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Women's History Month: Women's Historical Activism

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American Activists

Alice Stokes Paul devoted her life to securing equality for women. She led the National Women's Party, a radical wing of the suffragist movement, whose tactics included protests and hunger strikes. Following passage of the 19th Amendment, she authored the Equal Rights Amendment and introduced it to Congress in 1923. As founder of the World Women's Party, Paul fought for the inclusion of gender equality into the United Nations Charter, and the establishment of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Fannie Lou Hamer worked to secure social, economic, and political rights for African Americans. She entered the civil rights movement after attending a meeting encouraging African Americans to register to vote. She was arrested and beaten for her work. In 1964, she co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and spoke at the National Convention, where she called for mandatory integrated state delegations. Hamer continually worked to put the plight of African Americans in the public eye.
Dolores Huerta became an activist in 1955, fighting for Latino's economic improvement and civil rights. In 1965 Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers Union (UWF) with Cesar Chavez. During the 1965 Delano Grape Strike, Huerta organized a strike of over 5,000 grade workers and a wine company boycott. This led to a three-year contract between California and the UWF. She continued to represent workers for decades by advocating for workers' unemployment and healthcare benefits, protesting the use of harmful pesticides, and bargaining for improved working conditions. She was honored by NWHM in 2021.
Dr. Dorothy Irene Height dedicated her life to actualizing the vision of a socially and politically equitable in the United States. She served as president of the National Council of Negro Women from 1957 - 1997, becoming the most influential woman within the Civil Rights Movement's leadership. She also served on the staff of the National Board of the YWCA of the USA for more than 30 years. Height was instrumental in fighting for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities, and public accommodations.
Ruby Hurley was on the front lines of the modern Civil Rights Movement as a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People executive. Hurley became the NAACP's National Youth Secretary in 1943. Over the next decade she organized youth councils and college chapters, building a base of 25,000 youth members. NAACP Youth Council members launched the 1960s sit-in movement, proving the value of the foundation Hurley laid down. Hurley was promoted to regional director in 1952 and engaged in each major even of the Civil Rights Movement. She was the rare woman to hold a senior leadership position in a national civil rights organization.
Champion of temperance, abolition, African American rights, the rights of labor, and equal pay for equal work, Susan B. Anthony devoted  her life to organizing the woman suffrage movement. Anthony was a key leader and headed the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She was arrested several times throughout her life for voting and protesting. In 1979, she became the first American woman commemorated on a circulating coin when the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was released.
Author, lecturer, and chief philosopher of the woman's rights movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton formulated the agenda for woman's rights that guided the fight for suffrage. As president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, she was an outspoken social and political commentator and debated the major political and legal questions of the day. Lecturing across the country, she spoke on topics like maternity, child rearing, divorce law, temperance, and presidential campaigns. She worked to change the way women were seen in society, constantly working for women's rights even beyond the vote.
Activist Mary Eliza Church Terrell ardently supported both the women's suffrage movement and African American rights. She developed a strategy for African American women to become full citizens of the United States. While serving as president of the National Association of Colored Women, she campaigned tirelessly among black organizations and mainstream white organizations to achieve black woman's suffrage. After the passage of the 19th Amendment, Terrell continued to fight for civil rights. Her efforts helped ban discrimination in public places in Washington, DC.

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