Black Women Activists


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Diane Nash
She was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. She coordinated and monitored lunch counter sit-ins and freedom rides. She was also one of the organizers who brought MLK, Jr. to Montogomery, Alabama to support the Riders.
Dorothy Height
She was a leader to be reckoned with. President of the National Council for Negro Women for 40 years, shewas a contemporary of Martin Luther King, Jr., even standing on the stage as he gave his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. She was also a staunch feminist, organizing workshops to assist freedom schools and provide for low-income families.
Amelia Boynton
She and her husband, Samuel, sheltered young activists, such as members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She was one of the leaders who convinced MLK, Jr. to come to Selma in the first place.
She was also actually the first African-American woman to run as a Democratic congressional candidate in Alabama. Though she didn't win, she managed to grasp 11% of the vote.
Daisy Bates
She led the first nine African-American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957, after first taking the school to court in 1954 for denying black students, even after the Supreme Court called for an end to segregation. she was also the president of the Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP
Fannie Lou Hamer
The civil rights activist fought for the right to vote, encouraging and recruiting people in her native Mississippi and all throughout the South. At one point, her activism got her arrested and thrown in Montgomery County Jail, where she and her comrades were viciously beaten.
Her true spotlight came at the 1964 convention, where she spoke of her harrowing experiences in Mississippi and chastised leaders for ignoring the way black people were murdered for trying to exercise their rights. "Is this America?" she asked. Her stirring speech was aired on news programs despite push back from President Johnson, sparking big support for the MFDP.
Septima Clark
Once dubbed the "Mother of the Movement" by none other than Martin Luther King, Jr. himself,she was a teacher and leader in the education realm. The South Carolina native began volunteering for the NAACP in 1919, going on to lead civil rights workshops in Tennessee.
She worked with Thurgood Marshall on getting equal pay for black teachers, and even accompanied MLK (who simply insisted) to his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
Mary McLeod Bethune
She was a racial justice activist who sought to improve educational opportunities for African-Americans. She is best known for starting a school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida, that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University. She also served as both president of the National Association of Colored Women and founder of the National Council of Negro Women.
Angela Davis
Born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama, she became a master scholar who studied at the Sorbonne. She joined the U.S. Communist Party and was jailed for charges related to a prison outbreak, though ultimately cleared. Known for books like Women, Race, & Class, she has worked as a professor and activist who advocates gender equity, prison reform and alliances across color lines.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Her life was dedicated to ending horrible injustices against African-Americans. She traveled the country, speaking and writing about civil rights issues, unfair laws, and crimes against blacks. As more and more civil rights laws were ignored by society in the late 1800s, she became increasingly involved in politics to stop the trend of social injustice. She was instrumental in the fight against lynching, proving that these acts were essentially murders of innocent black men, women, and children, and boldly demanded that their white murderers be held responsible for their crimes. Later in life, she also founded or was involved in the creation of several organizations encouraging the advancement of women and other minorities.
Tarika Matilaba
Known as as the first woman who demanded to have space for black women in the Black Panther Party at age 16. During her time at Oakland Tech, she was one of the first students to petition for a black history club and proudly wore her natural hair in an afro. As a Black Panther, she took on many roles, including writing editorials and drawing over 40 political cartoons. Many male Black Panther members respected her, due to her strong presence.

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