100 LGBTQ Black Women You Should Know (4/100) from top left to right:
- Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958), Journalist / Teacher / Poet / Playwright Harlem Renaissance writer Grimké, who was biracial (her father was the second African-American to graduate from Harvard Law), was one of the first African-American women to have a play performed publicly. Of that play, The NAACP said, ”This is the first attempt to use the stage for race propaganda in order to enlighten the American people relating to the lamentable condition of ten millions of Colored citizens in this free republic.” At 16, she wrote a letter to her female friend Mamie Burrile in which she declared, “I know you are too young now to become my wife, but I hope, darling, that in a few years you will come to me and be my love, my wife!” Modern literary critics who have analyzed Grimké’s work have found “strong evidence” that she was lesbian or bisexual.
- Ruby Dandridge (1900-1987), Actress. In addition to being the mother of the legendary actress Dorothy Dandridge, bisexual actress Ruby Dandridge was a prominent radio actress, best known for her role on Amos ‘n Andy. Her “companion” Geneva Williams lived with The Dandridges after Ruby and her husband Cyril divorced.
- Edmonia “Wildfire” Lewis (1844-1907), Sculptor. This African-Haitian-Ojibwe Native American sculptor was born in New York and began studying art at Oberlin in Ohio, one of the first universities to accept women and non-white people, and later began sculpting in Boston. She showed her work internationally and spent most of her career in Rome. The National Gay History Project notes that “she is considered one of a few African-American artists to develop a fan base that crossed racial, ethnic and national boundaries — and the first to develop a reputation as an acclaimed sculptor, which would later give her access to circles that generally excluded people of color and women.”
- Marsha P Johnson (1944-1992), Activist / Artist. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R) with Sylvia Rivera, where she was known as the house “mother,” getting food and clothing to help support the young drag queens and trans women living in the house on the Lower East Side of New York and was one of the leaders in clashes with police at the Stonewall Riots. She was also a popular figure in New York City’s gay and art scene from the 1960s to the 1990s.