For those of you who may not have seen posts from your feminist Facebook friends, March is National Women’s History Month. That’s right ladies, an entire month dedicated to us! Even though we here at Her Campus DePaul believe every month should be NWHM, we are ready to take advantage of the 31 days dedicated to the badass women that came before us. So buckle up, because I am about to bring you weekly articles dedicated to women in history, adding up to a total of 31 women celebrated. Welcome to Week One. Let’s get started…
Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)
Bessie Coleman was an African-American and Native American woman born in Texas, to sharecroppers. She started working in the cotton fields from a very young age, and eventually studied at Langston University for one semester. She became interested in aviation and decided to go to France to obtain her pilot’s licence since the United States did not allow African-Americans, Native Americans, nor women to attend flight school. She became the first African-American woman, as well as the first Native American, to hold a pilot license.
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)
Ida B. Wells-Barnett, or more commonly known as Ida B. Wells, was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist, and civil rights leader. She spent much of her career as a journalist investigating lynching in the United States. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which still exists today. She was active in the women’s suffragette movement and traveled internationally on lecture tours. Fun fact: she was one of the first married American women to keep her last name, choosing to hyphen it.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, serving for 12 years during her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms as president. She was the first First Lady to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column, and speak at a national party convention. She also served as the first United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, after pressing the United States to support and join the UN. She also chaired the John F. Kennedy administration’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
La Malinche (~1496-1529)
La Malinche, also known as Malinalli, Malintzin, or Doña Marina, was a Nahua woman from the Mexican Gulf Coast. She played a vital role in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, some historians even saying that the conquest could not have been possible without her. She was sold to the Spanish as one of 20 slave women. She, fluent in Mayan and Nahuatl, became Hernán Cortés’ interpreter, advisor, and mother of his son, Martín. The historical figure of Marina has been intermixed with Aztec legends (such as La Llorona, a woman who weeps for her lost children). She is well respected by the Spanish but receives mixed responses today in Mexico. Today in Mexican Spanish, the word malinchismo and malinchista is used to denounce Mexicans who are perceived as denying their own cultural heritage by preferring foreign cultural expressions. Despite her controversial image as a traitor to many indigenous Mexicans, she is credited as an important and necessary figure in the Spanish conquest.
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in New York but escaped to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man. She was famous for her many speeches, the most famous being “Ain’t I a Woman?” which advocated for the equal rights for African-American women and white women. Truth helped recruit black troops to the Union Army during the Civil War, and tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants for former slaves.
Queen Lili’uokalani (1838-1917)
Queen Lili’uokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, as well as an author and a composer of Hawaiian music. During her reign, she attempted to draft a new constitution which would restore the power of the monarchy and the voting rights of the economically disenfranchised. Threatened by this attempt, pro-American elements in Hawaii overthrew the monarchy in 1893, backed by the landing of U.S. Marines. After a failed rebellion, Queen Lili’uokalani was placed under house arrest at the ‘Iolani Palace. During her imprisonment, she abdicated her throne in return for the release, and commutation of the death sentences, of her jailed supporters. She was eventually pardoned by the Republic of Hawaii and restored her civil rights. In 1909, she attempted to sue the United States under the Fifth Amendment seeking the return of the Hawaiian Crown Lands but was unsuccessful.
That concludes our first celebration of women in history. These women deserve to be highlighted, and we at Her Campus DePaul are dedicated to celebrating the life and work of women from all walks of life who have contributed to history. Join us next week for Part 2 of our celebration!
All information was obtained from Wikipedia.