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Celebrating Trailblazing Queens: Black History Month Edition

Hey Lovelies, During Black History Month we are recognizing the amazing accomplishments of trailblazing Black women and celebrating their successes. We honor those who have made a mark on history. Let's show them some love and respect together!

Photo courtesy of Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sandra Douglass Morgan

Newly hired Las Vegas Raiders team president Sandra Douglass Morgan is the NFL's first ever Black female president of an NFL team. She was born and raised in Las Vegas, and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno and graduate law degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Morgan is currently an attorney for Covington and Burling LLP and serves on the board of directors for Allegiant Travel Company and Caesars Entertainment. She also serves on the board of directors at Fidelity National Financial.

“I'm just really, really lucky to have this opportunity and hopefully open doors for many other women and women of color in leadership roles in sports,” Morgan stated.

Photo courtesy of Yale Daily News

Leleda Beraki

When Leleda Beraki was elected alongside Vice President Iris Li ’24 in April, she became the first Black woman to serve as Yale’s student body president. She is a Biomedical Engineering and African Studies major at Yale University originally from Asmara, Eritrea with a passion for global health and health policy.

Prior to her election as YCC president, Beraki served as president of both the First-Year and Sophomore Class Councils. Last year, she sat on the YCC’s executive board as the deputy academic life policy director.

“The reality of any woman — and especially a Black woman — is that your actions are not just seen as a reflection of yourself, and your mistakes are not just seen as small things,” Beraki said. “I definitely don’t feel like I’m here to prove that Black women are capable of leadership because I think that’s just a fact, but I feel like there’s a certain level of scrutiny. ”

Photo courtesy of Ebony Media

Kyra Harris Bolden

After 84 years after the lynching of her great-grandfather, Kyra Harris Bolden made history as the first Black female Supreme Court Justice in Michigan.

In 1939, Bolden’s great-grandfather, Jesse Bond, was lynched in Tennessee, after asking a store-owner for a receipt. 

“He was beaten and castrated and thrown into the local river,” said Bolden, 34, a Southfield Public Schools graduate.“And the coroner deemed it an accidental drowning. As a result of a coroner’s determination, his murderers walked free.”

After learning the history, Bolden switched career trajectories from psychology to law.

Her appointment as a Michigan Supreme Court justice is important in a judicial institution where Black women historically have been vastly underrepresented. Nationally, Black lawyers make up just 5% of the attorney population, despite Black people accounting for approximately 12% of the country’s population. Black women specifically make up less than 1% of law firm partners in the United States. Bolden is the sixth Black person ever to serve on Michigan’s Supreme Court. 

Photo courtesy of Cheryl L. Jackson

Cheryl L. Johnson

Honorable Cheryl L. Johnson is an American government official who has served as the 36th Clerk of the United States House of Representatives since February 26, 2019. Between January 3, 2023, and January 7, 2023, Ms. Johnson served as the acting presiding officer of the House while the election of a speaker for the 118th United States Congress was deadlocked until Kevin McCarthy was elected after 15 ballots.

Before Ms. Johnson took the position, she worked for nearly 20 years in the House, where she served as a principal policy adviser and spokeswoman.

A native of New Orleans, Ms. Johnson, who is in her early 60s, earned a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Howard University in Washington.

Photo courtesy of Hudson County Review

Ije Akunyili

Ije Akunyili recently was named the new Chief Medical Officer at Jersey City Medical Center, she is the very first Black woman to serve in this role.

Dr. Akunyili graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania and attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She also completed her emergency medicine residency at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.

She led an unprecedented fourfold expansion of service lines with a specific focus on medical services and access to care for underserved populations.

Previously, Akunyili served as the chair of emergency medicine at Waterbury Hospital, a Level II trauma teaching hospital. She was awarded the 2019 Medical Director of the Year Award for the impressive turnaround of the Waterbury Hospital Emergency Department.

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