Black women helped shape American society

Cher Best is happy to be "so square".

F ebruary is Black History month, and March is Women's History Month, so once a year Nicholson Revelle LLC and O'Neal Murphy Allstate Insurance, along with Sisters Only Club and 96.3 Kiss FM, recognize the accomplishments of outstanding black women at the annual Shero Awards.


A Shero is a woman who has affected the lives of others and made a difference.

Throughout history, women of all races have made significant contributions to our culture. They sacrificed and in many cases changed the course of history.

In recognition of Black History Month, let me share a few facts about African-American Sheros in our history. Some of the women are well known, others might surprise you.

Some people believe Nefertiti and Cleopatra, the queens of African-American women's history, were early Sheros.

There are many women who were heroic in their efforts to make life better for the next generation of people. These women, although not as well known as Rosa Parks and Mary McLeod Bethune, were nonetheless early Sheroes.

For example, you might not be familiar with the first African-American woman banker, Maggie Lena Walker, who founded St. Luke's Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Va., becoming the first female bank president.

And few people know that Sarah Breedlove Walker was the first African-American woman in America to become a millionaire. She was known not only for her hair-straightening treatment and her salon system, which helped other African-Americans to succeed, but also her work to gain women's rights. At least they don't know her by her birth name but rather her nickname, Madam CJ Walker.

Born in Delaware in 1831, Rebecca Crumpler was raised by an aunt who was dedicated to caring for sick neighbors and friends. It was her early exposure to helping others that would ultimately lead her to become the first African-American female doctor. In a blog for the Los Angeles Times , basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said of Crumpler's accomplishment, "To be black and trying to become a doctor at that time was challenge enough, but to also be a woman breaking into a male bastion like medicine required heroic strength and courage and commitment."

If you ask most young girls who their Sheros are, you will more than likely hear names like the legendary and super-successful Oprah Winfrey or the elegant and graceful first lady, Michelle Obama. But like many of the women I've mentioned, there are any number of other women who are blazing trails in significant ways.

If you know one, it's not too late to nominate her for the Shero Award, which is an excellent way to let her know that you recognize what she is to your life.

The fifth annual Shero Awards ceremony will be at 1 p.m. March 26 at the Tabernacle Family Life Center. Nomination forms are available at Nominations must be postmarked by Friday.