When Ava Noelle Rogers turned 5 in December, her mother Chauncia Boyd Rogers decided it was time for her to learn about the contributions black women have made in American history. When Black History Month came around in February, Chauncia devoted herself to teaching Ava about a different notable African-American woman each day. Chauncia also had the idea to dress Ava up like these inspiring women in order to get her daughter even more engaged in the project. Rogers posted these photos on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, and the response was bigger than she ever expected. Read on to see Ava's adorable pictures and Chauncia's descriptions of these pioneering African-American women.
For the first day, Ava put on her best contemplative face to channel Phillis Wheatley. Chauncia writes, "Phillis Wheatley is both the second published African-American poet and first published African-American woman."
Doesn't Ava look adorable in her homemade pilot's helmet? Chauncia writes,"Elizabeth 'Bessie' Coleman was the first black, female pilot. And she was the first African American to hold an international pilot license."
Ava got to channel her inner ballerina when she learned about Misty Copeland. Chauncia writes, "Misty Copeland is the third African-American soloist and the first in two decades with American Ballet Theatre."
Mary Eliza Mahoney
Chauncia writes, "Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States. In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms."
There's no doubt that Michelle Obama would make the list, and Ava impressively replicated the First Lady's always impeccable look. Chauncia writes, "Michelle Obama is an American lawyer and writer. She is the wife of the 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Obama. And, she is the first African-American First Lady of the United States."
Ava got into the flower power spirit with a gorgeous afro to channel Angela Davis. Chauncia writes, "Angela Davis is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a prominent counterculture activist and radical in the 1960s. And she was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement."
Zora Neale Hurston
Not only did Ava have a blast dressing up like Zora Hurston, but she also captured her radiant smile. Chauncia writes, "Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.'
Ava was adorably done up in old-school glamour to replicate the enchanting Ella Fitzgerald. Chauncia writes, "Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz vocalist. Over the course of her recording career, she sold 40 million copies of her albums and received the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was the first African-American woman to win a Grammy and she earned 13 throughout her career."
Oprah Winfrey (Part 1)
How can you not look up to Oprah? Ava channeled her look in this picture, and will hopefully go on to channel Oprah's confidence and intellect throughout her life. Chauncia writes, "Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for her multi-award-winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011."
Oprah Winfrey (Part 2)
Of course, Oprah deserves two days! Chauncia did a great job at finding a beautiful outfit for Ava, but had to put that sapphire ring in with her computer later. Trying to be as blinged out as Oprah isn't easy! Chauncia writes, "Oprah Winfrey has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century and the greatest black philanthropist in American history. She is currently North America's only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world. In 2013 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard."
Fanny Jackson Coppin
Ava went way back to channel Fanny Coppin. She actually looks like a child from the 1800s! Chauncia writes, "Fanny Jackson Coppin was an African-American educator and missionary. She was born into slavery, but was able to read and study after her freedom was purchased at age 12. In 1860, she enrolled in Oberlin College, which was the first college in the U.S. to accept black and female students. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1865. In 1869 she became the first African-American woman to become a school principal."
Chauncia writes, "Condoleezza Rice is an African-American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State. Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state. And she was President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman of any race to serve in that position."
Ida B. Wells
Chauncia writes, "Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, and sociologist. She was also an early leader in the civil rights movement who documented lynching in the United States. She showed that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by blacks. She was active in women's rights and the women's suffrage movement, establishing several notable women's organizations."
Chauncia writes, "Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and (during the American Civil War) a Union spy. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made about thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people. She used the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era struggled for women's suffrage."
Marian Wright Edelman
Chauncia writes, "Marian Wright Edelman is an African-American activist for the rights of children. She was the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and she has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans her entire professional career. She is president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund. As founder, leader and principal spokesperson for the CDF, Marian worked to persuade Congress to overhaul foster care, support adoption, improve child care and protect children who are disabled, homeless, abused or neglected. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. In 2000, Marian received the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
Chauncia writes, "Ella Baker was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She worked alongside some of the most famous civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She also mentored many emerging activists such as Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks, and Bob Moses. Ella has been called, 'One of the most important African-American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement.'"
Or course, Ava looks super cute in a tuxedo and top hat while dressing up as Josephine Baker. Chauncia writes, "Josephine Baker an African-American dancer, singer, and activist. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture and the first black woman to become a world-famous entertainer. Baker, who refused to perform for segregated audiences in America, is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement."
Last year, it was reported that black women are America's most educated race and gender. Ava plans to continue this tradition! Chauncia writes, "Alice Ball was an African-American chemist who developed an injectable oil extract that was the most effective treatment of leprosy until the 1940s. She was also the first woman and first African-American to graduate from the University of Hawaii with a Master's degree."
Marie V. Brittan Brown
Chauncia writes, "Marie V. Brittan Brown was an African-American nurse and inventor. She invented the home security system and was granted a patent in 1969. Brown's system had a set of 4 peep holes and a camera that could slide up and down to look at each one. Anything the camera picked up would appear on a monitor. Also, a resident could unlatch the door by remote control. The system included a device that enabled a homeowner to use a television set to view the person at the door and hear the caller's voice. Brown's device made way for the modern home security system."
Ava got to be a top model as well as an inspiration to black women with her Tyra Banks photoshoot. Chauncia writes, "Tyra Banks is an African-American model, Emmy Award winning television personality, producer, author, actress, and entrepreneur. Banks made history with a triple achievement in 1996. She was the first African-American woman to pose on the covers of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (with model Valeria Mazza), GQ, and the Victoria's Secret catalog. On February 21, 1997, she graced the cover of Sports Illustrated for the second year in a row. That time, she had a solo appearance. "
Chauncia writes, "Robin Roberts is an African-American television broadcaster. She is currently the anchor of ABC's morning show 'Good Morning America.' Prior to co-anchoring GMA, Robin became a well known sportscaster at ESPN. She was ESPN’s first on-air black anchorwoman, the first black female host of 'Wild World of Sports,' and the first woman (of any race) to host a network televised NFL pre-game show. Robin also bravely battled cancer and shared her journey to wellness. She has received several honors including the Peabody Award and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award."
Chauncia writes, "Patricia Bath is an African-American ophthalmologist, inventor and academic. She has broken ground in several areas. Bath was the first woman (of any color) to serve on the staff of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, to head a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology, or to be elected to the honorary staff of the UCLA Medical Center. Before Bath, no black person had served as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University and no black woman had ever served on staff as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center. Bath is the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. Her Laserphaco Probe is used to treat cataracts. The holder of four patents, she also co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness."
Virginia Proctor Powell Florence
Chauncia writes, "Virginia Proctor Powell Florence was an African-American scholar. She was the first Black woman in the United States to earn a degree in library science and she was the first Black woman to become a professional librarian."
Channeling Edna Lewis was actually Ava's idea, not Chauncia's. Ava dreams of being a chef one day, and asked to learn about a prominent African American female chef. Chauncia writes, "Edna Lewis was an African-American chef and author best known for her books on traditional Southern cuisine. In the late 1940s, there were very few female chefs. And black female chefs were even more rare. Lewis is not the first African-American female chef, but many consider her the first prominent African-American female chef. Lewis became well known and beloved for her simple, but delicious Southern cooking. She has received many honors and awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the first James Beard Living Legend Award, and the first Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern Foodways Alliance."
Chauncia writes, "Keija Minor is an African-American journalist. In 2012, she made history when she became the editor-in-chief of 'Brides' magazine. Not only was she the first African-American female to hold that position, she became the first African-American woman to lead any of Condé Nast's 18 consumer magazines in the 103 years of the company’s existence."
Chauncia writes, "Loretta Lynch is the current United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Her current tenure as U.S. Attorney began in 2010, and she previously held the position from 1999−2001. On November 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated her to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States. On February 26, 2015 the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate confirmed her appointment. She will be the first African-American woman to hold the office of Attorney General of the United States of America."
Chauncia writes, "Dominique Dawes is a retired African-American artistic gymnast. She was a 10-year member of the U.S. National Gymnastics team, the 1994 U.S. All-Around Senior National Champion, a three-time Olympian, a World Championships silver medalist and a member of the gold-medal winning "Magnificent Seven" at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Dawes is also notable for being the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics, and the first Black person of any nationality or gender to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. She is also one of only three female American gymnasts to compete in three Olympics and was part of three Olympic medal-winning teams: Barcelona 1992 (bronze), Atlanta 1996 (gold), and Sydney 2000 (bronze)."
Four Little Girls Killed In The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing
Chauncia writes, "The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was an act of supremacist terrorism. The tragedy occurred at the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963. At least 15 sticks of dynamite were attached to a timing device and detonated under the steps of the church. Described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity," the explosion injured more than 20 people and four little girls: Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), lost their lives."