These dazzling Black women are the 2022 Portrait of a Nation honorees at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
We told you back in January that these revolutionary women were set to receive this honor and now the time is here! Attorney and children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay and star tennis players Serena and Venus Williams have demonstrated Black excellence through and through and the National Portrait Gallery is giving them their flowers for it!
The Portrait of a Nation Award “recognizes extraordinary individuals who have made transformative contributions to the United States and its people across numerous fields, ranging from the arts and sciences to sports and humanitarianism.” Honorees receive their very own portrait that will be housed in the gallery.
“I think it’s so important for the National Portrait Gallery to see a Black woman smiling. Black women are often seen as serious, and we are, but we are happy as well. We are mothers. We are wives. And we are the backbone of this country,” Serena Williams told PEOPLE. “It’s very rare that you see a piece of art and you see that much teeth. You think about the Mona Lisa, she had a smirk, and now you see a genuine smile.”
Venus Williams shared her reaction to finding out she was a recipient of the award, saying, “I just remember that moment, and it was literally beyond my dreams — and I’ve had some big dreams. I’ve been able to have the opportunity to work for those dreams and live those dreams…I can’t imagine I’m here tonight. We made it.”
Other humanitarians honored among these bold Black women were public health expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Grammy award-winning music executive Clive Davis, and chef and humanitarian José Andrés.
The portraits are currently available for viewing through Oct. 22, 2023, displayed amongst 1,000 Black pioneers which are viewed by millions of travelers annually.
PHOTO: PAUL MORIGI/GETTY FOR NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY/ ERIC KAYNE/INVISION/AP/ JOY ASICO/INVISION/AP