We stroll to the polls and flexed our power at every level from City Council to the White House. We used our pens and microphones to tell the truth, pushing back against tweets and trivia.
We not only dribble, but we score real points that make a difference. We press for reproductive rights, disability rights and human rights in Haiti and our homelands throughout the Diaspora. “No justice; no peace?” We said what we said. We reckon that you heard us.
We’ve absorbed the hardest blows of the coronavirus as we’ve labored on the front lines. We’re holding each other down, tapping into our legacy of making a way out of no way. And we’re such essential workers that we are finding ways to bring this pandemic to an end. For real; for real.
We. Are. Fierce!
Now more than ever, we embody the Fierce manifesto, which states in part: “To be fierce is to embrace all that’s wonderful about being a Black woman. To live your dreams, celebrate your strengths and appreciate your true beauty. It means being confident and unapologetically you!”
Thanks to your input, here are 15 women who fit this description and have made their mark on 2020 — perhaps the most challenging period in our lifetime. We’ll introduce you to these Fierce Sisters one by one. Their stories will inspire each of us in the new year and beyond! Let’s draw from their energy and join together as we fiercely take on 2021!
1. Kizzmekia Shanta Corbett — Saving Us From COVID-19
At the top of our list of 2020’s 15 Fiercest is a young Black woman who is helping to save us from COVID-19.
As one of a few Black students at Oak Lane Elementary School in rural Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Shanta Corbett caught the attention and support of one of the few Black teachers, Myrtis Bradsher. By the time Corbett was in the fourth grade, she had captivated Ms. Bradsher with her love of knowledge and gift for mathematics and science.
This year, Corbett, at the young age of 34, became one of the leading scientists on the team that created Moderna’s 90%+ effective COVID-19 vaccine.
As a viral immunologist at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Corbett was hailed by Dr. Anthony Fauci as “right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.” With a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology, Corbett has been investigating viruses and the immune system for several years, yet she recently stepped forward to participate in an event that included the soon-to-be former president.
“I felt like it was necessary to be seen and to not be a hidden figure so to speak,” Corbett told ABC News. While she is working on saving the world, she also wants to inspire other young people of color interested in science.
2. Stacey Abrams Reminds U.S. What Democracy Looks Like
Stacey Abrams personifies what it means to stay in the game and to fight for your rights fair and square — a concept that many people say is lacking these days. She’s also an example of how sisters get the job done.
Abrams not only helped to turn Georgia blue, a historic feat in itself, but she also worked to shift the balance of power in Congress. Click here to learn more about what makes her fierce.
3. Nikki Gane-Butler: Supporting ‘Divas’ Who Are Homeless
Nikki Gane-Butler claims homelessness was one of the best things to happen to her.
“It forced me to tell myself the truth about how I was living my life,” explained Gane-Butler, who ended up homeless after a divorce. “I wasn’t loving myself, which invited others to enter my life who did not love me.”
Recognizing how much even little things mean when you don’t have a home, Gane-Butler founded Dignity for Divas in 2012 to provide women who are homeless with everything from personal care items to support making the transition to permanent housing.
“I remember the things I really needed,” she recalls. One woman, who expressed her gratitude after receiving a Diva Survival Kit, said, “I was just praying for pads.”
Gane-Butler has helped at least 65,000 people over the last eight years in Seattle and five other cities in the state of Washington. Determined not to let the coronavirus pandemic interfere with her efforts, she has been overjoyed to provide transportation to shelters, sock drives, therapy, yoga classes, job training and financial literacy workshops. Her latest thrill is a gift of donated space where women will be able to take greater advantage of these services.
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