6 Influential Women of Black History
In 1926 the author and historian Carter G. Woodson, known as the“Father of Black History,” who was the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at HarvardUniversity, recognized that the American education system offered very littleinformation about the accomplishments of African Americans and founded theAssociation for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Associationfor the Study of African American Life and History. He then proposed a national“Negro History Week" to showcase everything students learned about Blackhistory throughout the school year.
It wasn't until 1976, during the height of the civil rights movement,that President Gerald Ford expanded the week into Black History Month. Black History Monthis now recognized today in the United States and Canada, while in Ireland andthe United Kingdom, it is observed in October.
As part of our acknowledgment and celebration of Black History Month, wewould like to introduce you to six influential women who impactedsexism, racism, gender equality, inclusion, and consciousness about theenvironment before it became the mainstream topic.
Please join us in celebrating the women who have contributed to the foundation of history from all races, religions, statures, or classifications. They are the backbone of our existence and should be embraced for what they provide to our success.
Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
Audre Lorde made incredible contributions to feminist literature. In her writings, she highlights her experience being a Black lesbian who confronted issues of racism, homophobia, classism, and misogyny, giving voice to other Black female writers and activists.
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)
Ida B. Wells was a prominent Black investigative journalist,educator, and activist in the early civil rights movement. She was oneof the founders of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancementof Colored People) and led a powerful, mighty lynching crusade in the U.S. inthe 1890s.
Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)
Wangari Maathai was the first Black African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in environmental conservation. In the 1970s, she founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on environmental protection and women’s rights. She was also an elected member of Parliament and served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources between 2003 and 2005.
Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Marsha P. Johnson, born Malcolm Michaels Jr., was the first self-identified drag queen in the U.S. She was one of the first openly gay liberation activists and a key figure in the Stonewall riots in 1969. When asked what the "p" in her name stood for, she responded, "Pay it no mind," and continued to use that phrase when asked about her gender identity.
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
The title of bell hooks’ best-known book is drawn from a famous quote by another famous Black woman in history: Sojourner Truth. Truth, a formerly enslaved woman, was one of the abolition movement leaders and women’s rights activists. At a speech at the Women’s Convention in 1851, she said, “I have born 13 children and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?"
Ona Judge (1773-1848)
Ona Judge, known by the Washingtons as "Oney," was a mixed woman born into an enslaved family on Mt. Vernon and brought to Philadelphia to serve at the president’s house. On May 21, 1796, a 22-year-oldOna successfully escaped her enslavement to President George Washington while he and his wife, Mrs. Washington, ate dinner. She fled to New Hampshire. Though she was never freed, the Washington family did not want to risk a public backlash by forcing her to return to Virginia. After years of failing to persuade her to return, the family stopped pressing her to go back.
The list varies by source, but you can see that many have impacted history and are not generally noted. Who will be the next to step onto the mantle and embrace the spirit to lead?
Written by Everette Hubbard - Director of Security and Compliance at Dura Software.