Ten of the most important women in U.S. history

Mae Jemison (1992)

Mae Jemison (1992)

However different these ten women may be in most respects, all of them share this in common: They had or continue to have a great impact on the quality of life and the standard of living for everyone in the United States.

1. Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Former slave, 6’2”, traveled throughout the United States advocating for human rights and abolition of slavery.

2. Harriet Tubman (1822-1913): Launched the “Underground Railroad” and kept it running.

3. Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931): journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement.

4. Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960): folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance.

5. Rosa Parks (1913-2005): A domestic worker in Montgomery who refused to sit to the rear of a bus; the U.S. Congress called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.

6. Daisy Bates (1914-1999): Civil rights leader, journalist, publisher, and author.

7. Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000): She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950 and was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.

8. Toni Morrison (1931- ): Born Chloe Aurelia Woodford, she is an American novelist, editor, and professor.

9. Oprah Winfrey (1954- ): Multi-media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist.

10. Dr. Mae Jemison (1956- ): Physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

Other than Oprah Winfrey and perhaps Rosa Parks, whose names do you recognize? Of them, how much do you know? Do yourself a favor and check them out. There is a wealth of information about them at Wikipedia, an international treasure that deserves our generous support.

Several of the women are discussed in Gail Collins’ America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, published by William Morrow (2007).

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  1. northierthanthou on December 6, 2014 at 7:52 am

    I would have thought Eleanor Rosevelt would have merited a spot in there, …or perhaps Scajawea?

    • bobmorris on December 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

      I share your high regard for both.

      Who would you delete to make room for them?

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