15 Influential Black Women You Should Put On Your Radar ASAP

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Let me start off by pointing out that all the strong, educated, intellectual, creative, beautiful Black women on this list are operating on their own radars. 

They have fans and followers — some in the tens of thousands — who look up to them and wait patiently for their commentary on all sorts of issues, from the political to the social. 

Some are writers who have spent years drafting books about grappling for equality; others have penned poetry that resonate with people on deep, personal levels.

Some are founders and CEOs of their own companies who want to teach other Black women how to improve their overall wellness; and others are creating blogging platforms for Black women to support their peers in their prospective industries. 

There's even a teenager — a soon-to-be author herself — who organized a campaign to collect and donate books featuring young Black female protagonists.

We are a community.

We are Black women.

Chloe x Halle

These 15 ladies have dedicated their entire lives to using their platforms to help others, so it's my privilege and pleasure to showcase them here on this list. Hopefully their stories stir something inside you to not only become a better person, but a global citizen who loves and appreciates those around you.

In short: Prepare yourself for some serious #BlackGirlMagic!

Tarana Burke, Founder Of The #MeToo Movement

Burke launched the #MeToo movement in the late '90s while working at a youth camp in Alabama, where she met a young girl named Heaven who revealed she'd been sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend. 

That happenstance meeting was one of the reasons Burke founded Just Be Inc. in 2006, a nonprofit that helps young women of color find healing and counseling following emotional, mental, and physical trauma. 

Morgan DeBaun, Co-Founder Of Blavity

With Blavity, a website for Black millennials, DeBaun has created a supportive platform for young people of color to express themselves politically and creatively. 

The 28-year-old mogul is also the brains behind EmpowerHer, a Blavity conference that focuses on meeting the needs of Black women; and AfroTech, Silicon Valley's largest Black tech conference.

Kimberly Foster, Founder Of For Harriet

Kimberly Foster, Founder Of For Harriet

The Harvard University grad is the creator and editor-in-chief of For Harriet, a popular platform for women of African descent that aims to celebrate "the fullness of Black womanhood." Founded as a single blog in 2010, For Harriet is now a collective of five websites that's garnered national attention from the likes of Ebony and The New York Times. 

Because of her work on For Harriet, in 2016 Foster was named one of Forbes' 30 most influential people in media under 30.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Educator And Writer

Taylor is, in short, one of the greatest political and social justice minds of our generation. The Northwestern University graduate not only works as an assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University, but she's also the author of the critically acclaimed book "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation" and helped organize the Day Without a Woman strike last March.

Despite being regularly harassed and threatened by Trump supporters due to her criticism of No. 45's administration, Taylor continues to persevere in her mission to educate minorities on issues pertinent to Black equity and equality.

Rue Mapp, Founder Of OutdoorAfro

rue mapp

Mapp launched OutdoorAfro in 2009, a blog dedicated to connecting and educating the Black community about nature and wellness. The non-profit organization seeks to encourage Black men and women to lead and get involved in outdoor activities by organizing meet-ups and — in the process — breaking stereotypes about Black people's relationships with Mother Earth. 

The former analyst has received numerous awards for her efforts, and OutdoorAfro now boasts more than 60 leaders in over two dozen states and thousands of members.

Heben Nigatu, Writer, Comedian, And Podcaster

Heben Nigatu, Writer, Comedian, And Podcaster

The hilarious Heben previously lent her quips to "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" as one of the show's writers. Nowadays, you can hear her voice (and opinions) on BuzzFeed's podcast "Another Round."

Nigatu also founded #CarefreeBlackKids2k16, a hashtag people used to share photos and videos of Black children expressing love and joy in the wake of several police shootings in 2016.

Opal Tometi, Writer And Co-Founder Of #BlackLivesMatter

Opal Tometi, Writer And Co-Founder Of #BlackLivesMatter

Tometi, the executive director of an organization called Black Alliance for Just Immigration, is one of the three Black women who founded the #BlackLiveMatter movement after Trayvon Martin's death in 2013. 

Opal has also participated in a United Nations panel on advancing equality and worked as a case worker for victims of domestic violence

Marley Dias, Author And Activist

marley dias

When Dias was just 11 years old, she took her love of reading to a new level after discovering that few books in her school's library featured protagonists that looked like her, setting out to find and donate 1,000 books with a Black girl as their main or title character. Nine thousand books later, she's the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks. (Don't let anyone tell you that children can't change the world!)

The self-declared feminist now has her own book deal and hopes to inspire other young Black students to become avid readers, too.

Myleik Teele, Founder Of curlBOX

myleik teele

Naturalistas know the struggle of trying to find the right products for their curly crown of glory. Teele created curlBOX to try and help her sistas out, a service described on its website as "an exclusive, affordable, and effortless way to explore hair care products delivered to your doorstep each month." The 36-year-old entrepreneur has built a business empire since founding curlBOX in 2011, joining forces with multi-million dollar brands like Walmart, Target, and Nike. 

Teele also operates her own podcast "MyTaughtYou," where she answers questions from the public and motivates her fans. 

Lauren Ash, Founder Of Black Girl In OM

lauren ash

As the founder of Black Girl In OM — a platform that "promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color" — Ash encourages Black women to strengthen themselves by teaching them to treat their minds and bodies well. 

"We learn and share wellness practices with one another, and through this work cultivate richer understandings of what it means to be healthy and beautiful from the inside out," the organization's website reads. 

Karleen Roy, Founder Of The Vanity Group

karleen roy

A former assistant for Sean "Diddy" Combs, Roy launched the lifestyle management company The Vanity Group, which coordinates events for celebrity and high-profile clientele. The Memphis native now lives in New York City and has worked for the likes of Ne-Yo, Maybach Music, and Kobe Bryant. 

Rhonesha Byng, Founder Of Her Agenda

Rhonesha Byng

Byng lives by the acronym "N.E.S.H.A.," which stands for "No one Ever Slows Her Agenda." That saying was her inspiration behind Her Agenda, "a digital media platform working to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women." It's a place for women from various industries to share their stories, help one another, and inspire each other.

Previously, Byng has spoken at the White House as well as the United State of Women Summit.

Nimco Ali, Founder Of Daughters Of Eve

nimco ali

The Somali-born women's rights activist has been raising awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) — an issue that's been plaguing not just women in Africa, but all over the globe — through her nonprofit Daughters Of Eve. Ali knows all too well the horrors of the surgery because she underwent the procedure at just 7 years ago (and later, due to complications, had to undergo reconstructive surgery). 

Nimco has also served as the network coordinator for the End FGM/C Social Change Campaign, and her published work on gender rights has expanded the conversation about FGM worldwide.

Alexandra Elle, Writer

alex elle

Elle is a soulful, creative mother and wife whose written work helps heal its readers. She writes from a place of self-love and self-care, sharing personal stories in a poetic form, and her nearly 400,000 Instagram followers get an up-close-and personal look at her motivational thoughts.

Check out her books "Neon Soul: A Collection of Poetry and Prose"; "Words from a Wanderer"; "Love in my Language"; and "#ANOTE2SELF Meditation Journal." 

Ariell R. Johnson, Comic Book Shop Owner

ariell johnson

Johnson became the East Coast's first Black female comic book shop owner in 2015 when she opened Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse.

“It is important to have a space for diverse audiences,” she told The New York Times in December. “I look for comic book titles from everyone, but especially from nontraditional groups, including people of color, women and the LGBTQ community. The stories from people who share those spaces are genuine.”

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