March is Women’s History Month! This month-long celebration officially began in 1987 when Congress signed a resolution that established the holiday and declared that the president must announce each annual celebration. In honor of Women’s History Month, below you will discover ten influential American women and their inspiring words from the past one hundred years who have taken incredible steps to further their fields, set unprecedented records, work towards equal rights, and ultimately shape the world as it is today.
Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. She went on to set many other records, write books about her accomplishments, and perform feminist work that included forming an organization for women pilots, all before she disappeared in 1937 at the age of 39.
Rachel Carson is known for writing the book Silent Spring that played a key role in advancing and raising awareness about the environmental movement. Carson, a marine biologist and conservationist, wrote her book in 1961 on the environmental effects of pesticides, which famously led to the banning of the pesticide DDT.
Dolores Huerta is a labor and civil rights activist known for co-founding a labor union organization for American farmers, which later became known as the United Farm Workers (UFW). She was involved in organizing the famous 1965 Delano Grape Strike and in negotiating the contracts for workers afterwards. She has won many prestigious awards for her incredible work including the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest honor for an American civilian.
Ella Baker was a prominent civil rights and human rights activist during the Civil Rights Movement and the decades after. During the Civil Rights Movement, she mentored leaders like Rosa Parks and Stokely Carmichael, worked along prominent figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and W.E.B. Du Bois, organized lunch counter sit-ins as a form of protest, began an organization called the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and supported equality for women.
Barbara Walters became the first female news anchor in 1976 when she became the co-anchor of a network nightly news program, the ABC Evening News. A renowned television journalist, Walters went on to host other prominent shows like Today, The View, and 20/20.
Toni Morrison is a novelist and essayist and has won the Nobel Prize in Literature and a Pulitzer Prize for her literature full of rich language often depicting the lives of African-American characters. She is known for several notable works including Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Sula.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States after being appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and before retiring in 2006. She was since awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Condoleezza “Condi” Rice
Condoleezza Rice was the first African-American woman to serve as Secretary of State and the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor. She has further been a professor of political science and the provost at Stanford University.
Sally Ride was the first American woman in space in 1983, and the third woman in space worldwide. To this day, Ride still continues to be the youngest person to have ever gone into space, which she did at the age of 32. After leaving NASA in 1987, she went on to work as a physics professor and join the committees investigating the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
Oprah, known as the “Queen of All Media,” is an iconic media personality and philanthropist. She is famous for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and has further gone on to establish the Oprah Winfrey Network, O, The Oprah Magazine, and the entertainment company Harpo Productions. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Deen is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying English Literature, American Culture Studies, and Communication Design. In her free time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains, going to art museums, and eating ice cream.