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Know Ohio: Awesome African American Women from Our State

Ohio has been home to plenty of inspiring African American ladies who lead the way in theor industries. Mary shares the accomplishments of elocutionist Hallie Quinn Brown, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown, and Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry.

Read the Script:

[Mary] Historically, women have had to overcome hurdles to gain power and become leaders. And today we're talking about some famous females who had to overcome a set of extra hurdles because of their race. These African-American women showed some major courage, overcame adversity, and inspired change.

First up, Hallie Quinn Brown. She was born in Pittsburgh in 1850 to parents who were former slaves. Hallie attended college at the historically black Wilberforce University in Ohio. With her diploma, Brown headed South to begin her career as a teacher. She led classes for children from families working on plantations in South Carolina and Mississippi, but eventually, she returned north to teach in Dayton and take up a role as an elocution professor at her alma mater, Wilberforce. Elocution is the skill of giving effective speeches, and, boy, was Brown good at it.

It was said her humorous speeches brought on waves of laughter and her serious ones brought people to tears. She even gave speeches before the queen of England. She was widely known for giving speeches about African-Americans' lives and the challenges they faced.

Brown especially advocated for women. She was a founding member of the National Association for Colored Women's Clubs in 1893 and later served as its president in the 1920s. She also worked for President Calvin Coolidge's election campaign, focusing specifically on black women's issues.

Next, let's learn about Yvette McGee Brown. She was born in Columbus in 1960 and graduated from Ohio State University's law program in 1985. Yvette became the first African-American woman elected to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. During her time there, she created a program that changed how police, hospitals, and other groups respond to children and families who have experienced abuse.

- It's almost like human services work, using the power of the court to get change.

[Mary] She later became the first African-American woman appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court in 2010. Even that wasn't enough for her. She returned to practicing law in Columbus and became partner in charge of diversity inclusion and advancement for Jones Day, an international law firm.

Finally, let's talk about another famous Halle from Ohio, actress Halle Berry. She was born in Cleveland in 1966. Her parents got her name from the old Halle's department store in the downtown area. Berry said she experienced discrimination during high school because most of her peers were white, but she took part in lots of extracurricular activities and eventually attended college at Cuyahoga Community College.

She left college to pursue modeling and acting. Berry acted in several TV shows in the 1990s before getting her big break in the Spike Lee film "Jungle Fever." In 2001, she became the first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress.

- Halle Berry, "Monster's Ball."

[Mary] Berry's list of movie credits just keeps getting longer and longer. She even earned a star on the Walk of Fame in 2007.

Talk about superstars. These black women from all different times in Ohio history show us how determination to succeed can help you to rise to the top.