1. Aretha Franklin – 1 word, 7 letters:
Since the Queen of Soul has been ill lately, I want to take this time to honor her and her golden voice. She is truly legendary.
2. Shirley Sherrod – The forced resignation of this worker for justice was one of the low points of 2010. Ms. Sherrod handled libel and racism with dignity and strength. I look forward to witnessing her further development as a spokesperson for poor and underrepresented Americans.
3. Michelle Obama – Every first lady takes on a social platform and Ms. Obama has chosen childhood obesity. Despite attacks from the Right, Ms. O’s work has not been in vain. The President just passed a child nutrition bill to ban greasy food and sugary soft drinks from schools.
4. Beverly Bond – for empowering black girls through the arts and letting the world know unequivocally that Black Girls Rock!
5. Ntozake Shange – for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf is on The New York Times bestseller list. While the film by the director who shall not be named was a failure in my opinion, the publicity surrounding it got more people to read Shange’s classic choreopoem. Shange and her sister Ifa Bayeza also published an epic novel this year Some Sing, Some Cry.
7. Viola Davis – for taking home a Tony for Fences and being a true master of her craft.
8. Oprah Winfrey – OWN! After over two decades at the helm of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah is set to launch her own network. Journalist, philanthropist, author, publisher … Oprah indeed has her own.
9. Janelle Monae – For releasing one of the best albums of 2010 and maintaining her funky individuality.
10. Tanya Hamilton – The debut filmmaker of Night Catches Us was the only black woman to have a film at Sundance this year. Here’s hoping that the critical acclaim Night is receiving means we’ll see more from this brilliant storyteller.