As Women’s History Month comes to a close this year, it’s difficult not to think about how the role of women continues to be viewed and limited, as evidenced by the election of The Orange Menace. If anything his victory taught me (like so many other privileged people that could choose to stay blind for so long) just how pervasive misogyny and racism continue to be in this country.
I want to close out this year’s Women’s History Month by highlighting women in history that have been hidden and marginalized. We have to see it to believe it.
See a list of women in entertainment and culture compiled in Vibe:
Nina Simone: Born Eunice Waymon in 1933, Nina Simone was a singer, songwriter, activist, and so much more. She has become more and more visible in recent years, but I was first introduced to her music in a college Intro to Jazz class and fell in love with her gritty, deep voice. She was the perfect contrast to my other love, the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. Netflix has a nicely done documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? available for streaming that mostly seeks to understand her struggle to be both an artist and true to herself and her activism.
See a list of Native women in the sciences and activism compiled in Hello Giggles:
With the (much deserved) accolades being given to Hidden Figures, the book about the black women that served as calculators and mathematicians and made space travel happen, let’s not forget women like Mary Golda Ross. She was the first Native female engineer and taught math and science before joining Lockheed. Lockheed gave her additional training and certification and she became a part of their initial group of engineers that began celestial travel research. After retiring she continued recruiting Native women into engineering fields.
And check out this Buzzfeed list that highlights women like Laskarina Bouboulina, who took her husband’s fortunes, grew it, commanded a fleet of ships, joined an underground movement to revolt against the Ottoman Empire, and in general didn’t take any crap from anyone.
Or this list on Chegg which tells us about women like Murasaki Shikibu who is thought to have written the very first novel, and one of Japan’s greatest literary works.
How about Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize? Maathai was born and raised in Kenya before being selected as one of 300 students invited to study in the United States through the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. She returned to Kenya and became the first East African woman to earn a Ph.D. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to conservation, sustainability, and her activism for democracy and women’s rights.
What women inspire you?