Glimpses of African American Women

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I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. —Psalm 139:14, NIV

African American women have made significant contributions to the world.

After long denial, African American women gained entrance to formal education, expanding their horizons and allowing them to educate and mentor others.

But long before gaining access to formal paths of learning, they were empowered by another force and excelled in many facets of life through what some call “mother wit.” I like to call it “divine intervention.” The African American woman has become a force written indelibly in the pages of history, an inspiration for all women.

Women like Harriett Tubman escaped slavery and led more than three hundred slaves to freedom. Mary McLeod Bethune changed the kaleidoscope of educational opportunities. She believed that education provided the key to racial advancement.

Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute in 1904 for women, which later became Bethune-Cookman College1 and today educates women and men of every color. African American women of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have also made notable contributions. Dr. Maud Sisley Boyd was the first Seventh-day Adventist woman physician.

She established the school of nursing at Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) and served as a missionary in Central America. Dr. Eva B. Dykes was the first woman to complete the requirements for a PhD degree. She later taught at Oakwood College, and in 1946 she formed the Aeolians (Oakwood University Choir), a world-class choir still in existence today. Other notable African American women include Kamala Harris, the forty-ninth vice president of the United States, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the 116th US Supreme Court justice.

God has opened doors for women of every color to achieve their God-ordained purpose. It is my prayer that, in looking back at history, women will forge greater paths and move forward into a time when all women will experience a greater coexistent relationship with our Creator and each other. We each are fearfully and wonderfully made! Let us embrace the history and differences of all women and become a united body among the sisterhood of believers.

Ella Clark-Tolliver

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