Majorettes make their way down Park Avenue in Orange Mound during the Southern Heritage Classic parade in 2019. Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50

We hold these truths to be self-evident: Black women are a force.

Examples are everywhere – Vice President Kamala Harris, New Georgia Project founder Stacey Abrams and #BlackLivesMatter movement leaders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. 

Closer to home, Black elected officials including (but certainly not limited to) Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer, state Sen. Raumesh Akbari and Memphis City Council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas are making their mark.

They build on the shoulders of their foremothers, including Shirley Chisholm, the first woman and Black person to run for the presidential nomination on a major party ticket. Her motto, “unbought and unbossed,” still resonates today.

With that energy in mind, over the next three months MLK50: Justice Through Journalism will highlight local Black women who are unsung, unbowed and unstoppable. Women who are building movements in Memphis. Their names may not be easily recognizable, but they are women who are forces in the fight for voting rights, access to health care, criminal justice reform and on other critical issues. They were nominated by their peers and our staff. 

March is Women’s History Month and next week we will begin with Black women who organize. These six women might be labeled “activists,” but they resist and defy definition. They organize, lead, and push for voting rights, access to health care, to uplift communities. Sign up for our newsletter to meet these unsung women.


This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

Got a story idea, a tip or feedback? Send an email to info@mlk50.com.