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Celebrating Women’s History Month

Banner image displaying the blog title "Celebrating Women's History Month"

Women's History Month is an annual commemorative month that highlights the contributions of women to history and contemporary society. In the U.S. it is celebrated in March, aligning with International Women's Day on March 8th. It began as "Women's History Day" in 1978. It would later be recognized as a national week in 1980, then an entire month with international reach in 1987.

Established in 1987 as a month to “recognize and celebrate people with disabilities and to encourage expanding opportunities for all people,” Disability Awareness Month helped pave the way for the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. The ADA language articulates the way disabled people are adversely impacted by ableism and discrimination in their daily lives (Whitman College, 2023).

Check out a few phenomenal women change-makers throughout history who've fought for disability rights, equitable access to education, religious freedom, civil rights, environmental justice and more!

Pauli Murray
Pauli Murray 
1910-1985 
Civil Rights Activist 
 
Pauli Murray was a poet, lawyer and educator. She was the first African American woman to be ordained an Episcopal Priest. Murray is an honoree of the American Women quarter program, and will appear on the quarter in 2024.


Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman 
1892-1926 
Aviator 
 
Bessie is the first African American and Native American to hold a pilot license. She Attended Langston University (HBCU) and is an honoree of the American Women quarter program in 2023.



Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai 
1997- Present 
Education Activist 
 
Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and is the author of the international bestseller, I Am Malala. On her 18th birthday, she opened a school in Lebanon.



Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman 
1988 – Present 
Poet & Activist 
 
Amanda was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She delivered her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of President Joe Biden in 2021, and was the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl (LV).


Judy Heumann
Judy Heumann 
1947- 2023 
Disability Rights Activist 
 
Judy was initially denied a teaching license in NYC because of her disability but was able to teach at the elementary level for 3 years and later went on to hold seven honorary doctorates. She helped develop legislation that became the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Ruby Bridges
Ruby Bridges 
1954 – Present 
Civil Rights Activist 
 
Ruby was the first African American student to integrate into the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960. Two elementary schools are named after her: one in California, the other in Washington. In 2007 the Indiana Children's Museum unveiled a permanent exhibit documenting her life.

Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne
Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne 
Civil Rights Pioneers 
 
Leona, Tessie, and Gail were among the first African American students to integrate into McDonogh Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.





Terisa Siagatonu
Terisa Siagatonu 
1988 – Present 
Author, Educator, Community Organizer 
 
Terisa was awarded the Champion of Change award by President Barack Obama in 2014 for her work on climate change, gender equity, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ rights.




Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth 
1797–1883 
Civil Rights Activist 
 
Sojourner was born into slavery and escaped with her infant daughter. In 1828 fought and won a legal battle against the man who had illegally sold her son. She was the first black woman to go to court against a white man and win. Her most famous speech was delivered in Ohio at the Ohio's Women's Rights Convention, titled "Ain’t I a Woman".

Eliza Suggs
Eliza Suggs 
1876-1909 
Author and Temperance Educator 
 
Eliza was diagnosed with what is colloquially known as brittle bone disease. She was educated alongside her siblings and friends, and they carried her to school daily so she could have the same opportunities. She refused offers of placement in museums or circus "freak shows." Suggs published a book called Shadows and Sunshine, about her parent's experiences as slaves and her experience as a black disabled woman.

Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta 
1930 – Present 
Labor Leader and Civil Rights Activist 
 
Dolores was the Co-Founder of the National Farmworkers Association. After teaching elementary school, Huerta left her job and began her lifelong crusade to correct economic injustice. "I couldn't tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children." She is a Presidential Medal of Freedom Honoree for her work.

Eliza Burton Conley
Eliza Burton Conley 
1869-1946 
Lawyer 
 
Eliza is the first Native American woman admitted to argue a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. She is known for her campaign to prevent the sale and development of the Huron Cemetery in Kansas City, now known as the Wyandot National Burying Ground. "In this cemetery are buried one-hundred of our ancestors ... Why should we not be proud of our ancestors and protect their graves? We shall do it..." - Eliza quoted in the Kansas City Times (October 25, 1906).