March is Women’s History Month, a time to pay tribute to generations of women who have made invaluable contributions to America. The national celebration began with Women’s History Week in 1982. Congress designated it as a monthly observance in 1987. 

Here, the Defender profiles contemporary African-American trailblazers with ties to the Houston area. 

1. Dr. Marguerite Ross Barnett – First Black president of University of Houston (1990). 

2. Beyoncé – First woman to have three albums surpass a billion streams (2018), first Black woman to headline Coachella (2018), first woman to win six Grammy Awards in one night (2010) and first woman to have an album and single simultaneously top the U.S. and U.K. charts (2003). 

3. Simone Biles – First woman to win five U.S. Gymnastics all-around titles (2018). 

4. Dr. Joye Carter – First woman appointed chief medical examiner in the United States when she became chief medical examiner of Harris County (1996). 

5. Shirley DeLibero – First Black female president and CEO of Houston Metro (1999) and first Black female chair of American Public Transit Association (1998). 

6. Yolanda Ford — First woman and African-American elected mayor of Missouri City (2018) 

7. Paula Harris — First Black female president of HISD Board of Trustees (2011) 

8. Dr. JoAnn Horton – First female president of Texas Southern University (1993). 

9. Simone Manuel — First African-American female swimmer to win an individual Olympic gold medal (2016). 

10. Dr. Lois Jean Moore – First Black woman president and CEO of Harris County Hospital District (1989). 

11. Dr. Ruth J. Simmons — First female president of Prairie View A&M University (2018) and first African-American president of an Ivy League university (2001). 

12. May Walker – First female constable elected in Harris County (2004) and first female solo patrol officer with Houston Police Department (1975).