Winning Essay by Miya Jordan, Clark Atlanta University
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In honor of Black History Month, I am so thankful to be surrounded by so many influential African Americans daily, while attending the illustrious, Clark Atlanta University. There are so many black figures who have inspired me and the rest of the world through music, politics, beauty, art and so much more. The willpower that African Americans have truly motivates me to stay consistent and faithful to any success I want to achieve. With that being said, the most influential African American that I admire and hope to live up to is, Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner. During 1956, Kenner was the first African American to introduce sanitary pads to the world.

Before Kenner’s invention women were forced to use different types of fabrics and cotton. Imagine how frustrating it must have been to be a woman during this time. Kenner’s sanitary pads were imperative to improving personal hygiene within womanhood, yet her life-changing invention was rejected, due to racial conflict and discrimination. Kenner stated, "One day I was contacted by a company that expressed an interest in marketing my idea. I was so jubilant. I saw houses, cars and everything about to come my way." Unfortunately, the company rejected her invention after meeting her in person. "Sorry to say, when they found out I was black, their interest dropped. The representative went back to New York and informed me the company was no longer interested." Despite being rejected based on her identity, she continued inventing. Kenner had a total of five different patents which were for the sanitary pad, the walker attachment, disposable ashtrays, shower wall & the back washer, and a convertible top for a car’s rumbles seats. The” sanitary napkin”, wasn’t released for use until 1956, thirty years after she had first created it.

The thing I love the most about Kenner is that she never gave up on contributing her inventions to the society. Regardless of the bumps in the road, she remained consistent and never let anyone convince her that no was an option. Being that I plan on releasing my own organic sanitary pad with my mother, Kenner’s story encourages me to always strive regardless of disapproval. Taking an idea from your mind and creating a 3D model of it, is not an easy task. The steps after that to seek clientele and approval can be even more challenging. “To be a black woman in America you must work twice as hard as the average person”. Kenner was a fearless, determined, innovative and headstrong Taurus, like me. My goal is to rise above the norm and contribute my very own unique, organic sanitary pad, for women who are vegan, have sensitive skin, or simply interested in trying new products.

Furthermore, being that I am one of the very few in my family to attend college and become wealthy, this is the start of a wealthy and healthy bloodline. Mary Kenner was truly a phenomenal black woman and I am thankful for her contributions to womanhood.

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