The New Millennium

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama. White House.

The New Millennium spans from 2001-present. The twenty-first century opened with a haze of confusion over the presidential election, however, disaster in September 2001 with the destruction of New York City’s Twin Towers by terrorists curtailed arguments over internal squabbles and American interests faced outward towards terrorism. A new nationalism formed in America; one determined to secure the homeland safe for travel domestic and abroad. American military forces moved throughout the Middle East seeking to uproot terrorist cells. Military losses and successes impacted the lives of blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, men and women. The close of the first decade in the twenty-first century provided the black community with the first African American president, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle Obama, our first African American first lady. The presence of an ivy-leagued educated, professional, black woman led to celebration throughout the country.

Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice. Department of State.

In the tradition of their foremothers, black women continued to expand their definitions of success and involvement in mainstream America. In sports, Venus Williams won the singles title at Wimbledon in 2000, becoming the first black woman to do so since Althea Gibson in 1957. Also in sports, Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, earned the IWBF light heavyweight title in 2004. In politics, Donna Brazille, selected by presidential hopeful Al Gore, became the first African American woman to lead a national presidential campaign in 2000. In 2005 Condoleezza Rice was named the Secretary of State, the first African American woman to hold that position. In the religious community, Vashti Murphy McKenzie became the first female bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2000. The AME church is the oldest African American denomination. In 2001, Ruth J. Simmons became the eighteenth president of Brown University and was the first black woman to lead an Ivy League institution. In Hollywood, Halle Berry became the first African American woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress, for her performance in Monster’s Ball in 2002. The Forbes magazine’s “billionaires list” included its first black woman, Oprah Winfrey in 2003.


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