Women's History Month
Every year the month of March is dedicated to American women’s history, and each year there is a different theme for this period of time. However, this year, due to COVID-19, the theme from last year has been rolled over to this year as well. This theme being: Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.
Women’s History Month is important because of the role that women have played in history, and how they have often been erased or overlooked for their accomplishments in the past. This month of respect and remembrance is a way to honor the women of the past and to uplift the women of the future. Women play a vital role in society, whether it be pioneering out in the streets fighting for civil rights, or it be at home taking care of a family. Thus, there are many prominent women throughout history who deserve to have their name spoken and their actions shared.
Claudette Colvin is an essential part of the civil rights movement that is often forgotten, however, without her there would not have been as much of a movement. On March 2, 1955, Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a bus. She did this nine months before Rosa Parks, making her the first black woman to do so. Although this was acknowledged at the time, the movement chose to overlook it and have Parks do the same due to Colvin being a teenager and having been pregnant in the past. Now, Colvin has two children and is a retired nurse aid, living a quiet life outside of all the glory.
Mildred Ella ‘Babe’ Didrikson Zaharias was an exceptional American athlete. She initially competed in the U.S. Women’s Track and Field Championship, on a team by herself. At this championship she won five events and the overall championship. After this massive victory, she went on to the 1932 Olympics where she would win one silver medal and two gold medals. Following this incredible feat, she decided to take the golf world by storm and become the first woman to play in an all-male PGA event. During this time she racked up the longest winning streak in golf history, and still holds the record to this day. She then went on to form the Ladies Professional Golf Association with twelve other women.
Sojourner Truth was born a slave in 1797, having been bought and sold four times, subjected to harsh physical labor and even crueler punishments. She had five children while in slavery, and in 1827 she took one of her infant children and ran away to a nearby abolishionist family. This family would go on to buy her freedom for twenty dollars and assist her in suing for the return of her 5-year-old son that was illegally sold into slavery. Truth went on to work for a local minister and started to speak out against slavery with the help of other abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas. She is famous for having given a speech on the evils of slavery, opening up about the truth and horror behind it all.
Jeannette Rankin was a women’s rights activist and the first woman ever to hold federal office. She was elected to the House of Representatives under the Republican party in Montana in 1916 and again in 1940. Her initial election happened before women even had the right to vote. She was a known pacifist, and is remembered for her anti-war beliefs. Staying true to that stance, she voted against entering World War I in 1917. Also while in office, she introduced the first bill that would allow women to have independent citizenship from their husbands. In 1940, she ran again with her anti-war stance (that cost her the re-election in 1918), and was elected, allowing her to once again vote against entering World War II.
Chien-Shiung Wu was an american-chinese physicist that was recruited by Columbia University to work on the Manhattan Project. Throughout 1943, she worked as one of the senior scientists on the atom bomb and conducted research on radiation detection and uranium enrichment. After her work on the project, she was approached by Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang to disprove the law of conservation of parity. Under her findings using the chemical isotope cobalt-60, she was able to disprove the theory by showing that the laws of nature were not always symmetrical. However, her name was not included and left only Lee and Yang to win the Nobel Prize in 1957 for their discovery.
Throughout history, women of all races have paved the way for the advancement of America. Most of them had to do so while receiving no recognition or acknowledgment for their actions. Instead, they did it for the betterment of society and to keep progressing forward. This month is a time to reflect on these actions and accomplishments, taking the time now to give them the recognition they deserve and to say their names, which are often erased and hidden from history, even though they were the ones writing it.