Women’s Appreciation Month

The women you didn’t learn about in history class

Women’s Appreciation Month is a time to celebrate what women have accomplished, but also a time to remember there is still work to be done. In honor of this month, I decided to highlight some women that haven’t been traditionally recognized. We’ve all heard of Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart; but while these women are extraordinary, I wanted to take some time to appreciate those who have been left in the background for far too long:

1.     Dolores Huerta

If you know the name Caesar Chavez, you should also know the name Dolores Huerta. Unfortunately, most have not. After meeting at the Stockton Community Service Organization (which she co-founded), Chavez and Huerta launched the National Farm Workers Association. Huerta was, and still is, an activist in her own right. She is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century as well as a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement. At 90 years old, she still actively fights for the rights of farm workers and many others. She was arrested just last year at a protest in Fresno: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/08/20/dolores-huerta-civil-rights-leader-arrested-fresno-labor-protest/2068197001/

If you would like to learn more about Huerta, or you would like to support her work, here is a link to her foundation page: https://doloreshuerta.org/dolores-huerta/

2.     Victoria Cruz

Victoria Cruz is the first transgender woman of color to receive the National Crime Victim Service Award. She has worked tirelessly for the LGBTQ+ community and the anti-violence movement. Cruz survived the 1969 Stonewall Riots, a raid on a gay club in New York City that led to days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement. The Stonewall Riots were a catalyst for the gay rights movement. When Cruz was growing up, there wasn’t a word for transgender. She helped change that. She shares more in the Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Martha P. Johnson. Click here if you would like to support the transgender and anti-violence community in honor of Cruz: https://avp.org/get-involved/valuetranslives/

3.     Beulah Henry

Beulah Henry was a highly successful American inventor. In the 1930s, Beulah Henry was dubbed the “Lady Edison.” I personally don’t understand why she would need to be connected to Edison in order for her accomplishments to sound significant, but that may help explain why we have a Women’s Appreciation month and not a Men’s Appreciation month. She earned 49 patents, but the number of her actual inventions total over 110. Her goal was to improve the daily lives of others, and she greatly enjoyed working with machines. Some of her notable inventions include the can opener, hair curler and vacuum ice cream freezer. To learn more about Henry—particularly how we couldn’t eat ice cream like we do now without her—click here: https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/the-woman-who-created-the-first-ice-cream-c42cc6a35878

4.     Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is a Jordanian-American activist and tech entrepreneur. She founded Muslim Women’s Day, held every  year on March 27. She is also the founder of MuslimGirl.com (https://muslimgirl.com/). She encourages the representation of women in media and believes Muslim women’s concerns need to be equally addressed. They don’t have a wide enough voice, and she tries to offer that through her work. For further reading, click here: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/26/middleeast/muslim-girl-amani-al-khatahtbeh/index.html

5.     Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink

Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink encountered much racial and gender discrimination over the course of her life. She wasn’t admitted into medical school because of her race and gender, so she chose to find a place in politics in order to bring about change. She was the first Japanese American woman as well as the first woman of color to be elected to the United States Congress. She was also the first Japanese American woman to practice law in Hawai’i. Her work has brought about legislative reforms in health care, education, women’s rights, civil rights, conservation, employment and environmental affairs. Most notably, she co-authored the Title IX law, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. To learn more about Mink, click here: https://www.civilbeat.org/2020/01/patsy-minks-legacy-lives-on-but-theres-more-to-be-done/

6.     Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was the first African American woman to head a federal agency. She was a special adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the problems of minority affairs. Her title later changed to Director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. She also started a school for African American girls in 1904 with only $1.50. To learn more about her and how her school evolved, click here: https://www.cookman.edu/about_bcu/history/

7.     Laura Cornelius Kellogg

Laura Cornelius Kellogg was a Native American activist. She was an Oneida leader and the founder of the Society of American Indians. She was the voice of her people in both national and international forums. She pursued land claims and helped bring Native Americans into 20th century politics. She was also a poet and playwright. To read more about Kellogg, click here: https://muse.jhu.edu/book/40161 Alternatively, if you would like to read some of her poetry, click here: https://poets.org/poet/laura-cornelius-kellogg

These women are extraordinary and it’s frankly amazing to me that I hadn’t heard of any of these women before deciding to do research. I think it’s a lesson worth learning, though. What qualifies someone to be widely recognized? These women certainly fit the bill when it comes to accomplishments, but is there something more behind their obscurity? I leave you with those questions ,and a reminder to recognize women and people in general, even when it’s not popular to do so.

Author: Emily Bogdanov | Staff Writer

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