Nevertheless, black women persisted
Two things happened this month that perfectly collided for the making of this story. First, Vice President Mike Pence kicked off Black History Month by praising a white man, and then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell silenced a woman reading a letter about racism.
McConnell silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren during Jeff Sessions’ attorney general hearing, saying she had “impugned the motives of our colleague.” She had been reading a letter Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986 objecting to a different appointment of Sessions, arguing he had a history of racial discrimination.
Commenting on Warren’s reading, McConnell said, “she was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
In honor of Black History Month and the power of women, here are nine black women who, despite everything, persisted.
I’m assuming we all know who Rosa Parks was, but I’d be remiss not to include her. She was ordered to give up her seat for a white person (she was warned) but refused (she persisted). Her actions sparked the influential Montgomery bus boycott.
The famed abolitionist, who escaped slavery only to go back into slave-owning territory 19 times to save 300 more slaves, is about as persistent as you can get.
Cox experienced excessive bullying in her childhood for not acting the way a boy was expected to. Since then, she has become an vocal trans rights activist and a successful actress. She is also the first transgender person to be on the cover of Time.
Marsha P. Johnson
However, Cox is by no means the first black trans person in the public eye (while Marsha would fluctuate on gender identity, she often used she/her pronouns, particularly when working in drag). Martha was a leader at the standoff that culminated in the Stonewall Riots, and was a prominent advocate for trans and gay rights. She was also an AIDS activist and worked to provide housing for homeless LGBT youth.
In 1968, Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress, and represented New York’s 12th district for seven terms. In her first election, her victory was a major upset, and she won by an almost two-to-one margin. In 1971, she was a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Sharon Pratt Kelly
Kelly was the first African-American female mayor of a major U.S. city, and that city happens to be our very own Washington, D.C.
Nadja Y. West
West holds three “first” titles: she is the first black Army Surgeon General, the first black female to be an active duty major general and the first black female major general in Army Medicine. Even better, she earned her Doctorate of Medicine at GW.
And the list goes on. These are just a few black women in America who we can say “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Originally published at gw.therival.news by Emily Milakovic on 2.23.17.
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