Beyond Rosa: 5 (Other) Black Women You & Your Kids Should Know
March is Women’s History month, and that means we take some time to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of women. While many people have heard of great women like Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Many McLeod Bethune, Angela Davis and so many others, there are many more sheroes throughout history whose names have sadly been forgotten.
Today, we’re celebrating 5 Black women who made history and changed our lives for the better.
Lucy Stanton Day Sessions
Lucy Stanton Day Sessions was born on October 16, 1831 and is believed to be the first African American woman to graduate from college. Known mostly as Lucy Stanton, she was an abolitionist, feminist and educator who fought tirelessly for women’s and African American’s rights. Stanton received a Literary degree from Oberlin College’s “Ladies’ Literary Course” in 1850. An impassioned abolitionist, Stanton gave a speech called, “A Plea for the Oppressed” at her graduation and traveled throughout the South teaching newly freed slaves. Stanton spent her life fighting for those who could not speak for themselves. She died in 1910 in Los Angeles.
Crystal Bird Fauset
Born in 1893, Crystal Bird Fauset was the first Black woman elected to a state legislature in 1938. Her political life and activism opened the door for powerful women like Maxine Waters, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, and Carol Moseley Braun. Fauset worked as a public school teacher in Philadelphia before getting into politics. She spent her life advocating for African Americans, Black women, and girls and became close allies with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1938, Fauset was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, representing the 18th District of Philadelphia, which was majority white at the time.
Biddy Mason began life as an enslaved woman, but ended up as one of the wealthiest women and business owners in Los Angeles before her death in 1891. Born in 1818 in Georgia, Mason moved across the country with her master before suing for her freedom in 1856. She won her case and headed to Los Angeles where she worked as a nurse and midwife. After saving her money, Mason bought a piece of land downtown for $250, making her the first Black landowner in the city. In addition to being a businesswoman, Mason was a generous philanthropist. She was also a founding member of Los Angeles’ first Black church, First African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Violette Neatley Anderson
A lawyer and former legal reporter, Violette Neatley Anderson became the first Black woman attorney admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court in 1926. Anderson was a courtroom reporter for 15 years before enrolling in Chicago Law School and becoming an attorney. Anderson became one of the first women in Illinois to open her own law firm, successfully defending women accused of crimes. During her career, Anderson served as the vice-president of the Cook County Bar Association, and the eight president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Born a slave, Callie House fought tirelessly to win reparations for former slaves. With the help of fellow abolitionist Isaiah Dickerson House chartered the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension in 1898. As the organization’s leader, House traveled throughout the South hoping to drum up support for reparations. Under her leadership the organization grew from 34,000 to more than 300,000 people. Although House’s dream of reparations was never realized, her hopes live on.
Who are your favorite unsung women in history? Share their story in the comments section below!