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9 (More) Badass Trailblazers in Politics and Law (1980–2009)

Dear Badass Black Girl,

In a previous post, I introduced you to 10 Badass Trailblazers in Politics and Law. Here are 9 more.

Thanks to these badass women, we are on the path to equality. We still face many obstacles, but to quote Constance Baker Motley, “Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.”


In 1985, Sherian Cadoria was the first Black woman to earn the rank of Brigadier General in the US Army.

Regarding her status as a black female in what was a predominantly white male community, Cadoria was quoted saying, “I’ve gotten more pressure from being female in a man’s world, than from being black. I was always a role model. I had responsibility not just for black women, but black men as well.”

Juanita Kidd Stout was the first Black woman to serve on a state Supreme Court. She was named an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1988.

“If I had nine lives," she said, "I’d want to be a lawyer every day of every one, I enjoy it so.”

In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun of Chicago was the first Black woman elected to the US Senate.

"It's not impossible for a woman⁠—a Black woman⁠—to become President," she said.

"I'm used to people not paying me a whole lot of attention and underestimating me and, frankly, for me a big challenge is to have people believe that I can be the president of the United States."

"Being a woman," she also said, "gives me a slightly different take on a lot of the issues and on a lot of the solutions to the problems we face."

Carole Simpson was the first Black woman to moderate a Presidential debate. She moderated the second debate of the 1992 election.

According to Simpson, the lack of female voices in the presidential debates highlights an issue that continues to plague American media: Men do the vast majority of the talking, even on issues of particular importance to women. Indeed, a study of major publications found that men are quoted five times as frequently as women on issues such as abortion, birth control and Planned Parenthood.

Jacquelyn Barrett was the first Black female sheriff in the United States. Barrett was elected sheriff of Fulton County, GA, in November 1992.

"I am a Black woman. I can't, and I don't choose to, change anything about that [attribution]. I say to other women, and I have to keep saying to myself, 'You bring to the table, what you bring to the table and that's not always bad stuff,'" Barrett said. "I don't try to become one of the 'boys' because I'm not."

In 1998, Lillian Fishburne was the first Black woman to reach the rank of rear admiral in the US Navy.

Fishburne retired in February 2001, with a long list of decorations that included the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

In 2000, Condoleezza Rice became the first female US national security advisor of any race, and in 2005, she became the first Black American woman appointed US secretary of state.

She said, "The essence of America⁠—that which really unites us⁠—is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion⁠. It is an idea⁠, and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things."

In 2008, California Rep. Karen Bass was the first Black American woman to be elected speaker of a state House of Representatives.

She said, "I think that women are much more collaborative; men are much more competitive."

In 2009, Susan Rice was the first Black woman to become a United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

"I am very aware of being black and female because that's what I am," she said.


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