- Elizabeth Teleisha
Women Who Have Changed Our World
As we come to the end of Women’s History Month, it is important to recognize its origins and the women that paved the way for us today.
Women’s History Month began to be recognized as a national celebration in 1981. However, the month that we have now was originally a week. The week of March 7th was considered “Women’s History Week” and was proposed to be a time to recognize women’s fundamental role in society. However, six years later, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP, now known as the National Women’s History Alliance), fought for Women’s History Month in order to create a more inclusive picture of American history. This fight was successful and through a Presidential Proclamation by Ronald Reagan, Women’s History Month was established.
Women’s History Month is a time to appreciate women’s contributions to American society. Innumerable amounts of women have made contributions to society, and it is of extreme importance to try to recognize all of them, especially the ones that not everyone knows about.
Here are eight women that have changed our world:
Lilian Bland: Lilian Bland was a woman far from the convention of her time. She was a press photographer, taught jiu-jitsu, opened a car dealership, and did pretty much everything that most would consider “out of her time.” In August of 1910, she designed, built, and flew her own airplane. She called it the Mayfly, thinking that it may or may not fly. She became the first woman in the world to take on this feat. Unfortunately, after this event, many forgot about her. She is not as well known as Amelia Earhart who became celebrated as the top female pilot. However, Lilian Bland’s contributions prove to be vital and a tremendous step for female pilots.
Mamie Till Mobley: Mamie Till Mobley helped to inspire the Civil Rights Movement. Many know of her son, Emmett Till who was murdered in Mississippi by two white men. Mamie Till Mobley insisted that her son’s body be displayed during the funeral in order to show the world what these men had truly done to him. At this funeral, over 100,000 people saw what they had done to his body, causing a widespread Civil Rights demonstration. Throughout the rest of her life, Mobley fought against discrimination. Although she never was able to receive justice for her son, her work proves to have made a tremendous mark in the fight for Civil Rights in America.
Claudette Colvin: Claudette Colvin was the first to refuse to give up her seat on the bus, before Rosa Parks. At just fifteen years old, she knew she wanted to do something to make an impact and change the world. This time came on March 2, 1955. She and other black students were told to give up their bus seats for a white woman. She refused and was arrested. This event occurred 9 months before Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat away, but the NAACP chose to use Rosa Parks as the face of their movement since Colvin had been an unwed mother (as she became pregnant at 16). However, Colvin truly displayed determination and courage and this should be recognized.
Betty Friedan: Betty Friedan is a leading figure in the 20th century fight for women’s rights. She is the author of the Feminist Mystique which revealed how many women feel discontent being housewives. She expressed her anger towards the ideal that women are expected to find happiness in marriage, having children, and pleasing their husbands. This book sparked feminism in the 1960s. Friedan was also the cofounder and president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She fought for abortion rights and women’s equality in general.
Audre Lorde: Audre Lorde was an influential poet and author. She was born to immigrants from Grenada and grew up in Manhattan. She was legally blind, had a speech impediment, and was black and queer- she had to fight for the rights of every aspect of her identity. Through her beautiful poems and strong words, she was able to use her experiences to foster diversity and acceptance in an unaccepting world. She was prominent in criticizing the women’s rights movement for focusing simply on able-bodied white women, and encouraged the movement to expand in order to provide rights for everyone.