Strong Black women inspire, lead us

Columnist Shan’T-Erica Pugh. Photo courtesy Pugh

In honor of Women’s History Month, it is only fitting that women’s contributions be recognized and appreciated with intention. Women have continuously graced the earth with the knowledge and power to keep society moving.

I’ve witnessed women’s power firsthand, yet it is a recurring trend in history for that power and influence to be overlooked. If not managed, it’s overpowered by men in most cases. This phenomenon is disguised in the quote: “Behind every great man is a great woman.”

I’ve met Black women who have inspired me to become the best version of myself in my lifetime. Hoping to become one of those women, I’ve personally tried to accomplish feats that scratch the surface of what these inspirational women have achieved.

The most influential woman in my life is my mother. She has overcome obstacles that most would not be able to — and with intention. As a single mother, she makes sure that I am always well taken care of, which has not been easy for her to accomplish alone.

As she is about to earn her degree soon, there is one quote that I keep in mind, “Always leave the house like you’re going to meet your worst enemy.” This quote explains how she continues to inspire me. The way that she carries herself mentally, spiritually and emotionally to continue to thrive in her everyday endeavors.

Along with my mother, a big part of my life has been my church family. The women of my church family have shown me the reason that I should continue to push myself to be a better woman for society. More specifically, as a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the women’s missionary society of the church has given me mentors who continue to push me to be a better woman of God and community.

Without most of the women I have encountered and learned something from, I don’t believe that I would have the drive to continue to work not only for myself but also for those around me. Understanding the importance of community service and loving everyone I meet are a few of the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned in life.

Another essential role model of mine has been Michelle Obama, the first African-American first lady of the U.S.  She has empowered young people with programs such as the Reach Higher Initiative, Joining Forces, and Let Girls Learn. All programs that have contributed society’s betterment. As a young Black woman, watching Mrs. Obama continue to thrive in a society where all odds are against both her gender and ethnicity, I know that anything is possible.

Knowing that anything is possible with all odds against me, statistically speaking, is why talking about and recognizing the power and perseverance of women is so vital in today’s day in age.

I know that the quote is, “behind every great man is a great woman,” but in some cases, it feels as if behind every great woman is a prosperous society. The change and growth that can come from the hard work and dedication of a woman, whether she be a single mother or first Black first lady of the United States, is powerful.

Thank you to all women who continue to push against all odds and create a society that has yet to be seen before the work they have put into it.