March is Women's History Month, a time to celebrate and recognize the contributions of women throughout history. The idea for Women's History Month began in the 1970s, when a group of feminists wanted to highlight the role of women in American history. They began by lobbying for a Women's History Week, which was first celebrated in 1980. The week was so successful that it soon turned into a month-long celebration, and in 1987, Congress officially declared March as Women's History Month.
Often overlooked, however, is the role of Black women in the early feminist movement. Despite facing both racism and sexism, Black women played a significant role in the struggle for women's rights. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Black women activists like Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell worked tirelessly to promote women's suffrage, while also fighting against lynching, segregation, and other forms of racial discrimination.
However, their contributions were often ignored or minimized by white feminists, who saw the struggle for women's rights as separate from the fight for racial justice. It wasn't until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that Black women's contributions to both the feminist and anti-racist movements began to be more widely recognized and celebrated.
Today, the legacy of Black women leaders continues to inspire and inform feminist and social justice movements. Read the rest of this blog post to learn about three women from the Civil Rights Movement who continue to inspire us today!
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was an activist and organizer who became known for her work with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Born into a family of sharecroppers in Mississippi, Hamer began working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the early 1960s. She helped to organize the Freedom Summer voter registration campaign in 1964, and later gave a powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention in which she spoke out against voter suppression and racial discrimination. Despite facing violence and intimidation, Hamer remained a tireless advocate for civil rights and voting rights until her death in 1977.
Ella Baker was a civil rights activist and organizer who worked behind the scenes to help build the movement. Born in Virginia in 1903, Baker began her activism career in the 1930s, working with groups like the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She helped to organize the 1960 sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, and later played a key role in the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Baker was known for her emphasis on grassroots organizing and collective leadership, and was a mentor to many young activists during the civil rights era.
Diane Nash was a leader of the Nashville Student Movement, which played a key role in desegregating lunch counters in Nashville in 1960. Born in Chicago in 1938, Nash attended Fisk University in Nashville and became involved in the civil rights movement during her college years. She helped to plan and carry out the successful lunch counter sit-ins, and later played a key role in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation on interstate buses. Nash was known for her fearlessness and determination, and remains a powerful advocate for civil rights and social justice today.
We hope this blog post gave you some insight on three women that helped right history, especially for marginalized communities! If you’re looking for a teammate on your own journey, we’d love to come along with you. Reach out today to Higher Life Pathways to learn more about our services, specialties, and availability. We look forward to hearing from you!