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The Skanner News – 6 Inspirational Accomplishments Black Women Made First

We spotlight six black women past and present who are number one! They have accomplished inspiring and historic feats that may be unknown, but are certainly worth celebrating.

They deserve their flowers!


1. Dr. Bobbi Peterson

Dr. Bobbi Peterson, a Howard University alumnus and dentist, was the first black woman to design an electric toothbrush. When Dr. Peterson designed the “Big Mouth” toothbrush, she not only became the first black woman to design a battery-powered electronic toothbrush, but she was also the first woman in history to do so. In addition to his historic achievement, Dr. Peterson has his own dental practice, offers internships, free orthodontic evaluations and is the author of the children’s book Tanner’s Teeth. She hopes to inspire other young black children like her father, who was also a dentist, inspired her.

Photo: Dr. Bobbi Peterson/Big Mouth Toothbrush

2. Barbara Gardner

In 1970, Barbara Gardner became the first black woman to own an advertising agency. Gardner was born to a teenage mother and raised by her grandparents in a shack with no electricity or running water. She grew up and got a scholarship to Talladega College in Alabama. After college, Proctor worked for the Urban League, DownBeat magazine, and Vee-Jay Records. While at Vee-Jay Records, she struck a deal that helped introduce the Beatles to America. After working for different advertising agencies, she took out an $80,000 loan from the Small Business Administration and started her own advertising company, Proctor & Gardner Advertising. Within six years, it became the largest black-owned agency in the country. By 1983, his company had $12 million in billings and a long list of clients. During her lifetime, she served as president of the League of Negro Women and became a life member of the NAACP.

Photo: WTTW News

dr nadine burke harris doctor

3. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

In 2019, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris was named California’s first-ever black surgeon general. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996, Harris went on to earn her medical degree from the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. She then earned a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University and completed her residency in pediatrics at Stanford University. In his role as general surgeon, Dr. Burke helped underserved communities and worked to improve the health of children exposed to traumatic experiences.

Photo: Winokur Photography

mariya russell doctor

4. Mariya Russell

Mariya Russell is originally from Ohio and made culinary history as the first black woman to earn a Michelin star. Russell performed skillfully throughout her culinary training and became a line cook. While working at the Green Zebra restaurant, she became close with co-worker Noah Sandoval. Sandoval began opening restaurants in the Chicago area and brought Russell on board to run one of his bars. She then becomes manager of the Kikko restaurant; she was responsible for developing menus, choosing ingredients, welcoming guests and making sure they had a great experience. The Michelin Guide is one of the oldest guides that rates restaurants and hotels, and has become the highest honor a chef can receive. Russell has become the first black woman to win a Michelin star in the Guide’s 94-year history!

Photo: Kikko

5. Pamela Uba

Pamela Uba made history with her international feat as the first Black Miss Ireland. When she was young, her parents moved her family from South Africa to Ireland where she then lived in direct boarding school for 10 years. Despite how she grew up, her mother helped her raise money to go to college. Uba eventually earned his MSc from Trinity College in Clinical Chemistry and began a career at University Hospital Galway. While working for a Miss Galway event, she was accidentally mistaken for a contestant, and it was then that she was inspired to start beauty pageants. After 6 years of working towards her goal of becoming Miss Ireland, she entered the Miss Galway pageant and won. She held the Miss Galaway title for 18 months before the COVID-19 pandemic put her dreams on hold. She then started working on the front lines to help fight the virus and a cyberattack. After the country returned to normal, competitions resumed and Uba was able to compete again. At 26, she participated in the Miss Ireland contest and won! She became the first black woman to become Miss Ireland since the pageant’s inception in 1947.

ava duvernay

6. Ava Du Vernay

Visionary filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, is one of many black queens producing and directing behind the scenes. She graced the cover of InStyle magazine and made box office history. But her historic first came becoming the first black woman to win Best Dramatic Direction at the Sundance Film Festival for her critically acclaimed film, Middle of Nowhere. She is also the first black woman to earn a Golden Globe Best Director nomination for a motion picture. DuVernay continues to inspire young filmmakers around the world with his creative films.

Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press

This article originally appeared on BOTWC