For as long as I can remember, I have loved history. I truly believe that you cannot understand what to do next if you do not understand what has happened in the past. Nothing occurs in a vacuum and every person who has contributed to the building of America deserves to be celebrated. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to highlight every single person who has contributed to politics, social justice, art, or countless other disciplines. However, one group tends to be under celebrated no matter how major their contribution has been. Black women. Despite the fact that black women helped build the country into what it is today, their stories have been largely erased from the history that is taught to most Americans. Even with the rise of the gender equality movement and a push to introduce women’s stories into a discipline that has been dominated by men, the stories of black women have still been diminished. During the past campaign cycle, I constantly heard people talk about how Hillary Clinton was a trailblazer for women in politics, but what about Shirley Chisholm? Why can’t the discussion be about how both of those women, alongside others, have paved the way for women across the United States? There is no doubt that intersectionality is hard, but we can do better. Black women have made just as many contributions to American society as any other groups and they deserve to be recognized in the same way.
Unfortunately, even the black women who have become household names, have not been celebrated fully or their story has been manipulated to make it more palatable. For example, I remember learning that Rosa Parks was a tired, older woman who needed a seat because she had worked a long day, not an activist who was executing a plan to promote justice. Teaching the history of a formidable leader in that way does everyone a disservice. In this blog, I hope to elevate the stories of a few black women in American history who have played significant roles, but have not been remembered by most. This is by no means comprehensive. I am sure that there are hundreds of stories that deserve to be told, but I hope that by starting this, someone will dig a little deeper and learn more about some incredible women who have shaped the nation.