19 Visionary Americans to Recognize for Women’s History Month

In the United States, March is the month of GIRL POWER!! 2019 marks 32 years since the first ever National Women’s History Month—a celebration which is declared yearly via Presidential Proclamation. This year, the National Women’s History Alliance has decided upon the theme “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence,” which recognizes “women who have led efforts to end war, violence and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.” Listed below are 19 American women who inspire and exemplify this year’s theme! 

1. Mae C. Jemison

Inspired by the African-American actress, Nichelle Nichols, Jemison became the first African American women accepted into the NASA astronaut training program. Jemison broke barriers for women of color onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour and famously noted that "society should recognize how much women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.” Prior to joining NASA, she worked as a Peace Corps medical researcher in Sierra Leone and Liberia. 

2. Kathy Kelly

A 2019 National Women’s History Alliance Honoree, Kathy Kelly is a "peace activist, pacifist, and author." She is also the founder of the nonprofit “Voices for Creative Nonviolence,” an organization which aims to educate Americans of “the negative impacts of U.S. militarism” in the Middle East.   

3. Jane Addams

The first American women to win the Nobel Peace prize. Along with the help of Ellen Gates Star, Addams founded the United States’ first settlement house, Hull House. A center which provided an “array of vital services,” such as schooling, job training, English classes and daycare. She also assisted in successfully lobbying for an American juvenile court system. 

4. Graciela Sanchez

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree, Graciela Sanchez is a dedicated neighborhood activist and co-founder of the “Esperanza Peace & Justice Center.” Her San Antonio-based center serves the Afro/Latino/Indigenous communities through healing artwork, music and dialogue.  

5. Dolores Huerta

A co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, Dolores Huerta is an advocate for workers’, immigrants’ and women’s rights. Huerta is the mind behind the phrase “sí, se puede,” and in 1993, she was the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. 

6. Zainab Salbi 

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree declared one of the “25 Women Changing the World," Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International, a humanitarian organization, which is “dedicated to serving women survivors of wars by offering support, tools and access to life-changing skills.” She is currently the host of several TV shows on PBS, The Huffington Post and TLC Arabic

7. Dorothy Cotton 

A 2019 National Women’s History Honoree and 1960s Civil Rights activist, Cotton was a highly influential member of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “inner circle” and assisted during the Birmingham Civil Rights campaigns. She founded an organization called the Citizen Education Program, which teaches “disenfranchised people the importance of political participation and methods of nonviolent protest.” 

8. Mary Burnett Talbert

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree and 20th century anti-lynching activist, orator and suffragist, Talbert founded the NAACP in 1910. Through the NAACP, Talbert guided many national campaigns such as the restoration of Frederick Douglass’s house. Talbert was a strong advocate of African Women and the first African-American delegate to the International Council of Women. 

9. Jeannette Rankin

The first American women to hold Federal Office, Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives from Montana in 1916. She was a lifelong pacifist and opposed U.S. interventionism in World War 2. She was the only member who voted against declaring war on Japan in 1941. She helped introduced the 19th Amendment and advocated for the continued expansion of women’s rights throughout her political career. 

10. Deborah Tucker 

A 2019 National Women’s History Honoree and President of the Board of Directors of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Deborah Tucker “has dedicated over 40 years to ending violence” perpetuated within the laws of the United States. An outstanding example of her work includes her efforts to help successfully pass the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. In 2014, she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. 

11. Dr. E. Faye Williams 

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree and the President of the National Congress of Black Women, Dr. E. Faye Williams is an avid activist for peace and human rights. Not only is she a renowned public speaker, but she was the first African American to run a “viable” Louisiana congressional campaign. 

12. Sister Alice Zachmann

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree and founder of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, Sister Alice Zachmann “has dedicated her life to ending war and violence.” Despite constantly receiving threats, she never once ceased her work advocating for the end of U.S. military assistance to Guatemala, aiding Guatemalan torture victims and insisting for justice. 

13. Elise Boulding 

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree and the creator of Peace and Conflict Studies, Boulding insisted that peace must be an everyday practice. Boulding believed that strong families cultivate a peace culture and that building a global civic culture is the first step to ending all world conflicts. Boulding advocated for peace studies to be taught in public schools and was involved in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. 

14. Johannie Carr

An Alabama Civil Rights activist, Carr was a prominent organizer of the 13-month Montgomery Bus Boycotts. She was also heavily involved in producing reform via the American courts system. In 1931, she raised money for the falsely accused African American men of the Scottsboro Trials. And in 1964, she filed suit against the Montgomery Board of Education for their segregationist policies. 

15. Peace Pilgrim

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree and a non-denominational spiritual leader, pacifist and vegetarian, Pilgrim is well-known for her 1953 cross country peace pilgrimage. During her lifetime, she stressed that “when enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.” She died on her seventh cross country march in 1981. 

16. Catherine Brewer 

Mentioned in 2019’s Presidential Proclamation, Catherine Brewer is the first women to earn a bachelor degree in the United States. She graduated in 1841 from Georgia Female College, now known as Wesleyan College. Brewer was one of twenty girls in her class, but was the first when arranged alphabetically. She represented the breakdown of arbitrarily blocking women from upper education. 

17. Sarah Brady

A 2019 National Women’s Honoree and a well-known gun control activist, Brady was called into action after her husband was seriously disabled in the 1981 assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan. She contributed to the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993. And until her death, she was the chairwomen of the nonprofit, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 

18. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

America’s first recognized female physician. Blackwell was admitted to Geneva College in New York as a practical joke. Once at Geneva college, she was endlessly tormented and discriminated against with professors excluding her from labs, forcing her to sit separately and accusing her of being a “bad woman.” In 1857, she opened her own clinic in New York City and made a point to recruit women physicians.

19. Ida B. Wells 

A 20th century journalist, Wells “used her skills as a journalist to shed light on the conditions of African Americans throughout the South.” Wells investigated lynching after one of her friends was personally attacked, and consequently “enraged locals” with her searing reports. Wells was not afraid and traveled abroad to shed light on the horrors of lynching. 

 

Although long, this list does no justice encompassing all the sensational women that have made an impact on our world!! RESEARCH AND LEARN ABOUT THEM!! For, as Jimmy Carter, evoking the words of Dr. Gerda Lerner, proclaimed, "Women’s History is Women’s Right.– It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage and long-range vision.” I encourage you all to draw upon the lives of these amazing women. Be inspired. Change the world!!