Taraji, Coco Gauff & More Shine Bright as Time’s 2024 Women of the Year


February 26, 2024

Black women have secured four of the 12 spots on this year’s list.

TIME announced its annual list of Women of the Year, and among the influential figures named for 2024, four Black women stand out for their exceptional contributions across various fields. Coco Gauff, Taraji P. Henson, Andra Day, and Jacqui Patterson have rightfully earned their spots on this esteemed list, showcasing the diverse and impactful roles Black women play in shaping our world.

Coco Gauff

Credit: Christopher Pike/Getty Images

A beacon of unwavering determination, Gauff etched her name in history last September at the U.S. Open final, seizing her first Grand Slam championship at a mere 19 years old. Her backhand winner generated inspiration in the tennis world, a triumph that even bungee jumping off New Zealand’s tallest building twice couldn’t surpass. Gauff’s motivation remains untarnished by the glitz, glam, or the ‘Face of Tennis’ tag. According to TIME, she’s fixated on filling her home with major trophies, not accolades. While a loss at the Australian Open in January marked a setback, Gauff’s journey, progressing at her own pace, has already fulfilled the promise she displayed at Wimbledon in 2019. Recognized as the world’s highest-paid female athlete, earning over $22 million in 2023 predominantly from endorsements, she proudly represents diversity in a sport where it’s often lacking. As a young activist from a family rooted in social change, Gauff uses her platform to speak out against injustice, recognizing the responsibility that comes with her journey into adulthood.

Taraji P. Henson

Credit: Getty Images

Taraji P. Henson has graced screens with roles that emanate charisma, defiance, and determination. Known for commanding characters like Cookie Lyon in Empire and the vivacious Shug Avery in The Color Purple, her presence is greater than any on-screen role. Beneath the big personas she portrays lies a vulnerability she’s now courageously sharing. In candid revelations, Henson has shared the harsh realities of being a Black woman in Hollywood, where the fight for fair pay and equal treatment persists–despite her decades-long success. TIME shared, she’s dismantled the façade, highlighting the systemic pay gap, an issue also echoed nationwide. Henson’s tearful interview with Gayle King sparked a vital conversation, resonating beyond her Hollywood peers. Despite accolades and nominations, she deals with lowball offers and contemplates escaping the industry’s grind through entrepreneurial ventures. Beyond her acting prowess, Henson advocates for mental health awareness in Black communities, testifying before Congress and aspiring to establish a culturally competent rehab center. Her determination to uplift voices and challenge systemic barriers remains unwavering, embodying the resilience of the characters she brings to life.


Andra Day

Credit: CBS

Cassandra “Andra Day” Batie, a soulful force of resilience and vocal brilliance, achieved a career-defining moment at Super Bowl LVIII when she finally seized the opportunity to perform the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” According to TIME, Day had sought this chance for years, turning down invitations to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” until she could showcase the anthem that holds profound cultural significance. Bursting into the music scene in 2015 with the empowering anthem “Rise Up,” Day earned a Grammy nomination, and the song became a powerful rallying cry during Black Lives Matter protests. In 2021, her debut in Lee Daniels’ film “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” earned her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination, marking a transformative performance that left an indelible mark. However, the toll of portraying Billie Holiday–including smoking to emulate Holiday’s voice–took a toll on Day’s vocal cords. Relentless, she faces the challenge of healing her voice as she prepares to release her second album, “Cassandra,” this spring. Day, fully aware of expectations, plans to authentically share her experiences and explore new musical realms, showcasing her evolution as an artist.

Jacqui Patterson

Credit: Environmental Change and Security Programs

Jacqui Patterson, sets her gaze on the intersectionality of justice in the overlooked corners of our world. In Sandbranch, Texas, a mere 11 miles from Dallas, but worlds away, she witnessed the disparity plaguing the community – lacking running water, burning trash in backyards. Struck by the weight of this injustice, Patterson founded the Chisholm Legacy Project in 2021, breaking free from the restrictions of traditional nonprofits that often fail to address the intricate web of systemic issues. TIME reports, Patterson refuses to let communities like Sandbranch fade into oblivion. Her approach tackles environmental problems, poverty, racial discrimination, and gender inequality, recognizing that these challenges are interconnected and demand a holistic response. Drawing inspiration from Shirley Chisholm’s legacy, Patterson takes an intersectional approach, uniting social movements to create meaningful change. Her current focus is ensuring that federal climate investments become a catalyst for positive change in marginalized communities, understanding that civil rights encompass every aspect of life, from the economy to housing, transit, and beyond.

These luminaries remind us that the path forward is paved not just with personal triumphs, but with a commitment to uplifting others and forging a more equitable future. May the lights of these Black women continue to shine brightly as architects of change.

Click here to see the full list of TIME’s 2024 Women of the Year.


Cover photo: These Four Black Women Shine Bright as Time’s 2024 Women of the Year / Credit: BOTWC

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