Throughout the chaos and uncertainty of the past weeks, with the coronavirus pandemic and the last of the female candidates exiting the 202 democratic presidential field, Women’s History Month has been overshadowed by worldwide fear and social upheaval. Despite all of this there has “arguably never been a more significant time to consider how women’s history informs the present.” In the spirit of this, prominent women have recognized the historical women who have come before them, trailblazing the future of women’s rights and suffrage in a testament to the idea of “women empowering women.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee recognized Shirley Chisholm, having spent years working on Chisholm’s campaign and celebrating her as the first African American woman elected to Congress. Lee was inspired by Chisholm’s activism; the way she spoke up for children and families in need, spoke out against racism, xenophobia, and sexism. Lee admired how Chisholm broke barriers in everything she did, especially in her advocacy for African American women.
Jane Goodall explained the inspiration she felt reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” inspired by Carson’s courage in fighting against pharmaceutical companies, and emphasizing the dangers of DDT. Goodall thought of Carson often throughout her experience studying chimpanzees, as she became aware of other scientists holding chimps in inhumane cages. Goodall held up Carson’s silent battle with cancer as an indicator of her strength.
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, held up both Harriet Tubman and Angela Davis as two women in whose stories she found inspiration for her own life. Cullors learned every detail possible about Tubman’s life, from enslavement to freedom, and the way she continued helping so many others to freedom as well. She found Tubman’s bravery something she could lean on during struggles within her own life and community.
In Angela Davis, Cullors found a mentor, one who spoke out about the current injustices related to the prison system and police brutality and how this must be the new “frontier” towards ending slavery. Cullors has used Davis’s modern abolitionist work as the framework she will continue to follow in all that she does, and in her fight for justice and accountability.
The full story is available on CNN’s website.
Sources: CNN 03/27/2020; National Women’s History Museum 2020