Throughout our lives, we have been continuously starved from learning about Black History Month and the people who have made it possible, particularly when it comes to black women.
This Black History Month, I think it’s about time we change that.
Here are 6 influential black women that we should have been taught about ages ago:
- Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree)
In the 1840s and 1850s, Truth was a well-known abolitionist who traveled all over the country to speak against slavery and for the freedom of everyone. Truth is an author and a speaker. She persevered through anything that came her way.
- Mary Eliza Church Terrell
Terrell lived from 1863 until 1954. During her lifetime, she went against her higher status to work in education. Throughout her life, Terrell fought for women’s suffrage, education for adults, anti-segregation, anti-lynching, and the employment of women everywhere. She also co-founded the Colored Women’s League in Washington and founded the National Association of Colored Women (NACW).
- Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Wells-Barnett started the first part of an international campaign against lynching in the United States in 1892. She fought hard to stop lynching from being legalized within the United States and even brought the fight over to England and Scotland, where she traveled to get help with her cause.
- Mary McLeod Bethune
Bethune is known as a leading activist in African American history. She started out her activism in 1904 when she started a small domestic education school for young girls. This school quickly turned into a successful coed college helping so many young persons get an education. Bethune is known for her leadership and not taking no for an answer. She was in charge of countless organizations fighting for the rights and lives of her fellow Black Americans.
- Gwendolyn Brooks
Brooks was a poet and a political activist. Brooks used her poetry to bring light to the black urban experiences. Her poetry was rooted in political activism and she was known to be a bit of a radical, but it worked to her advantage. She won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for the Annie Allen Award in 1950. Her poetry was well read in her lifetime and used frequently to back up the political resistance of her time. Brooks’ poetry was her weapon against injustice.
- Audre Lorde
Lorde is also a well-known political poet and writer. The politics of her time influenced her writing in every aspect. While living as a queer woman of color, she also fought against injustice and was a single parent. She was a truly powerful feminist and her writings are still applicable to this day.
It’s unfair to think that we were not taught about these amazing women throughout our lives; the only time we hear about them is now when we are in charge of our own education.
It’s time for us to expand our education and keep reading. Next time you’re in the library or browsing the internet, take the time to look up these women and many others!
Our history is rich with the influence of people of color and Black History Month is the best time to start this exploration of knowledge.