10 Amazing Women You Don't Know About But Should
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Politics and Activism

10 Amazing Women You Don't Know About But Should

The people that history books left out.

10 Amazing Women You Don't Know About But Should

In history class, you often learn about great accomplishments by great people - that is, if those people are men. Here are 10 fantastic women that you never learned about, but should have.

1. Shirley Chisholm

Before Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm. Born in 1924, Shirley was the first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress in 1968, representing New York State for seven terms. She also ran for President in 1972 - the first Black candidate to be on a major party ticket, as well as the first woman to run for the Democratic Party. She did make it to, but unfortunately, not through, the Democratic Primaries.

2. Marsha P. Johnson

While some may like to credit the Stonewall riots to cisgender, white, gay men, it was in fact trans women of color who led the riots that eventually blossomed into the gay and queer rights movement. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, was the first to resist arrest during the Stonewall Riots of 1969 (while her friend, Sylvia Rivera, a Latina trans woman, threw the first brick). She and Rivera continued their activism beyond the riots - they co-founded STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries, an organization that fought for the rights of trans and gender-nonconforming people) and STAR House (which provided shelter for homeless and runaway trans people). Johnson, who was an HIV-positive sex worker, was also a major marshal and organizer for ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power), an organization that fought for HIV- and AIDS-positive people and was one of the leading voices in the fight for HIV/AIDS medical research and treatment.

3. Marley Dias

From early childhood, Marley loved to read, but she noticed that there was a lack of Black girls and girls of color in literature, and the books that did exist were often left out of school and public libraries. At the age of 11, she decided to do something about it and launched #1000BlackGirlBooks with the goal of collecting 1,000 books that starred young Black girls and women. She has since gathered over 4,000, and is now working on making a black girl book club, and is pressuring school districts to reconsider the books they assign students to read.

4. Wilma Mankiller

Though Cherokee culture tends to be inclusive of women, their leadership did not reflect this for a long, long time. Enter Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, elected in 1987 and reelected in 1991 with a landslide victory. Though she came from a poor family and was forced to relocate several times throughout her childhood due to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Indian Relocation Program, she sought to strengthen the bond between the federal government and the tribal government by founding the Government-to-Government program. She also pushed for community programs and projects that were inclusive of women; these projects helped to not only build equality between men and women, but also establish and strengthen Native-owned businesses as well as improve infrastructure and provide alternative energy to Native communities around the country.

5. Beverly Bond

Beverly is the founder of Black Girls Rock!, Inc. which functions as an organization, think tank, and BET awards show. BGR strives to empower young black women and accomplishes this by acknowledging Black girls and women on their annual awards show, advocating for women of color on the political front via the BGR think tank, and providing mentorship, summer camps, and after-school programs to young Black girls, particularly those interested in pursuing STEM careers.

6. Marva Collins

Though Marva got a shoutout from then-President Ronald Reagan in 1983, very few know about her. She taught as a full-time substitute teacher in the Chicago public schools for 14 years, but was extremely disappointed with how public schools treated Black children, particularly those they labelled "learning disabled". So, in 1975, she used $5,000 of her own retirement fund to start a small private school called Westside Preparatory School. Westside Prep was intentionally kept low-cost so that urban youth that had families with low income could still afford to come, and provided a better education to the children that came. At Westside Prep, Marva used her own method of teaching to get through to children with a variety of behavioral, learning, or social disabilities and issues, and was very successful, earning her the National Humanities Medal along with several other teaching awards, a cameo in Prince's music video for "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World", and a nomination for Secretary of Education from Ronald Reagan (which she declined).

7. Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Though we often hear of her cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt (and for good reason), we rarely hear of the more untamed Alice. Alice was a rulebreaker and rebel during a time when women were forced into very confining roles, gaining public visibility for smoking on the roof of the White House during her father's (Theodore Roosevelt) presidency, keeping a pet snake, riding in cars alone with men (which was seen as highly scandalous), swearing at officials, and even jumping into a cruise ship's pool fully clothed and telling a nearby Congressman to join her. Though a Republican for most of her life, she held progressive ideas on race, with one noted example being when her chauffeur and friend, Turner (who was a Black man), pulled out in front of a cab. The driver of the cab got out and began screaming "What do you think you're doing, you black bastard?". While Turner reacted calmly, Alice was not having it, and replied, "He's taking me to my destination, you white son of a bitch!".

8. Wilma Rudolph

Though she was born prematurely and was paralyzed due to polio until the age of 12, Wilma became a three-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field, and was the fastest woman in the world in the 60s. Throughout her childhood, she and her family struggled to find medical help, due to segregation and discrimination. Her family was poor, and she was the 20th of 22 children, but with the help of her mother and her large but tight-knit family, she was able to be nursed to health as an infant. She continued to get one illness after another, eventually leading to contracting polio at age 4. Through her mother's perseverance, she was able to see the only doctor that would treat African Americans, even though he was 50 miles away, and was able to walk again without any medical devices at 12. From there, she went on to become an Olympic athlete and civil rights activist, fighting for desegregation.

9. Corazon Aquino

The first female President of the Philippines, she started and led the People Power Revolution, which brought democracy back to the Philippines after being under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. She didn't always want to be a politician - at first, it was her husband Benigno Aquino who was Marcos's outspoken opponent. He was jailed, exiled, and assassinated for his views, which led Corazon to take up his cause after his death. While she technically lost the 1985 election to Marcos, she formed and led the People Power Revolution as a way to protest the election fraud committed by Marcos, which eventually led Marcos to flee the country, and Corazon to take his place as President, rather than dictator.

10. You

Women throughout history have been fighting the status quo to accomplish amazing things, and you are no exception. Even if your victories are small, like getting through the day and taking care of yourself, you are marvelous. But you don't need me to tell you that.

Go get 'em, tiger.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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