We March for Her, Part Three

If you missed Part One, start here.

If you missed Part Two, start here.

 

Dorothy I. Height (1912-2010)

 

Dorothy I. Height was a prominent civil rights and women’s rights activist. Born in 1912 in Virginia, Dorothy was recognized early on for her talents as an orator and activist. In high school she won a national oratory competition and was awarded a college scholarship. She was outspoken socially and politically as a teen, launching an anti-lynching campaign. Dorothy earned a B.Ed in 1930 and a Masters in Psychology in 1932, both from NYU. Dorothy became a social worker with the YWCA in Harlem. Her activism spurred the YWCA to allow for the integration of all their centers nation wide. Dorothy established the Center for Racial Justice, where she continued her work fighting against racial injustice and for women’s equality. In 1963, Dorothy was one of the organizers for the March on Washington and although she stood with Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy was not invited to speak. This event furthered her resolve for the need for women’s rights activism, and in 1971 she help found the National Women’s Political Caucus.  President Obama has called Dorothy “the godmother of the civil rights movement.” We march for her.

 

Read more about Dorothy I. Height here.

 

bell hooks (1952-)

 

bell hooks is an activist, writer and scholar, best known for her work regarding black women and their perception in American society. Born in the deep south in a culture rich in segregation and patriarchy, bell sought to liberate herself from the confines from which she was born. The criticism she faced for being outspoken almost dissuaded her from expressing herself through writing. However, using the name she chose for herself, bell was able to construct a new persona from which she would draw strength and create distance from disapproval and oppression. bell has written and lectured extensively on the plight of the black woman, who in being excluded from the mainstream feminist movement are often forced to choose between honoring their race or their cause, as they seldom intersect. bell earned a PhD in English at the University of California Santa Cruz and has taught and guest lectured at several universities along the west coast. bell’s work emphasizes the need for solidarity among spheres of gender, race and class. Although some criticize her work as “unacademic,” bell counters that by choosing not to adhere to the rigors of traditional scholarship, she is making her work available to all. bell currently sits as a distinguished professor at Berea College. We march for her.

 

Read more about bell hooks and her writings here.

 

Dolores Huerta (1930-)

 

Dolores Huerta is an activist and labor leader, tirelessly advocating for the rights of migrant workers in America. Dolores, a Mexican-American born in New Mexico, was influenced early in life by her father, who was an assemblyman and union activist. Following in his footsteps, Dolores sought to help protect the rights of non-US migrant workers who faced poor working and living conditions and were targets of racism and violence. In 1960, Dolores started the Agricultural Worker’s Association, lobbying politicians for migrant rights. In the 1970’s Dolores’ work paved the way for legislation to pass which allowed for the collective bargaining rights of farmers. Dolores’ activism championed for comprehensive immigration policy and improved health conditions for farmers and migrants. Huerta’s work has earned her the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom and she has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Today, the Dolores Huerta Foundation offers support and training to low-income communities.  Dolores continues her role as an activist and lecturer on social issues including immigration, income disparity, and the rights of women and Latinos. We march for her.

 

Read more about Dolores Huerta here.

 

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)

 

Marsha P. Johnson was a trans woman who became a prominent member of the New York City LGBTQIA community, and who was one of two founding members of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) as well as an active member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Born in 1945 in Elizabeth, NJ as Malcolm Michaels, by the time Marsha moved to Greenwich Village in 1966, she was living her life primarily as Marsha. No stranger to the hardships of homelessness, bigotry and violence plaguing many members of the Trans community in New York at the time, Marsha put herself in the center of the activist movement. STAR sought to keep Transgender people off the streets and to protect them against the violence and intolerance they were often victims of. In 1975 Marsha became a subject for a series of paintings and portraits by Andy Warhol, putting her on public display as an icon of trans femininity. Marsha died in 1992, her body found floating in the Hudson River. The police speculated suicide, but those who knew the violence and vitriol Marsha faced as a public trans figure feared something worse had happened to her. Today, her death remains a mystery. We march for her.

 

Read more about Martha P. Johnson here

 

Barbara Jordan (1936-1996)

 

Barbara Jordan was a lawyer and politician, earning her place in history by becoming the first black female senator in Texas. She went on to be elected to Congress in 1972, again a historical post for a black woman from the deep south. Barbara earned her law degree from Boston University in 1959. Her involvement in the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy helped to launch her career into politics. Barbara favored a political ideology of working within the existing power structures and staying community minded, something that sometimes earned her criticism from civil and women’s rights activists. In 1974 Barbara earned acclaim as a member of the Judiciary Committee with her pointed and insightful questioning of President Nixon during the Watergate investigation. Her impassioned remarks championing the constitution inspired the nation. When Barbara left politics she returned to Texas as a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Barbara Jordan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We march for her.

Read more about Barbara Jordan here.