Get Inspired: 6 Empowering Speeches From Black Women Who’ve Made History

2024 ACLU Of Southern California’s Centennial Bill Of Rights Awards Show
Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Sheryl Lee Ralph on stage during the ACLU Of Southern California’s Centennial Bill Of Rights Awards Show at The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Los Angeles on February 18, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.


Feb. 28 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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Historically, Black women have played a pivotal role in shaping our society. They have demonstrated incredible resilience in adversity, championed justice and equality, and have been at the forefront of social and political change. Their powerful words have been integral to our collective history, inspiring generations to fight for a better world, from the early suffragist movement, with words from Sojourner Truth to the modern-day struggle for civil rights that uplift voices like Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny.

Black women have been the voice of hope and empowerment. Their impassioned speeches have challenged the status quo, spoken truth to power, and ignited a fire within their communities and beyond. Today, we celebrate some of the most empowering speeches from Black women who’ve made history.

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Viola Davis: The 2015 Emmy Awards

Source: YouTube/Television Academy

As Viola Davis made her way to deliver one of the most empowering speeches in Black History, she shared a heartwarming moment with Taraji P. Henson, embracing her in a warm hug. This was a historic moment for Viola, as she became the first African-American to win five Screen Actors Guild Awards. Her inspiring words left a lasting impact on all who heard them and will continue to inspire future generations.

Michelle Obama: ‘When They Go Low, We Go High’

Source: YouTube/Democratic National Convention

During the 2016 Democratic National Convention, former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a powerful and memorable speech that included a statement that has since become iconic: “When they go low, we go high.” This phrase has resonated with many individuals, as it encapsulates the idea that in the face of negativity and adversity, it is paramount to maintain one’s sense of dignity, grace, and moral fortitude.

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Deshauna Barber: 2017 University of Maryland Global Campus (UMUC) Commencement Keynote

Source: YouTube/University of Maryland Global Campus

Deshauna epitomized resilience, leadership, and determination. As the first-ever military member to win the title of Miss USA, Deshauna shattered stereotypes and blazed a trail of inspiration for generations to come. In her captivating keynote speech at the UMUC Commencement, she undoubtedly touched upon the importance of courage in the face of adversity. 

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Beyonce: ‘Dear Class Of 2020’ Commencement Speech

Source: YouTube/YouTube Originals

Her speeches have always been a call to action. One of the key elements of Beyonce’s impact is her ability to connect with young people on a deep, personal level. Through this speech, she shares her experiences, struggles, and triumphs, demonstrating that success is attainable through hard work, determination, and self-belief. Being transparent about her journey, Beyoncé acknowledged barriers and exuded relatability that resonated with young people from all walks of life.

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Swin Cash: 2022 Hall of Fame Speech

Source: YouTube/NBA

Swin has had a remarkable career, which includes three WNBA championships, two Olympic Gold Medals, four WNBA All-Star appearances, and two NCAA championships. In addition, she gave a remarkable speech as the 11th woman inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022. She is vice president of basketball operations and team development with the New Orleans Pelicans.

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Sheryl Lee Ralph: 2022 Emmy Award Acceptance

Source: YouTube/Television Academy

Sheryl Lee Ralph is a beacon of talent, activism, and resilience. Her multifaceted career spans film, television, theater, and advocacy, leaving an indelible mark on each realm she touches. After winning her much-deserved and long-overdue Emmy for Supporting Actress in “Abbott Elementary,” she tilted the room and inspired Black women and little girls coming behind her. As an actress, Sheryl graced both the big and small screens with her captivating performances, earning acclaim and admiration from audiences worldwide.

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Their voices, Black women’s voices, reverberate across generations, shaping narratives, igniting change, and leaving an indelible mark on history. As we continue to listen to empowering speeches from Black women and honor their contributions, we affirm the importance of diverse perspectives and celebrate their resilience.

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