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'Black ICONS in Herstory' celebrates influential Black women

ICONS in Herstory includes 102 pages of inspirational Black women like Angela Davis, Issa Rae, Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz, and more.
Credit: Monica Ahanonu, Darian Harvin, McKayla Chandler

CONNECTICUT, USA — Black women are widely considered the inspiration of today’s American culture. Black ICONS in Herstory does not leave Black influential women unrecognized but rather highlights women that have defied societal norms and followed their own path.  

Black ICONS in Herstory is an iteration of ICONS: 50 heroines who shaped contemporary culture. A biographical book admiring politicians, singers, and artists celebrating women’s strengths.

ICONS in Herstory includes 102 pages of inspirational Black women like Angela Davis, Issa Rae, Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz, and more.  

Beauty Journalist Darian Harvin wrote Black ICONS alongside illustrator Monica Ahanonu. She said when Ahanonu approached her for writing the book, Harvin knew it was something she wanted to be a part of.

Choosing the ICONS was a collaborative process for them where they included ICONS from the previous book and looked at a new way to tell their stories.

Harvin said she wanted to make sure all women from different backgrounds were being represented. Part of her research consisted of listing ICONS, doing research in areas she was not so familiar with, and speaking to friends in their cultures whom they considered ICONS.  

“Going with the intentionality of wanting to show different spectrums of success and different spectrums of ICONS, not feeling like there is one type of woman,” she said. “I wanted women who really just expressed who they were.”

For Harvin, an ICON encompasses a woman who puts herself first and embraces who she is with confidence. They understand the power that they hold and how they can help others.   

“An ICON is really someone who, when it comes to breaking moments in their lives, they still decide to choose themselves, their aspirations, their goals, and dreams first,” she said.

Harvin hopes to give people another perspective on who the ICONS are when they read the book. Whether it’s learning a new fact or learning about a new ICON. 

The hardest thing about writing the bios Harvin said was offering a new perspective to the readers since many of the people have been written about.

“I tried to develop a cadence where it was around storytelling around these breaking points where they chose themselves and it led to success, it led to them being ICONS,” she said. “I really want people to walk away seeing some qualities, some traits of themselves in these women.”

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The hardest bio Harvin said she had to write was Janet Jackson’s. She is someone Harvin has admired and had grown up seeing.

Harvin said Black women are a part of the diaspora, so including women from different cultures such as Afro-Latina, was intentional. It was important to Harvin to give light to the woman in a vibrant way that is true to who they are.

“I think it is really important to celebrate, to be incredibly mindful of how integrated black women are to pop culture and to American society, period, to the foundation and formation of this country,” she said “A part of that involves pop culture. Everything from music to STEM to sports to fashion.”

Jareliz Diaz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jdiaz@fox61.com


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