Women's History Month "20 Seminal Moments from American Women’s History" on WorldCat.org
2023 marks a number of milestones within feminist history, including the 175th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the 160th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s Combahee Ferry Raid, and the 50th anniversary of Roe. v. Wade. Women's history is an essential part of the American historical narrative. Our stories and experiences, from every racial and ethnic community, have helped shape America’s national identity. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and think deeply about the 2023 theme: Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories, the National Women’s Studies Association and the Karson Institute for Race, Peace, & Social Justice selected 20 seminal moments in women’s history to highlight. "Although there are so many moments and women that could have been selected,” said Karsonya Wise Whitehead, “we chose to spotlight and amplify the names and stories of women, from all different races and ethnicities, who personally inspire us, challenge us, and motivate us."
Our list of resources are available here at WorldCat.org
1781: Brom and Bett v. Ashley
In 1781, Elizabeth Freeman (aka Bet, Mum Bett, or MumBet), an enslaved woman, was the first Black person to file and win a freedom suit in the state of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling found that slavery was inconsistent with the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution.
1848: The Declaration of Rights and Sentiments
On July 18-20, 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention (which many regard as the “birthplace” of white feminism), activist and leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted The Declaration of Sentiments, which called for women’s equality and suffrage. It was signed by 68 women and 32 men—100 out of some 300 attendees at the first women's rights convention that was organized by women.
1851: Ain’t I a Woman?
On May 29, 1851, Sojourner Truth (Isabella Bumfree)–a formerly enslaved woman, activist, and itinerant preacher–delivered her “Ain’t I a woman?” speech at the National Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. (It is important to note that there are different versions of the speech with the most popular version first published in 1863 by Frances Gage.)
1863: The Combahee Ferry Raid
On June 2, 1863, Harriet Tubman became the first woman to lead a major military operation in the United States when she led the Combahee Ferry Raid that helped to liberate 700 enslaved people.
1871: The First Black Woman to Register to Vote
In 1871, Mary Ann Shadd Carey, the first African American woman to publish and edit a newspaper in North America and the second black woman to attend law school in the US, successfully registered to vote after arguing that the 14th Amendment provided Black women with the eligibility to vote. She was the first Black woman to vote in a national election.
1876: The Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States
On July 4, 1876, the National Woman Suffrage Association circulated the "Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States," written by Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for the centennial of the U. S. Declaration of Independence.
1911: The League of Mexican Women founded
In October 1911, Jovita Idar—a renowned community activist, journalist, and daughter of La Crónica’s owners—founded the League of Mexican Women and served as the League’s first president.
1919: Ratification of the 19th Amendment
First introduced to Congress in 1878, it finally passed on June 4, 1919, and was ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution legally guaranteed the right to vote for American women. The Amendment makes it illegal to deny the right to vote to any citizen based on their sex.
1923: The Equal Rights Amendment
In December 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, was first introduced in Congress.
*Only 25 states have adopted constitutions or constitutional amendments providing that equal rights under the law shall not be denied because of sex.
1948: The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act
On June 12, 1948, Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which entitled women to veteran benefits and granted them permanent, regular, and reserve status in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
1960: First Commercially Produced Birth Control Pill
On May 9, 1960, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the world’s first commercially produced birth control pill, providing women with agency over their reproductive rights.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963
On June 10, 1963, the Equal Pay Act, which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to "prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers,” was signed into law.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
On August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act, designed to overcome state and local legal barriers preventing African Americans from exercising their right to vote, was signed into law.
1970: The Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional Established
In October 1970, the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional (National Mexican Women's Commission, CFMN) was established to economically and politically empower Chicana women in the U.S.
1972: Title IX Signed Into Law
On June 23, 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments, which prohibited sex-based discrimination in any educational environment that receives federal funding, was signed into law.
1973: Roe v. Wade Decision
On January 22, 1973, in a landmark 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade decision protected a woman’s legal right to choose to have an abortion. SCOTUS held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental "right to privacy.” The decision struck down multiple federal and state abortion laws.
1974: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act
On October 28, 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that prohibited lending discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract), or because one receives public assistance.
1994: The Violence Against Women Act
On September 13, 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law. This Act provided federal funding to support programs to assist victims survivors of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking, and other gender-related violence.
2022: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Decision
On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, voted to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision giving states the power to ban abortions (abortions are now illegal in at least 24 states).
Book: My Mothers Tomorrow by Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead
my mother’s tongue: (dis)patches from baltimore’s black butterfly
In 2017, Dr. Kaye, a local award-winning radio host, began a three-year in-depth ethnographic study within Baltimore’s Black Butterfly neighborhoods that were originally published in a monthly column in the Afro newspaper. She used to ride the bus through the communities to find ways to deeply engage with the residents. She spent time talking and listening to them and documenting and recording their stories. In “you tell them that we’re not invisible, you tell them that we matter,” she met a woman from the Poe Homes community who was filling her pots and pans, after the community had gone four days without running water. The woman looked at Dr. Kaye and said, "The Mayor, our Councilman, they don't see us. Baltimore City is a big place, so I think they just forgot about us. Is there any way that you can make us unforgotten?" This book is for her. It is also for the veterans that Dr. Kaye met and profiled in her “baltimore is my beirut,” column who said, “You commit your life to fight for this country, then you come back home and where you live is worse than where you were fighting. It’s like the war never ended.” It is also for the ninth grader student who told Dr. Kaye in “i’m from baltimore, i’m already dead,” when she asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, “My father is dead. My brother is dead. I had two cousins, they got shot. My uncles are locked up. What do I want to be when I grow up? Nothing. I’m from Baltimore, I’m already dead.” It also for her parents who grew up in Jim Crow South Carolina and chose every day to survive and then when they raised her, taught her how to thrive.
This is both a love letter to Baltimore, a way of reminding them that even if the world does not see them, Dr. Kaye did, and she does; and a love letter to her sons, a way of reminding them that even though they were born with wings, Baltimore taught them how to fly.
Black History Bulletin 2022
Within the Karson Institute, Dr. Karsonya "Kaye" Wise Whitehead, María Colompos-Tohtsonie, MPPA, & Dr. Walter Greason [guest co-edited] the Black History Bulletin (BHB) Volume 85, Number 1. The theme for this issue is, “Historical Trauma: Past Pains, Future Promise."
In 1937, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, at the urging of Mary McLeod Bethune, founded The Black History Bulletin (née The Negro History Bulletin) aimed at providing teachers, students, and the general reader with a foundation in Black history. Since then, the BHB has become one of the academic lighthouses publishing articles and lesson plans that are designed to provide truth, historical knowledge, and insight into many of the critical issues facing the African American community.
Readings and Lesson Plans:
About the BHB
The Black History Bulletin (BHB) is one of the oldest journals of Black History. The BHB is dedicated to enhancing teaching and learning in the areas of history. Its aim is to publish, generate, and disseminate peer-reviewed information about African Americans in U.S. history, the African Diaspora generally, and the peoples of Africa. Its purpose is to inform the knowledge base for the professional praxis of educators and scholars through articles that are grounded in theory yet supported by practice.
The Black History Bulletin 85th Anniversary Digital Cover