Stunning Vintage Photos Of Iconic Black Women Across The Diaspora On International Women’s Day

March 8, 2018  |  
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International Women’s Day is the 24-hour period where we celebrate the achievements of women throughout history and across nations. When it comes to the diaspora, there’s no shortage of iconic women from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and America to pay homage to and that’s what we’re doing here with these stunning vintage photos of 11 groundbreaking Black women you should know.

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Celia Cruz Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Celia Cruz (October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003)

Known as the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz was a Cuban Singer who proudly embraced her Afro-Latina heritage which was heavily thread into her music and style of dress. Banned from her native Havana during the Cuban revolution, Cruz became a symbol of freedom for her refusal to bend to the demands of Fidel Castro’s political regime.

1967: South African singer Miriam Makeba Poses for a portrait session for the cover of her album “Pata Pata” in 1967. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Miriam Makeba (March 4, 1932 – November 9, 2008)

Miriam Makeba was a famous South African Afropop and Jazz singer who was among the first musicians from the continent to receive worldwide recognition. Makeba became known as Mama Africa for her legacy as a civil rights activist, namely as an advocate for the abolition of apartheid and her work for other humanitarian causes as a UN goodwill ambassador.

Portrait of Somali-born American fashion model Iman, New York, 1970s. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

Iman (July 25, 1955)

Iman was born Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid in Mogadishu, the capital of Somali. After being discovered by an American photographer while at University, Iman went on to have an illustrious career as a model, landing her first gig at Vogue. But it’s her foray into makeup that makes Iman a true pioneer, having launched Iman Cosmetics in 1994 which grew to be a multi-million dollar business, specializing in foundation shades for women of color.

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – 21st AUGUST: Benin singer Angelique Kidjo performs live on stage at Parkpop festival in Zuiderpark, The Hague, Netherlands on 21st August 1994. (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

Angélique Kidjo (July 14, 1960)

Angélique Kidjo is a Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer-songwriter and, arguably, one of the most famous and widely lauded contemporary African female musicians. Kidjo’s music spans countless genres, four languages, and a multitude of countries. And off stage, she uses her influence to advocate for the rights of women and girls, specifically with the founding of The Batonga Foundation, which gives girls access to secondary and higher education so they can become Africa’s next leaders.

American model Donyale Luna, 22, has turned her talents to film-making. The fashion model has made a dramatic impact as Oenothea, the sorceress, in Satyricon, which is soon to be released through United Artists. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Donyale Luna (August 31, 1945 – May 17, 1979)

Though she only lived to be 33, in her short time as an American model Donyale Luna achieved a great deal. When she was sketched by an illustrator for the January 1965 edition of Harper’s Bazaar, the cover became the first ever tp feature a Black model. And just one year later she became the first Black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue, opening the door for women like Iman and Naomi Campbell to follow.

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: Photo of Grace JONES; posed (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Grace Jones (May 19, 1948)

Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Grace Jones ushered an entire new wave of music into American culture when she made music infusing her reggae roots with funk, punk, and pop music. Her androgynous image, which also emphasized her dark skin and Jamaican heritage, also depicted a new representation of Black femininity, particularly one of a woman who was in control of her own sexuality.

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 11: Naomi Campbell poses early on in her career (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Naomi Campbell (May 22, 1970)

Born in South London of Afro-Jamaican and Chinese-Jamaican heritage, Naomi Campbell was the premiere Black supermodel of the late ’80s and 1990s and is regarded, along with five contemporaries of her time, as one of the “original supermodels.” Despite the labeling, Campbell has used her platform to speak out against racial discrimination in the modeling industry.

Sade. 1983. (Photo by: Graham Smith/PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images)

Sade (January 16, 1959)

Born Helen Folasade Adu, Sade is a British Nigerian singer-songwriter and producer regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time. Having influenced artists across all genres of music for decades, Sade, who is famously private, recorder her first new music in seven years this year for the Wrinkle in Time soundtrack.

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: STUDIO Photo of Rita MARLEY, Posed studio portrait of Rita Marley (Photo by Echoes/Redferns)

Rita Marley (July 25, 1946)

Cuban-born Jamaican singer Rita Marley’s legacy extends beyond her music career and that of her late husband, Bob. Marley also established a non-profit to help alleviate poverty among the elderly and youth in developing countries. She has adopted 35 children in Ethiopia and been named an honorary citizen of Ghana as a result of her work in the country, which includes assisting more than 200 children at Konkonuru Methodist School.

Publicity still (by James Kriegsmann) of American pianist, jazz singer and actress Hazel Scott (1920 – 1981), 1948. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

Hazel Scott (June 11, 1920 – October 2, 1981)

Classical pianist and singer Hazel Scott was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, before her mother brought her to New York City at the age of 4. By 8, she was recognized as a musical prodigy and awarded a scholarship to Julliard. Thriving as a jazz musician throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Scott became the first Black woman to have a TV show, The Hazel Scott Show, in 1950.

Jennifer Hosten of Grenada, winner of 1970 Miss World beauty contest. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jennifer Hosten (October 31, 1947)

Named Miss World 1970, Jennifer Hosten became the first woman from Grenada to win the title and the first Black woman overall at the age of 22. Despite the protests, controversy, and accusations of racism that followed her win, Hosten served her post and toured several countries as a diplomat on behalf of her country.

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