February is Black History Month and, while more and more schools are advocating for the inclusion of the contributions of the African-Americans to the nation’s history as part of the way history is taught to children, it’s disheartening to find out that some teachers don’t really give the topic the proper amount of time it deserves in class.
In the event that African-Americans’ contributions to American history do get the credit they deserve, it’s almost always about what the men did and never about what the women did. So, today, let’s take a look at some of the most important contributions African-American women made to shape history into what it is today.
Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune was a civil rights activist, among many things, and she also founded the National Council for Negro Women in 1935 and headed the Federal Council on Negro Affairs which was better known to most people as the Black Cabinet under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. With the help of the Black Cabinet, African-Americans were given jobs during the Depression Era.
Michigan-born Peggy Anne Donyale Aragonea Peugot Luna, better known as Donyale Luna, was the first black supermodel to gain popularity in the country and abroad back in the 60s. It may sound like a superficial thing to some, but this achievement actually opened up a lot of opportunities for other African Americans in the industry and beyond.
Anna Julia Cooper
One of the most prominent black female scholars in American history, Anna Julia Cooper was born into slavery. Her situation didn’t stop her from becoming a distinguished author and an amazing educator, however, and she was also known as one of the most inspiring Black liberation activists who fought for equality, among other things.
Lynda Blackon Lowery
The Selma to Montgomery marches were one of the most significant events in US history. Around 25,000 people from Alabama marched, protesting the blocking of Black Americans’ voting rights. The youngest person to participate in this was Lynda Blackon Lowery. Inspired by the words of Martin Luther King Jr., Lynda Blackon Lowery decided to join thousands of others in demanding voting rights for African-Americans. The march wasn’t easy and Lynda still bears scars from the wounds she suffered from the protest back in the day, but it was such a powerful move that Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Long before “girls who code” was cool, Raye Montague was breaking barriers and making history for African-Americans and for women all over the country. Raye was a naval engineer famous for being the first female program manager of ships in the US Navy. She’s also credited for being the person to create the first ever computer-generated rough draft of a US Naval ship.