MAKERS Celebrates Black History Month: Looking Forward

During February's Black History Month, we've explored the personal histories of some of our African American MAKERS by looking at the mothers who taught them about strength and the instinct to follow their hearts, that led them to who they would become. Read on as five African American MAKERS talk about changing the future.

1. Faye Wattleton is a social activist, author, and businesswoman who was the youngest President, first African American, and first woman to lead Planned Parenthood since its founding in 1942. Wattleton talks about how growing up experiencing racism shaped her commitment to social justice. MAKERS-in-the-making can take a note from Wattleton on how to overcome hardships to change their own — and possibly others' — future.

"Over a time I evolved into a much more radical person about these inequities than perhaps I might have if I had lived a more privileged lifestyle."

2. Majora Carter is a community developer passionate about environmental justice. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (AKA a "genius" grant") in 2005 and, in 2010, a Peabody Award for her public radio show, "The Promised Land." Carter explains how she pushes herself to the limit to accomplish as much as she can and the power that being optimistic can have on making change.

"I don't care if I've got ten minutes left or another 100 years, I'm gonna do something with it."

3. Nikki Henderson is a local food activist and Executive Director of People's Grocery. She talks about how the future generation of women are learning to divide the responsibilities of work and family.

"There are a lot of core challenges that face the next set of girls and women in America."

4. Tracy K. Smith is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who currently teaches at Princeton University. She talks about standing up for your beliefs-- even if they change--throughout the entirety of your life.

"I am interested in a lot of other 'isms' in a way…and how they temper our perspectives and experiences."

5. Lydia Cincore-Templeton is the President and CEO of Children Youth and Family Collaborative, an academic and social development organization serving over 4,000 foster and at-risk youth at 25 sites in Los Angeles and Compton. She talks about the need to continue making progress in regards to women's issues.

"I think women can change what's happening in this world…women look at things differently."

NEXT: NASA's First Black Space Station Crewmember Is a Total Inspiration »

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Photo Credit: Getty Images