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Shining a spotlight


Changing the equation


Power of the written word

Volume 4 explores acting, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and publishing and journalism. Historically and traditionally depicted as domineering maids or sexual objects, Black women have fought against these stereotypes since the silent film era and continue to break barriers that held them back for so long. Hattie McDaniel, Fredi Washington, and Nina Mae McKinney blazed the trail and impacted women like Pam Greer, Halle Berry, and Viola Davis. Even today, to be a Black woman in Hollywood means toiling through the intricacies of a doubly marginalized existence in an ongoing mercurial experiment.

Although they have been commonly called "hidden figures," nothing could be further from the truth. Black women in STEM have always been around, contributing to and sustaining these different fields of study with little recognition. Nevertheless, they defied social and cultural repression by developing technology, creating scientific instruments, overcoming engineering challenges, and pushing the boundaries of inclusion. Biologist Jewel Plummer Cobb and mathematician Dorothy Vaughan touted as a "human computer," created a path for roboticist Ayanna Howard and computer scientist Timnit Gebru, aerospace engineer Aprille J. Ericsson-Jackson, and computer scientist Lisa Gelobter. (Black women in the sciences who deal with prevention, cure, disease and physical and mental well-being are featured in Volume 5, Public Health & Medicine.)
The pioneering Black women journalists presented herein were true trailblazers. It took an inordinate amount of perseverance for Black women to break into White male-dominated fields of correspondence, investigative reporting, broadcasting, and newspaper publishing. Publishing pioneers such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Charlotta Bass, and Nancy Hicks Maynard paved the way for Carole Simpson, Gwen Ifill, Yamiche Alcindor, and Jemele Hill, who have come to embody the best of that tradition.

In this volume, David focuses on how powerful stereotypes of Black women have contributed to denying human rights, evidenced by inequalities in education, employment, the justice system, and the urgency it requires.


“The first book in an anticipated six-volume set, TRAILBLAZERS is an inspiring, comprehensive work. With a multidisciplinary background in music, design, and poetry, David provides the model of activist scholarship that combines academic nuance and sophistication with an engaging writing style that is accessible to general readership, such as David’s essay that convincingly demonstrates how women served as the “foot soldiers” of the civil rights movement. Backed by impressive endnotes and references, each chapter is encyclopedic in breadth while offering fresh analytical insights into Black women who are well covered in the existing literature, like Rosa Parks. The choice to combine the topics of activism, dance, and sports makes for an eclectic collection . . . . Accompanied by dozens of stark, powerful black-and-white photographs and portraits, this is a visually arresting volume whose words match the power of its images. An exciting resource in a promising, thorough multivolume celebration of Black women."



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