Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Representative for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District: In 2008, Congresswoman Edwards became the first African-American woman elected to the House from the state of Maryland. Before winning a special election to take this seat, Edwards had a long career in public service advocating for many important issues.
Kamala Harris, 32nd and Current Attorney General of California: Harris is the first woman and the first person of African or Asian decent to be elected Attorney General of California. Prior to winning this role, Harris used her position as District Attorney of San Francisco to reduce recidivism and prevent crime.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Representative for Alabama’s 7th Congressional District: Congresswoman Sewell is the first black woman to be elected to Congress from the state of Alabama. A successful lawyer, Sewell has also used her high profile to raise money for public projects in her home state.
Tamika Mallory, Executive Director, National Action Network: 31- year-old Tamika Mallory took the Executive Director position of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network two years ago and overseas the 40-plus chapters around the nation. She is the youngest executive director of a civil rights organization.
Rose Mapendo, Founder, RefugePoint (Formerly known as Mapendo International): Rose Mapendo escaped from a Congolese death camp in 1998. With the help of human rights activist Sasha Chanoff, she fled to the U.S. and became the spokesperson for Mapendo International, a nonprofit organization that works to rescue and protect African refugees.
Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th Surgeon General of the United States: Before being selected by President Obama to be the U.S. Surgeon General, Benjamin directed a non-profit primary care facility in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Her methods of providing care earned her the highly prestigious MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” award in 2008.
Ayanna S. Pressley, Boston City Councilor: Pressley is the first black woman to serve on the City Council of Boston. Having first won her seat in 2009, she recently won re-election in 2011 over a tough field of competitors.
Mandy Carter, LGBT Social Rights Activist: Carter is a founding board member of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the only civil rights group dedicated to protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered blacks. Her organization is unique in its dedication to fighting both racism and homophobia.
Erica Williams, Senior Strategist, Citizen Engagement Laboratory: Williams is a respected expert in promoting voting and greater political involvement among young people. A maven of social and online media, she was recently honored as a Young Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum.
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Who will follow in Rosa Parks’ footsteps? There are several young women rising through the activism ranks, many of whom could someday be just as revered as the late civil rights icon. TheGrio has selected 10 black women who represent the power and pioneering spirit of Rosa Parks, who the world is celebrating today for her marvelous contributions to the betterment of our society.
Check out our slideshow below of promising black heroines who are carrying the mantle of Rosa Parks into the future. Who best embodies her legacy?