Celebrating Women's History Month
March is Women's History Month, and to celebrate we've featured some of the National Women's History Month Project's 2012 Honorees. This year's theme is Women's Education - Women's Empowerment." The honorees were recognized for their "pioneering leadership" and their "impact on the diverse areas of education." You can learn more and read extended biographies of the honorees at the Women's History Month Project website.
Charlotte Forten Grimke
Charlotte Forten Grimke (1837 – 1914) was raised in a wealthy, black abolitionist family. She studied literature and teaching and joined the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society. Grimke went on to teach white children in Massachusetts, and was the first black woman to do so. A champion for education, Grimke taught freed slaves in South Carolina, and later recruited educators in partnership with the United States Treasury in Washington, D.C.
Johanna Mansfield Sullivan
Johanna Mansfield Sullivan (1866 – 1936), commonly referred to as Annie Sullivan, grew up nearly blind due to untreated infections, and was without access to an education. While in an orphanage in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, Sullivan advocated for her education and was rewarded; at 14 she began at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. After graduating at the top of the class and undergoing several successful operations to restore her eyesight, Sullivan began teaching, and instructed the now famous Helen Keller. Sullivan and Keller’s teacher-student relationship blossomed into friendship and the two became advocates for the American Foundation for the Blind; both received honorary degrees from Temple University.
Gracia Molia de Pick
Gracia Molia de Pick (b. 1929) began her activism young; at just 16 she founded Partido Popular, the only political party in Mexico at the time advocating for women’s suffrage. After moving to California in 1957, she earned two Education degrees. Later in life Molina de Pick founded several programs of study, including Chicana & Chicano Studies at Mesa College and Third World Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to start many organizations advocating equality for women, including the premier Chicana feminist association in Mexico. Her many achievements were celebrated in San Diego, California on January 12, 2010 for Gracia Molina de Pick day.
Okolo Rashid (b. 1949) was born to a family of sharecroppers and grew up in the tumult of racial strife in the south. She has been a longtime advocate of social justice, multiculturalism, and anti-racism. After earning degrees in economics and public policy, she has had a varied career life, specializing in community development projects including historic preservation, working primarily with inner city communities and grassroots organizations. She helped found and is executive director of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Mississippi.
Brenda Flyswithhawks (b. 1950) is a member of the Eastern Band of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) Nation and an American Indian activist and educator, as welll as traditional dancer, singer, drummer, and storyteller. She is one of the first women of the Cherokee Nation to receive a Ph.D. and works as an advocate for the American Indian community both within and across cultural circles. She teaches at Santa Rose Junior College and initiated the SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project in 1995. She is now co-director of the national SEED Project based at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College.