February 8, 2024
By Jen BryanPage Reading Time: 4 minutes
The CLOC DEIB Council is committed to achieve DEIB successes that will ensure a more inclusive and equitable legal operations community for the future. In doing so, we celebrate the leaders who have paved the way. In celebration of Black History Month, here are just a few of those leaders:
Willie Mae Mallory – Often left out of the historical narrative surrounding the Black Power Movement is Willie Mae Mallory, a member of the Harlem 9, who fought for the right to send her daughter to a desegregated school in the state of New York.
Sojourner Truth – Abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth is best known for her speech on racial inequalities, “Ain’t I a Woman?” delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851.
Carl Stokes – Carl Stokes became the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city when he was elected mayor of Cleveland in November 1967. He later became a news anchorman, judge, and Ambassador to the United States.
Margaret Gardner – Many people are familiar with Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Beloved, but there is much less recognition given to Margaret Gardner, the woman who inspired Morrison’s novel. To learn more about Margaret Gardner, check out this Northern Kentucky History hour video, where they explore the woman behind the novel.
Virgil Abloh – The first Black Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh is known for bridging the gap between streetwear and high fashion.
Kimberly Crenshaw – Kimberlé Crenshaw is a well-known scholar whose career has spanned several decades focusing on civil rights, critical race theory, Black feminist legal theory, race, racism, and the law. In 1989, Crenshaw coined the term “Intersectionality,” which she explains by saying, “Consider an analogy for traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in the intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination.”In short, Crenshaw’s theory should challenge us to think critically about how discrimination is compounded by the layers of one’s identity.
Leymah Gbowe – 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, social worker and women’s rights advocate. She is Founder, and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, based in Monrovia.
Bayard Rustin – Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, subject of the 2023 biopic Rustin, planned the 1963 March on Washington and was best known for his role as an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr.
Lorraine Hansberry– Playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry wrote ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ and was the first Black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award.
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler – Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first Black woman in the United States to become a doctor of medicine. She was also one of the first Black authors of a medical publication; her book of medical advice for women and children released in 1883.
Grace Wisher – Grace Wisher, a free-born Black girl from Baltimore, Maryland, helped stitch the Star-Spangled Banner during the six-year apprenticeship she began with white flag-maker Mary Pickersgill around 1810.
Sarah Boone – Biography, Inventor of the Modern-Day Ironing Board – Sarah Boone was a 19th century African American dressmaker who was awarded a patent for her improved ironing board.
Garrett Morgan – Inventor of the Traffic Light & Gas Mask (biography.com) – The Three-Light Traffic Signal, Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923.
Frederick Jones – Biography, Inventor, Education & Death – Frederick Jones was an inventor best known for the development of refrigeration equipment used to transport food and blood during World War II.
James West – Inventor, Microphone & Facts (biography.com) – James West is a U.S. inventor and professor who, in 1962, developed the electret transducer technology later used in 90 percent of contemporary microphones.
Lewis Howard Latimer – Biography, Inventor, Draftsman – Lewis Howard Latimer was an inventor and draftsman best known for his contributions to the patenting of the light bulb and the telephone.
Mark Dean – Biography, Computer Scientist, Engineer – Computer scientist and engineer Mark Dean is credited with helping develop a number of landmark technologies, including the color PC monitor, the Industry Standard Architecture system bus and the first gigahertz chip.
James Van Der Zee – Photos, Quotes & Work (biography.com) – James Van Der Zee was a renowned, Harlem-based photographer known for his posed, storied pictures capturing African American citizenry and celebrity. James Van Der Zee – Photos, Quotes & Work (biography.com)
Jean-Michel Basquiat – Art, Death & Paintings (biography.com) – Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Neo-Expressionist painter in the 1980s. He is best known for his primitive style and his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol.
Gordon Parks – Photography, Movie & Quotes (biography.com) – Gordon Parks was a prolific, world-renowned photographer, writer, composer and filmmaker known for his work on projects like ‘Shaft’ and ‘The Learning Tree.’ Gordon Parks – Photography, Movie & Quotes
Edmonia Lewis – Sculptures, Quotes & Facts (biography.com) – The first professional African American and Native American sculptor, Edmonia Lewis earned critical praise for work that explored religious and classical themes.
Augusta Savage – Art, Harlem Renaissance & Facts (biography.com) – Sculptor Augusta Savage was one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance as well as an influential activist and arts educator.