March is Women’s History Month!! Although this month is awesome it’s often used to focus on the white feminists of the 19th century like Susan B. Anthony, which is honestly a disservice to so many women of color that have fought for women’s rights. So in honor of this magnificent month, I wanted to highlight some kickass women of color that have impacted the world for the better.
Barbara Jordan was a Texas state senator and U.S. congresswoman in the ’60s and ’70s and was the first Black state senator since 1883! She was also the first Black woman to be elected into congress in the 20th century from the South. Although Jordan was very private about her personal life, many historians believe she was gay. Jordan had multiple sclerosis and had a caregiver Nancy Earl, who spent almost 30 years with Jordan and many believe they were partners.
Cecilia Chung, a transgender woman living with HIV, has served as a vocal advocate for equality and social justice. As an immigrant from Hong Kong, she made San Francisco her home in 1984 and has been making history in the city ever since. Among her many accolades, she was the first Asian and trans woman for the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Celebration. In 2015 she created Positively Trans, a network of trans people living with HIV, led by trans people of color living with HIV.
Sylvia Mendez is a civil rights activist and was the student behind the court case Mendez v. Westminster that served as a model for Brown vs. Board. In 1944, Mendez’s family tried to enroll her in a local elementary school, who denied her admittance because she’s Hispanic. In 1945 her family sued the school district and won! Mendez was a nurse for more than 30 years before retiring and she went on to teach others about her court case. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011!
Wilma Mankiller was the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and a vocal advocate for indigenous rights. She got involved with activism through San Francisco’s Indian Center and in 1969 when Native American students got control over Alcatraz prison to try to reclaim it, she got even more involved. In 1977 she moved back to Oklahoma with her children. After this, she created a community program for the small town that improved housing and created a new water system!
Tracey Norman was the first Black trans model in the 1970s. She was the face of an iconic Clairol hair color and modeled for Essence and Italian Vogue. Unfortunately, Norman was outed in the ‘80s, and her agency stopped helping her find work. She moved to Paris and found more modeling work before eventually getting involved with the drag-ball community in New York. She was inducted into the ballroom hall of fame in 2001. Clairol invited Norman back to be the face of their Nice ‘n Easy campaign in 2016!
I highly suggest you all read more about these awesome women because this post is barely scratching the surface of how cool they are. And they’re just a few women across the world that are doing amazing things every day. So Happy Women’s History Month everyone!!