Femdacity Celebrates Black History Month- Commerce

During this last week of Black History Month, we will share stories of Feminine Audacity for 'BOSSES' who rule the boardroom.  These women are CEOs, Board members, Entrepreneurs, Activist and Philanthropist.  Many thanks to Biography.com and Forbes for these stories.

In the words of Shirley Chisholm, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Can I get a 🙌🏽???


The Entrepreneur- Madam C.J. Walker

Madame CJ Walker

The elementary school I attended was in a predominately black neighborhood.  I can recall pictures of famous blacks (past and present) prominently posted on our bulletin boards.  Madam C. J. Walker was a face and story was a permanent fixture among the other 'greats'.  Her accomplishments speak for themselves.  Did you know:

  • Madam C.J. Walker was the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire.
  • In 1913, Madam C.J. Walker donated the largest amount of money by an African American toward the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA.
  • In 1917, Madam C.J. Walker was part of a delegation that traveled to the White House to petition President Woodrow Wilson to make lynching a federal crime.

The CEO- Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns

If you don't know Ursula Burns, it's to learn about this 'Sister'. 

Burns is the first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company. From 2010 to 2016, she served as Xerox CEO, managing to turn a company once only known for paper copies into a viable and profitable business. In 2015, she helped generate $18 billion in revenue.

Today, Burns is chairwoman of VEON which is an international telecom company.  She is also a founding member of Change the Equation, a CEO-led non-profit program to boost STEM education, launched by the Obama administration in 2010 and member of Uber board of directors.

The Activist- Mary Ellen Pleasant

Mary Ellen Pleasant

Unlike most of these women, Mary Ellen Pleasant was someone I just learned about.  She was born in the 1810s and most likely was a slave.  What makes her story so compelling is as a woman of color during the slavery she:  

  • Married a wealthy abolitionist and moved to San Francisco after his untimely death.
  • Invested her money and soon amassed a startling a fortune based on stocks, real estate, and a series of businesses (including laundries and food establishments).
  • Was estimated to be worth $30 million dollars, an astonishing sum for the period.
  • Used her money to defend wronged Black people and spent thousands in legal fees, becoming a hero to a generation of African Americans in California.

The Boss- Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Who doesn't love O'?  We all feel so connected to her.  She is 'US'.  

Her journey is a story of resilience and excellence which is a powerful combination. Oprah's accomplishments far exceed her very humble beginnings in rural Kosciusko, Mississippi.  Here's just a few:

  • First Black Female Billionaire
  • Oprah's Book Club 
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Leadership Academy in South Africa
  • Television Network Owner (OWN)
  • Magazine Publisher

Oprah continues to surprise, amaze and inspire us. 

Go O'!!!


We hope these stories of Feminine Audacity have inspired you to embrace your own Feminine Audacity.  One bonus Black History Month fact was published in the October 2020 issue of Forbes Magazine:

Black women represent 42% of new women-owned businesses—three times their share of the female population.

Majority Black women-owned firms grew 67% from 2007 to 2012, compared to 27% for all women, and 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any female demographic during that time frame.

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