When superheroes first appeared in comic books, many minority groups were heavily underrepresented. There was a criminally small percentage of black women in comics. Black comic book characters just didn't really appear in DC or Marvel Comics until the 1970s when Blaxploitation films were at the peak of their popularity. Comics with black girls slowly began to trickle out (usually as sidekicks serving brief tenures with established heroes). Over time, their importance increased and, eventually, we got the female African American comic books we desperately needed.
Over the years, we have gotten some amazing black superheroes in both mainstream and independent comics. Though other minorities groups have also gained traction in comics over the years, many simply were too politically incorrect to be embraced and admired. There is still room for more inclusion of (actually cool) characters that represent the disabled and LGBTQ communities. Companies are recognizing these needs and are slowly working to fill these gaps.
And while we wait (somewhat) patiently for better representation and inclusion, it's also important to recognize the fierce black heroines and women superheroes who kick ass in the pages of our favorite comic books.
Storm began her comic career as one the first major black female heroes and one of the first black comic book characters generally. One of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men comics, Ororo Munroe served as leader of the X-Men after Cyclops resigned.
Her expert hand-to-hand combat skills helped her defeat the Morlocks leader Callisto when challenged to a fight to the death. Even when her weather manipulation powers were temporarily neutralized, she still overcame her enemies and proved herself to be a force of nature.
Known for channeling the powers of the animal kingdom, Mari Jiwe McCabe brought ferocity to two opposing sides of the DC Comics world. As a member of the Justice League, she has saved the lives of her colleagues when faced with Amazo.
During her time with the Suicide Squad, Vixen learned to control her animal instincts and became a more tempered hero. Throughout her superhero career, she never ignored her connection to the animal kingdom and became an active animal rights activist.
Former cop Misty Knight has dedicated her life to ridding New York City of its criminals. Though she lost her right arm in a bombing, she overcame depression and found her purpose in crime fighting.
While she often worked alone (and undercover), she is best known for her frequent partnerships with the Heroes for Hire (she's even led the team) and her best friend Colleen Wing. She has worked with notable superheroes such as the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Mr. Fantastic.
As DC Comics' first African American female superhero, Karen Beecher began as a fake hero but soon developed into a powerful ally of the Teen Titans. Though she has powers through the use of a special suit, her greatest weapon is her superior education as a research engineer.
This education has made her essential to the creation of weapons at S.T.A.R. Labs. She also joined the Doom Patrol and assisted with fighting the Aristocrats and the Secret Six.