The narrative of stories during Black History Month has shifted in the past few years from the recounting tragedies and triumphs of mostly the past to highlighting the successes of present-day Black Americans and how they may impact the world for many years to come. Thus, the term Black Futures Month was born out of a visionary, forward-looking movement to celebrate the changemakers and trailblazers of right now.
In the spirit of this visionary movement, here are five women in the Vital Voices global network who are changing the narrative of Black history—now and in the future.
Jenna Smith, USA | Robertson Scholar at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This 2022 VV Visionaries Fellow is pursuing independent research on the erasure of black women throughout history. While she searches to repair this removal, she produced a podcast episode showcasing Black women telling the stories of other Black women.
Candace Queen, USA | Tabernacle and Renegade Renaissance (coming soon)
This 2022 VV Visionaries Fellow is the founder of Tabernacle, a creative company that helps businesses establish a brand identity to communicate with their target audiences and the public more impactfully. On International Women’s Day, she will launch a new program, which in her own words is, “A platform that will support women candidates through the process of defining their brands and communicating their platforms to constituents…”
She was featured on a podcast episode you can listen to here.
Sbusisiwe Myeni, South Africa | Imbeleko Foundation
In 2015 Sbusisiwe “Sbu” Myeni was a part of the Global Ambassadors Program and she returned to the program in 2022 as a featured speaker to share her success story.
Sbu is a former banker who found her calling when she took over leadership of the Imbeleko Foundation that services high-achieving orphaned youth in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa after the tragic death of her twin sister, Imbeleko’s founder. Sbu is changing the narrative of what life can be for orphaned youth in South Africa by empowering the young people to achieve academic success and engage in entrepreneurial endeavors.
Learn more about her journey here.
Jacqueline Ngo Mpii, France | Little Africa Paris Village & Travel
Jacqueline Ngo Mpii founded the Little Africa community center, gallery, and boutique to share about the Black History of Paris.
In addition to giving tours of historically Black Parisian neighborhoods, Little Africa connects and educates people on African culture in Paris and globally through programs at its community center. The boutique offers a variety of cultural items, including a guide to the city highlighting African restaurants, art, designers, and more.
To hear more watch this video.
Special Board Member Spotlight:
Amanda Gorman, USA | US Youth Poet Laureate
Vital Voices Board Member Amanda Gorman has been a standout poet and leader ever since she was a 16-year-old fellow in our HerLead program.
Amanda made history as America’s first-ever US Poet Laureate and the world got to see her prose vividly come to life when she delivered her powerful poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration ceremony. Most recently, Amanda shined bright at the 2023 Grammys when she presented Viola Davis with her Grammy award for “Best Spoken Word Album” for her memoir “Finding Me.”
It was a historic moment, as the Grammy presented by Amanda to Viola gave the actress the distinct honor of becoming an EGOT winner (someone who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony).
Learn more about her bio here.