To celebrate Black History Month, Planned Parenthood is honoring 99 African American leaders — one for each year since Planned Parenthood was founded.
The achievements of the Top 99 Dream Keepers range from the paradigm-shifting filmmaking of Ava DuVernay to the Reproductive Justice movement leadership of Cherisse Scott, from the crunktastic and hard-hitting analysis of Jamilah Lemeuix to the gender-busting art and advocacy of Laverne Cox. Their work helps us connect us to each other. They inspire us to break down barriers to opportunity posed by poverty, racism, and sexism.
Planned Parenthood has a complicated history, but since our founding, we have worked with the community to increase opportunity and access to health care for everyone.
As we continue the fight for critical access to health care and opportunity for all Americans, let us pause and salute these leaders who give us strength and inspiration. Together we are fighting to protect against dangerous legislation that is harmful to women and families, and deny access to critical services.
We are partnering with young black women and men — the next generation of leaders in the movement for reproductive freedom. We are spreading the word that finally, health insurance is more affordable for millions of people who are uninsured. We are working hard to end racial health disparities and for the community to be the healthiest it can be.
Note: The individuals on this list were selected by Planned Parenthood Action Fund in recognition of their public accomplishments. Inclusion on this list does not imply an endorsement of, or affiliation with, Planned Parenthood by any individual listed.
These leaders are on the front lines of the movements for social change. They work to ensure that all Americans have access to health care, advocate for the rights of those with HIV/AIDS, and address the social conditions of marginalized people. These Doers are essential for increasing opportunity and health care access in the black community.
Our community’s Tastemakers address our hopes and concerns, delivering our messages to millions. Whether they are comedians who make us laugh, writers who make us cry, actors and singers who transport us to another world, or the producers and directors who make it all happen, our Tastemakers make us all proud by bridging the gap between entertainment and civic engagement.
There’s always more than one way to tell a story. Our community’s storytellers not only report what’s going on in the world, they put race, gender and social justice at the center. They uncover racial injustice in access to health care and denounce efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. They include our voices, and they tell the stories that urgently must be heard.
Where would we be without our policy allies? They ensure that women, men, and young people here and abroad have the tools for family planning and reproductive health care. By supporting legislation and securing funding for programs, they look after our physical, mental, and economic well-being. We have a long history of public engagement — from fighting for suffrage, integration and health care — and we need our Defenders to advance our causes.
Religion has long been a significant part of our community. Historically, the church has paved the way for civil rights activism and this tradition lives on: Faith-based activists use their ministries to raise awareness about sexuality education; challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks; and the right of all Americans to access health care. In recognition of their pivotal work, we say: Amen.
Even when they’ve reached the top of the corporate hierarchy, our Power Players have not forgotten their roots. They leverage their power and influence to fund new initiatives and to empower a new generation of leadership. Thanks to these leaders, African-American issues are represented in boardrooms around the world. Social change often grows from the ground up. With their roots firmly anchored in the community, these powerful leaders ensure that the soil is fertile and the water is plentiful.
Looking Ahead After 99 Years
Planned Parenthood salutes these 99 Dream Keepers for moving all of us forward on the road to achieving success. After 99 years, Planned Parenthood looks forward to continued growth with these and other Dream Keepers in the next century.