She Thrives: Black Women Making History Today
Here is our list of 10 honorees for our Black History Month series, She Thrives. The project is set to launch on Feb. 1 on NBCBLK.
Nutrition officer fighting against obesity for school kids
Betti Wiggins has been working to provide healthy food options for kids in the Houston Independent School District since 2017. Wiggins, who grew up on a farm in Michigan, moved to Houston just shortly before Hurricane Harvey to serve as the school district’s nutrition officer. Shortly thereafter, the Houston Independent School District implemented a program that allowed for all schools to serve three free meals a day to their students. Wiggins calls herself a servant who is committed to making sure children are eating healthy and able to perform at their best while in school.
New York City President and CEO of Time’s Up
Perhaps there isn’t a person better suited to lead Time’s Up other than Lisa Borders. Last fall, Borders was named the president and CEO of the movement to stop sexual assault, harassment and gender inequality in the workplace. The Atlanta native hit the ground running in January to start strategizing how to make the movement feel tangible and accessible to women everywhere. In several interviews, Borders has characterized the Time’s Up movement “as the civil rights movement of the 21st century.” It may seem like a fateful path for her to follow.
Founder of Goodr, fighting to end hunger by tracking companies’ surplus food
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Jasmine Crowe has long considered herself a do-gooder. She defined herself as such through community service acts. A few years ago, she learned through a volunteer initiative titled Sunday Soul — which feeds senior citizens and those experiencing homelessness in Atlanta — just how pervasive a problem hunger is for the city’s poor. It left her with an appetite for action. So in January 2017, she launched Goodr, a food waste management company. Goodr is a real-time food rescue app that connects businesses with local charities to arrange deliveries of leftovers to people in need.
Ketanji Brown Jackson
Washington, D.C.U.S. District judge for D.C. federal court
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a judge for the U.S. District Court for D.C. Previously, she’s been a law clerk for three federal judges including associate Judge Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court. Jackson, who graduated from Harvard Law School, was reportedly interviewed as one of former President Barack Obama’s potential nominees for the Supreme Court. In her role as a judge in D.C., she became the first black woman appointed to the District’s federal court in 32 years.
Founder, Tears of a Mother’s Cry, for families that have lost children to gun violence
For more than a decade, Millie Brown has been working hard to give mothers and families who have lost children to violence a reason to smile. The Baltimore native founded the nonprofit Tears of a Mother’s Cry in 2007 after working in emergency and operating rooms at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and witnessing firsthand how distraught mothers are when they are told their child has died. Now, Brown, who is retired, has helped more than 1,000 mothers in the Baltimore area who have lost children due to shootings and other types of violence.
Actress on CW’s Black Lightning, where she portrays TV’s first black lesbian superhero
Nafessa Williams grew up watching “The Cosby Show” and wanted to be just like Clair Huxtable. Seeing a successful black female lawyer on television was inspiring and proved to her that she could be anything she wanted to be. Perhaps that’s what makes her perfect in the role of Anissa Pierce aka Thunder in CW’s superhero series “Black Lightning.” Her groundbreaking character, Anissa Pierce, is in medical school, teaches at a local high school and is TV’s first black lesbian superhero.
Veda T. Woods
Founder, Protect Us Kids Foundation, protecting youth from being victimized by predators who use the internet to exploit children
As more children connect over the internet, Veda Woods is dedicated to empowering kids with the resources and tools to protect them from harm. She founded Protect Us Kids Foundation in 2008, with a mission to protect youth from being victimized by predators who leverage cyberspace as an international exploitation tactic. The foundation focuses on advocating and spreading awareness about online child sex exploitation, specifically within rural and underserved communities globally.
Brandice Henderson Daniel
New York City
Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, a fashion incubator for black fashion designers
Last September’s New York Fashion Week was monumental for Brandice Daniel, the founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row. The platform — launched in 2007 to give voice to multicultural designers — celebrated NBA superstar LeBron James and Nike’s new signature LeBron 16 sneaker, which invoked the strength of African-American women. To bring the shoe to life, Nike tapped Daniel who then enlisted three black female designers — Kimberly Goldson, Felisha Noel and Undra Celeste Duncan — to design it. The result was an all-white shoe with gold accents. The sneaker reportedly sold out in five minutes. The project was a game-changing example of authentic collaboration in fashion.
Eighth grade teacher who has an inspirational teaching style that has gone viral on Instagram
Valencia Clay, who has become a viral social media star for her bold and inspirational teaching style, pushes her students to think critically, be culturally conscious, and have confidence in their abilities. The Harlem native, who has taught in public schools for the past 10 years, is committed to expanding opportunities for students and educators in urban school districts. Her eighth grade humanities students at the Baltimore Design School are taught lessons about life, self-love and the black diaspora.
Director, Youth and College Division, NAACP
Tiffany Loftin, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s youth and college division, brought more than 1,000 students to participate in the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., in March 2018.
She made a passionate call for an inclusive movement as she stood amid the sea of marchers who were demanding gun control reform after the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a month earlier.