By AFRO Staff

Black girl magic was sprinkled all over TIME magazine’s inaugural Women of the Year list which hit newsstands March 4. 

“When you speak your truth, things happen,” said Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, one of the 2022 honorees.

The list includes 12 women from a cross-section of backgrounds –activism, entertainment, sports, health care, innovation—“who have reached across communities, generations, and borders to fight for a more inclusive and equitable world,” according to TIME.

The list grew out of a project, published in March 2020, in which 100 influential women were highlighted, one per year from 1920. It was the publication’s attempt to balance the inequity of its long-running “Man of the Year” issues, which was only re-designated as “Person of the Year” in 1999.

The 2022 list is rich in examples of Black achievement. Joining Felix is acclaimed actor and activist Kerry Washington, poet Amanda Gorman, internationally renowned midwife and Black maternal health advocate Jennie Joseph, civil rights titan Sherrilyn Ifill and pioneering Golden Globe winner Michaela Jaé “Mj” Rodriquez.

Celebrated film and television actress Washington is cemented in entertainment history for her portrayal of the iconic character Olivia Pope, a Washington power broker and crisis manager known for “fixing” the worst scandals.

TIME, however, recognized the actress for how she leveraged her celebrity to empower grassroots organizations trying to fix the problems within their communities.

Kerry Washington arrives at the 28th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Barker Hangar on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“Olivia Pope is one of the reasons I’ve stepped into activism in this way,” Washington said in the magazine feature. “I woke up the morning after the election in 2016, and Olivia Pope was trending. I was confronted with all these people saying, ‘Olivia Pope, you have to fix this.’ ‘Olivia Pope, save the day.’”

Washington has used her platform to highlight various issues, has invested money and expertise in women-led startups focused on communities of color and has focused on “bringing the stories of women of color to life” through her production company, Simpson Street.

“The most effective use of my microphone is handing it to women and marginalized people, instead of the old model of a surrogate dropping into an organization, costing them a lot of time and money, and not really serving the real heroes,” Washington said.

Bronze medalist Allyson Felix, of the United States, poses during the medal ceremony for the women’s 400-meter run at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, in this Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, file photo. Olympians Allyson Felix and Jordan Larson were honored as Sportswomen of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation at the Annual Salute to Women in Sports on Wednesday night, Oct. 13, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Another honoree, Felix, became the all-time most decorated woman in track during the Tokyo Olympics. But the star athlete is also founder and CEO of Saysh, a women’s lifestyle brand, and she is addressing some of the inequities she experienced as a Black female athlete. In a 2019 op-ed in the New York Times, Felix lambasted an industry “where the rules are still mostly made for and by men.” She has since become a fierce advocate for issues such as parental leave and maternal health.

British-trained midwife Jennie Joseph is also an indomitable voice for maternal health, particularly among Black women—seeking to increase health care access and patient education, provide culturally appropriate care and reduce disparities in Black infant mortality.

“Jennie fights to ensure every person has their healthiest possible pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience with dignity and support,” said Dr. Deanna Wathington CEO of Commonsense Childbirth, which was founded by Joseph, in a statement.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, speaks at the President’s Task Force on 21 Century Policing, Jan. 13, 2015, at the Newseum in Washington. President Joe Biden has already narrowed the field for his first U.S. Supreme Court pick. One potential nominee is Ifill. She is a deeply respected civil rights attorney who has led the fund since 2013, the second woman to lead the organization. Ifill started her career at the American Civil Liberties Union, then worked on voting rights legislation at the legal defense fund before she joined the faculty at University of Maryland School of Law, where she taught for more than 20 years. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Among the other Black “sheroes” recognized by TIME: Deeply respected attorney Sherrilyn Ifill has long been a resounding and unflinching voice for gender equity and civil rights at the helm of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, from which she resigned earlier this year. Ifill was among President Biden’s potential nominees to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. Gorman enthralled many in 2021 when she earned distinction as the youngest inaugural poet. The nation’s first National Youth Poet Laureate and author is also an activist who agitates on issues related to gender and human equality, education and the climate. Rodriguez, Emmy-nominated star of FX’s “Pose,” was recognized for breaking barriers as the first transgender actor to win a Golden Globe in 2021.

“When I was younger, I didn’t have representation for anyone of color in the LGBTQI community,” the actress told the magazine. “Now, I want to be the example. I want to show them that it’s possible.”

Amanda Gorman arrives at the 2021 InStyle Awards at The Getty Center on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

But further, Rodriguez told Time, she wants to help erase the biased lens through which women of color and transwomen are viewed. 

“I want people to see what I am before I’m trans, before I’m Black, before I’m Latina,” she says. “I want people to see I’m human.”

Actor Mj Rodriguez attends FX’s “Pose” third and finale season premiere in New York on April 29, 2021. Rodriguez will be honored at the GLAAD Media Awards. Rodriguez will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for LGBTQ media professionals who promote LGBTQ acceptance at the April 2 GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

Also on TIME’s 2022 list are: country music star Kacey Musgroves, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, president and CEO of Nasdaq Adena Friedman, founder and CEO of Rise Amanda Nguyen, software engineer Tracy Chou and journalist Zahra Joya.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!