Ladies’s Historical past Month: Simply as within the civil rights motion, Black ladies are main the way in which in at the moment’s social justice activism

Women’s History Month, celebrated in March, was established by Congress to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women throughout American history.

Typically the Civil Rights Memorial Center (CRMC) where I serve as a director creates a website and social media posts this month honoring women who shaped the civil rights movement.

Civil rights activist and NAACP officer Daisy Bates, who led the desegregation effort at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, stands outside her office in September 1957. (Photo by Thomas D. McAvoy / The LIFE Image Collection via Getty Images)

We do this because we firmly believe that women’s stories – which are often overlooked – need to continue to be shared. Their contributions are not often discussed in the movement’s historical context.

It is for this reason that I am kicking off this year’s month-long celebration of women by sharing the stories of some of those who are currently influencing social justice activism.

The CRMC is an interpretation center operated by the Southern Poverty Law Center that contains interactive exhibits about civil rights martyrs. As in many other museums, we have had to move away from personal visits to virtual educational tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if these tours do not take place in person, much remains the same as to how we inspire the audience for the history of the movement.

We continue to ask people online to ponder key events and numbers from the 1950s and 1960s. Almost immediately, we get responses to towering male figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, John Lewis, and Fred Gray.

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer, delegate for the Democratic Party of Freedom in Mississippi, speaks at a delegate assembly on August 22, 1964 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, prior to the official meeting of the Democratic National Convention. (Photo by Bettman via Getty Images)


If you go a little deeper and ask about the participation of women in the movement, some people mention Coretta Scott King or Rosa Parks. But very few can name other eminent figures such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Septima Clark, Jo Ann Robinson, Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray or Daisy Bates.

Today black women continue to make strides in the movement. With the influence of social media platforms, they create space to tell their stories. It’s women like Bree Newsome, the Charlotte, North Carolina activist who removed the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House after the shooting at a historically black church in Charleston. Their actions resulted in the permanent removal of the flag.

Previously in North Carolina, Newsome protested against voter identification laws that disproportionately disenfranchised black and brown voters. Today she continues to use her platform to talk about racial justice issues. In 2017, she became a fair housing activist, including enforcing the last civil rights legislation passed after King was assassinated, the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

When talking about the movements today, you have to mention the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and Opal Tometi.

Chanelle helmet

Chanelle Helm is a Black Lives Matter activist based in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jeff Faughender / USA TODAY Network)

Today, women’s voices and perspectives are critical to a broader struggle for civil and human rights. They are seen and heard from women like Chanelle Helm, a Black Lives Matter activist who leads the way for racial justice in Louisville, Kentucky. Taylor Turnage, a Tougaloo College student and local organizer who was instrumental in removing the Mississippi state flag with a Confederate emblem; and Ash-Lee Henderson, co-executive director of the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee.

Henderson is a longtime activist working on issues of racial justice and environmental racism. She participates in the Southern Workers Assembly and organizes and transforms the workforce across the South.

And then there are women like Jotaka Eaddy, founder of Win With Black Women, a collective of cross-generational, intersectional black women across the country. Called Harriet Tubman of Silicon Valley, she is an extraordinary woman who was born and raised in South Carolina. She is committed to social impact and social justice and continues to use her platform to shape politics and build movements. Eaddy is the epitome of elevating others as she climbs the social and economic ladder.

I often think about the women who made my success possible, in all the ways in which their lives inspired and influenced my journey in the struggle for social justice.

I continue to draw strength, wisdom and knowledge from women from historical and contemporary times. Words don’t even describe the courage, valor, and conviction I feel when I see the rise of so many women who lead movements, organize communities, and defend social justice across races and generations. It is powerful.

The women’s movement has seen gains and losses, but overall it has resulted in a society that is moving towards acceptance and inclusivity and that understands well when successful women lead and do this work together with others.

As we celebrate women this month, we want to honor those who paved the way, even as we support and celebrate the living legends among us. Together, women create a level playing field from which we will all benefit.

Above: The founders of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi (pictured left to right) pose in the green room of the Glamor Women Of The Year 2016 at the NeuenHouse Hollywood on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jeff Vespa / Getty Images for Glamor)

Comments are closed.