There are so many influential black women in history that your school will never teach you about; and we here at Women’s Republic find it so upsetting that these strong, no bullshit type of women are not given the credit they truly deserve. So, to honor these women this Black History Month, we have begun the first installment of “Black Women You Probably Won’t Hear About At School,” which will continue throughout the rest of this month!
- Fannie Lou Hamer
Hamer worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to drive black voter registration, despite frequently encountering violence and threats from white supremacists. During the 1964 Democratic Convention, Hamer called out Mississippi’s all-white delegation, and this eventual testimony led to President Lyndon Johnson to call an impromptu press conference to get her testimony taken off the air. She later became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
- Marsha P. Johnson
Johnson was a black transgender woman and gay liberation activist. Her efforts included mentoring and providing housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youth as well as an AIDS activist with the organization Act Up. In the early 1970s, Johnson would go on to co-found the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR).
- Ruby Bridges
At the young age of 6 years, old Ruby Bridges was the first child to integrate an all-white elementary school in the South racially. Her arrival at the school eventually led to protests and threats of violence. She and her mother had to be escorted by federal marshals. Despite the backlash her presence received, she and her family did not budge, which would eventually pave the way for other students to desegregate other all-white schools. To this day, Bridges still speaks about her experience and how to make a difference.
- Dorothy Height
Height spent her whole life fighting for racial equality and women’s rights, and she often spoke about how racism and sexism were linked struggles for black women. Along with her many integration efforts, Height was also one of the 1963 March On Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. She also co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus and served on the boards of several national civic organizations. Height would later go onto receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.
- Audre Lorde