Inspiring Women Civil Rights Icons Who Fought for Equality
Women activists, abolitionists and political leaders have made crucial contributions to the ongoing fight for civil rights in the United States. While the role of these women can sometimes be overlooked, their impact and influence cannot be understated. Below, we’ve highlighted five women civil rights pioneers whose powerful stories can help teach us about the importance of fighting for equal rights and the power of dedicated individuals to create positive change.
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Born a slave, Sojourner Truth went on to become an influential orator, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. After being sold four times and having five children while in slavery, Truth (originally named Isabella Bomfree) escaped in 1826 with her infant daughter and was taken in by the abolitionist Van Wagener family in New York. With the aid of the Van Wageners, Truth sued her former slave owner for custody of her 5-year-old son and won, marking the first successful lawsuit brought by a Black woman against a white man in U.S. history.
Dorothy Height (1912-2010)
Dorothy Height was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1912. Growing up, Height attended racially integrated schools, excelling academically. After being turned away from Barnard College after being initially accepted, Height, undeterred, went on to earn a bachelors in education and a masters degree in psychology from New York University.
Gloria Richardson (1922 - )
Richardson was born in Maryland in 1922 to an affluent family. Herbert M. St. Clair, Richardson’s grandfather, owned a funeral parlor, butcher shop and grocery store in the suburb of Cambridge, Maryland. Richardson attended Howard University at the age of 16, graduating in 1942 with a degree in sociology.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Known as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” Rosa Parks is best known for refusing to give up her seat for a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1961. While this incident is key to the history of the civil rights movement, it was far from Parks’ first action against the injustice she faced as a Black woman in the South.
Daisy Bates (1914 -1999)
Daisy Bates experienced a tragedy early in her life that shaped and solidified her adult commitment to civil rights activism. When Bates was just three years old, her mother was killed in an act of racially-motivated violence committed by three white men. As a result, Bates grew up in the foster care system in Huttig, Arkansas.