This February, we honored the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. We recognize Black History Month as a powerful time to use storytelling and celebrate the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history.
"There is No American History Without Black History"
If you didn't follow @francinecollections on Instagram and Facebook, then keep reading for a recap of the Black women we know, want to know, and would've liked to know. These women made Black history what it is, or are creating Black History at this very moment.
Toni Harp is the first woman to serve as Mayor of New Haven. She is a dear friend of Francine's and is paving the way for Black women in Connecticut and beyond! Toni, you inspire us everyday to uplift the women and families around us. Toni, we are so fortunate to know you! ✨
"I think that women have, as a style, consensus-building. It’s something we learn to do as mothers, on P. T. A. s and as Girl Scouts, if we’ve been lucky enough to participate. Women are uniquely qualified for these roles.
We are continuously inspired by our partners over at @girlscouts of America and @gsofct. Especially, by Judith Batty: a lifelong Girl Scout, former troop leader, and top cookie seller. Judith made history in 2020 when she was announced as the first Black woman to assume the chief executive role. Judith is a trailblazer—she spent three decades as senior counsel and executive to a Fortune 100 company, the first woman and first Black person to serve as general counsel to one of the corporation’s overseas affiliates. 👏 ✨ ♥️
"I am committed to ensuring that The Girl Scouts continue to offer shelter in a storm- a place where girls feel welcome, can find community, solidarity, leadership opportunities and fun."
Speed skater Erin Jackson craves the pressure of high-level competitions. It's what fueled her explosive performance at the 2022 Winter Olympics, where she secured gold in the women's 500m and became the first Black American woman ever to win an Olympic speed skating medal. Every interview, story and picture we see of Erin Jackson ignites our drive to be and do better.
Her tenacity and dedication to her sport is admirable. ✨⛸ ⚡️
"How does it feel to make history in my sport? It’s an honor. It’s something I have strived for. If I can impact even just one little girl’s dream, then that is even better than gold to me."
Aretha Franklin, who is renowned for hits like 'Respect' and 'Think', was widely regarded as #theQueenofSoul with an unforgettable voice. A prominent Civil Rights activist and #feministicon, her songs were quickly adopted by movements as anthems of social change and she eventually sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King. Jr. 🎙
🎶 Over the past several decades, Aretha's songs have topped chart after chart and last performed at a charity gala in support of the Elton John Aids Foundation. After that, she announced that she would be retiring to spend time with her family.
Some of the all time greats were singing Aretha Franklin's praise long before she passed away (in 2018 from pancreatic cancer) and it proves her impact on music will live on for a very long time. She put herself confidently on stage singing Pop and R&B music to people who had never heard it before. Rest in Peace Aretha Franklin. May her legacy live on!
"Music can take you years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It's uplifting, it's encouraging, it's strengthening."
Talk about making history. Harriet Tubman is one of Francine's favorite women who made history because of her tenacity, grit, and courage.
Harriet Tubman is considered the first African American woman to serve in the military. She is known as the “Moses of her people,” was enslaved, escaped, and helped others gain their freedom as a “conductor" of the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier, and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War. Tubman was never caught and never lost a “passenger.” ✨
"I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say — I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.
Judith Anna Jamison, born in 1943, is among the most influential African American dance figures of the late 20th Century.
She began her dance career at the age of ten and served as the Artistic Director at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1989 to 2011. Her work in the dance industry has opened doors to young aspiring women and African Americans. She has been named by Time 100: The World’s Most Influential People and received the highest rank in The Order of Arts and Letters, a group recognized in contributing to the arts in France and the rest of the world. Then in 2010 she was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama with the first White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison.
Presently Jamison continues to further promote the arts through the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She created the Women’s Choreography Initiative and a cooperative between her dance company and Fordham University’s B.F.A. program. She also introduced multicultural curriculum to The Ailey School which includes instruction of West African and South Indian dances. Her efforts remain crucial in furthering the arts in the United States. Jamison retired from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2011.
"You have to dance unencumbered. There's no other way to move. The idea of dance is freedom. It is not exclusiveness, it's inclusiveness."
This weekend we are celebrating #BlackHistory and recognizing Leondra Kruger's notable roles in US government.
Leondra is paving the way for Black women in politics and has made countless notable actions for the US Supreme Court, Department of Justice and within the Obama administration. Leondra remains poised under pressure and we admire her journey that's gotten her to where she is today. ✨👩⚖️ @leondrakruger is a woman we want to know!!
"I try to do my job in a way that enhances the predictability and stability of the law."
Francine speaks highly of her friends, especially Pansy Blake: "the world's best stylist and personal shopper"👜💄📸, @pansypansy_stylist
For three decades Pansy Blake has been dressing CEO’s, world leaders, and celebrities for print media, TV and film. Her luxury fashion sense goes beyond clothes, into the digital world with eye catching creative direction. Pansy is making Black History with her unique style, and unmatched poise.
Pansy's favorite quote?
"Cultivate Love, Forgiveness, Compassion and Happiness"
- Dalai Lama
Ella Fitzgerald left a special imprint on #BlackHistory and touched the heart of millions with her skillful, jazzy sound and sultry voice.
Dubbed "#TheFirstLadyofSong," Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her humble yet happy beginnings led her to a successful jazz career where she embraced worldwide recognition and generosity giving private donations to youth welfare organizations.
Ella is a Black woman we wish we could've had the honor to know. ✨💖
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
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