Amirah Mercer
February 21, 2015 12:00 pm

All this month, we’ve been celebrating black men and women in history whose bravery and genius paved the way for us today. In the last week of Black History Month, we’re looking to the present and the future, to honor the incredible women who are doing great things right NOW.  Here are seven black women who are making waves in visual arts, politics, writing, and filmmaking and changing the world.

Roxane Gay

With her book Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay went from college professor to the literary voice behind a new wave of feminism. Gay’s error-prone take on feminism (“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy.”) encouraged readers to find their own unique voice in fighting for women’s rights.

Loretta Lynch

If confirmed as Attorney General by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Loretta Lynch will become the first black female attorney general. While her confirmation will come down to the outcome of the political dance between GOP members and President Obama, Lynch’s tenure as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York proves she’s got the chops to go national.

Rebecca Carroll

When Rebecca Carroll decided to quit her job as an editor for xoJane.com, she went out with a bang. Carroll wrote a personal essay on  The New Republic exposing how newsroom racism drove her out of the industry she loves. Luckily for us, Carroll still lends her powerful voice on race and gender to various online outlets.

Jamilah Lemieux

As the digital editor for Ebony.com, Lemieux has already staked her claim as a passionate voice on all things socio-political, as she made headlines for her outspoken tweets on subjects like race and the GNP this past year. With guest commentaries on shows like The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, we can expect to hear a lot more from Lemieux this year.

Ava Duvernay

The Selma director is just at the beginning at what might be her best year ever: Her critically-acclaimed Martin Luther King Jr. biopic is up for a Best Picture nod this month (becoming the first black female director to earn this honor) and she’s confirmed to direct a film about 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Besides, anyone who can call Oprah a friend and collaborator is obviously set to have a stand-out year.

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is a writer who’s contributing an enormous amount to the field of poetry. Last year, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet wrote an op-ed for the New York Times illustrating why poetry is the best form of human expression. This spring, Smith will publish her memoir Ordinary Light, and we could not be more excited.

Mickalene Thomas

The New York-based artist is best known for her loud and feminine paintings of black women, lavished in rhinestones and colorful patterns. Not only does she have a great eye for visual art, but also a keen sense of style (with an affinity for the Comme des Garçons look).

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