Black Women Making History
Every February we remember, celebrate, and pay tribute to the struggles and achievements of the African diaspora in America and abroad. For Black History Month 2019, Major League Girl’s would like to pay tribute to some of the black women who have been breaking barriers and making history before our eyes.
Simone Biles is already well known as one of the greatest gymnasts in the world, but in early November 2018 Biles sealed her name in the history books by becoming the most decorated gymnast of all time. With the addition of her four golds, one silver, and one bronze won at the 2018 world championships she has earned 20 world championship medals. While this number ties with Russian Svetlana Khokrina, the fact that 14 of Biles’ twenty medals are gold certainly sets her on top of the podium.
Those six medals at the 2018 worlds also set Biles apart as the first American to medal at every event at the world championship, a feat that was last achieved 32 years ago by Russian Yelena Shushunova.
Naomi Osaka first came into international fame, in and out of the tennis world, when she beat Serena Williams in the dramatic 2018 US Open final to take her first Grand Slam title and become the first Japanese player to do so. Osaka has continued to dominate the tennis world and won the 2019 Australian Open, her second Grand Slam title. This makes Osaka not only the first Asian world No. 1, the youngest woman to reach No. 1 since Caroline Wozniacki did so at age 20 in 2010, but also the first woman to win her first two Grand Slams consecutively since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.
While the 21-year-old represents Japan on the court, she embraces her Haitian heritage passed on to her from her father and is insistent that her identity as both Haitian and Japanese is represented in the media.
While Simone Manuel hasn’t been making the splashy headlines that Osaka and Biles have recently, the swimmer has continued to dominate her competition since she became the first black woman to earn an individual medal in Olympic Swimming. We most certainly haven’t seen the last of Manuel, as she met qualifying standards at the Winter Nationals in December and has her eyes set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Manuel’s victories are deeply connected with the struggles of African-Americans in the past, as Jim Crow era segregation limited black American’s access to public swimming facilities and fostered stereotypes of black people not being able to swim. Manuel hopes that by breaking these barriers she can help create a future in which athletes like her aren’t regarded as “black swimmers”, but rather just as “swimmers.”
Antoinette “Toni” Harris should be a familiar name to those of you who follow Major League Girl’s news, but this free safety is impossible to leave off a list of black women breaking barriers. Much of Harris’s acclaim comes from her Superbowl commercial with Toyota, but her skills as a football player has also gotten her several offers to play as one of the first women in a skill position on a college team, and quite
Right now, Harris is considering a scholarship offer from Bethany College in Kansas and her goal is to play for a four-year university as a stepping stone to her ultimate football goal -- to become the first woman to play in the NFL.