this Brooklyn educator turned her test into her testimony. In 2016 she co-founded BeatStageThree, an advocacy and awareness group for Colon Cancer survival, resources and prevention.
It was one of the things she wished was available to her when she was first diagnosed. There just wasn’t enough information out there on causes and prevention of this deadly disease. Diane was repeatedly told that the disease is often hereditary. Since she was adopted, those statements were even scarier. Putting all fears aside she moved forward in faith and signed with the prestigious A-Speakers International Speakers Bureau so she can take her message of health and healing worldwide.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Grammy & Oscar Winning Singer/Songwriter
If you have small children at home (or even if you don’t!) you probably know the song “Let it Go” from the Disney animated movie Frozen. This 46-year old mother of two wrote that song. She also wrote “Remember Me” with her husband Robert Lopez. The songwriting team, who reside in Brooklyn, NY, won an Academy Award this year for the Disney animated movie “Coco.” She’s giving us relationship goals and that gold statue isn’t a bad look either.
Tarana Burke, Founder of the #MeToo Movement
Time Magazine named her Person of the Year as one of The Whistleblowers for being the founder of the #Metoo movement.
A lifelong community and arts advocate, Burke created the hash tag in 2006 but it was not until actress Alyssa Milano used the moniker that it got the momentum it deserved.
Since then, Tarana has attended the Oscars (on the arm of actress Michelle Williams) and the Grammy’s (on stage being serenaded by Common) all the while representing Black women everywhere while simply slaying. She is currently senior director at Girls for Gender Equality.
Valerie Brandes, Founder & Publisher of Jacaranda Books
This boundary-breaking Brit worked in publishing for a while, a few years back. But she could see that the industry she loved had limited resources and publishing opportunities for people of color, especially those from the African diaspora and the Caribbean. In an industry pioneered and financed by European patriarchy and bureaucracy for centuries and generations, Valerie decided to start Jacaranda Books so she could publish the books she (and WE) wanted and needed to read. Started modestly in 2012 with one title, “Fashion Africa”, she is now overseeing a thriving company that boasts over thirty titles including the critically acclaimed “The Book of Harlan” by Bernice McFadden and the painfully revealing “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. She was recently named Powerlist Magazine’s 100 most influential Black Britons for 2018.
Collectively, these women’s works are testaments to their and all of our greatness. We are glad to bear witness to history in the making.