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We are all feeling a little emotionally drained and defeated right now. The day we couldn't fathom really happening came and went yesterday, and we are left reeling with the aftermath. There have been immediate changes and executive orders; and, well, it can feel frightening. Daily Grab Back is going to harness all of the strength of these 27 amazing individuals and seek solace in the fact that we know we aren’t doing this alone. We not only have these women to look to, but we also have all of you. You are there with us every single day, Grabbing Back, and we will not back down. It’s not over and you're not alone.
Barbara Smith is an author, LGBT activist, feminist, and book publisher for women of color. Barbara was born on December 14, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, and shares that birthday with her twin sister, Beverly. Their mother was the first in their family to receive a college education and expected the girls to do the same. She died when the twins were nine, and the girls were raised by their aunt and grandmother, who continued to press the importance of education. Barbara received her BA from Mount Holyoke College and her MA from the University of Pittsburgh. Smith co-founded the Combahee River Collective in Boston, and co-authored the Combahee River Collective Statement in 1977 with her twin sister, which was one of the very first examinations into intersectionality and different types of oppressions including racism and heterosexism. It marked the beginning of black women being unapologetic about their sexual orientations and how this related to their social justice work. In 1980, Smith and colleagues founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the very first US publisher for books by women of color. In 1994 Barbara received the Stonewall award for Service to the Gay and Lesbian Community and in 2005 she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. We march for her.
For more information on her life, click here.
Gloria Steinem is a feminist organizer, writer, and political activist. Gloria was born on March 25, 1934 in Toledo, Ohio. She attended High School in Toledo and then Washington DC, where she graduated. She then went on to graduate from Smith College in 1956, and after that spent two years in India as a Chester Bowles Asian Fellow. When she returned she was hired by Warren Publishing as the first employee of Help! Magazine. Gloria would go on to start her own feminist magazine, Ms., with Dorothy Pitman Hughes in 1972 - which was also the year she became the first female to speak at the National Press Club. Gloria has authored many books including “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellion” and “My Life on the Road.” In 1993, Gloria’s concern for child abuse led her to co-produce and narrate a TV documentary called “Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories,” which would go on to win an Emmy. Gloria has been a spokeswoman on all issues of equality including race caste systems, child abuse, and gender roles, and she continues to break boundaries to work on social justice and peace. We march for her.
For more on her life and a complete list of her works, click here.
Hannah G. Solomon
Hannah was born into a large Jewish family of ten children in Chicago, 1858. When Hannah was a child, her parents set the tone for civic engagement, with her mother forming the Jewish Ladies Sewing Society and her father founding the Zion Literary Society. In 1876, Hannah and her sister joined the elite Chicago Women’s Club as the first Jewish women. She married at the age of 21 and went on to have three children with Henry Solomon. In her mid-thirties, she began the work to form the National Council of Jewish Women, with the support of her husband. Then in 1894, the NCJW joined forces with the National Council of Women to work together towards social change. These combined organizations would help set the foundation for the early social welfare system in Chicago. Hannah also worked on instituting Chicago’s first juvenile court system, and worked to improve laws regarding the city's children. Her legacy has had a profound effect on our welfare system, as well as how we now care for Wards of the State. We march for her.
To read more about her life, click here.
Harriet Tubman has been referred to as the “Moses of her People.” Harriet was born into slavery between 1820 and 1822 in Maryland. She was named Araminta Ross and her parents were Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross. When Harriet was 12, she intervened while a fellow slave was being beaten after attempting escape and suffered a blow to her head that left her with severe headaches and narcolepsy. Slaves weren’t allowed to marry, but Harriet married a free black man named John Tubman in 1844 and renamed herself Harriet. In 1849, Harriet and her two brothers escaped slavery and went north, using the already existing Underground Railroad. Her husband refused to join her and remarried. Harriet returned to the south at least a dozen times, bringing at least 80 “passengers” on the Underground Railroad to a new life of freedom up north. There was a $40,000 reward for her capture or death put out by slaveowners, but she was never caught and she never lost a passenger. After the war was over, she joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the fight for women’s suffrage. Harriet risked her life over and over to give others a taste of freedom. We march for her.
For more on her life, click here.
Edith Windsor is an LGBTQ activist and a pioneer in operating systems. Edith was born June 29, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Edith’s family was hit hard by the Great Depression when her father lost his candy and ice cream store, as well as their home above it. Edith also experienced anti-semitism at school during that time. Windsor attended Temple University and became engaged to Saul Windsor. They broke off their relationship when Edith fell in love with a female classmate, but ended up getting married, only to result in a divorce a year later when Edith confided that she wanted to be with women. Edith received her Masters in Mathematics from NYU in 1957, afterwhich she began her 16 year career with IBM, where she attained the highest tech position at the company; Senior Systems Programmer. She met Thea Spyer in 1963 and they began dating in 1965. Spyer proposed in 1967 with a circular diamond pin, so as to not give Edith’s sexuality away to her coworkers, and this would lead to what is now referred to as “the very long engagement.” Edith and Spyer fought every step of the way for their right to marry, dealing with difficult health issues along their journey. They entered into a domestic partnership in 1993, when it was first recognized by the state of New York. In 2002 Spyer suffered a heart attack and by 2007, her doctors told her she had less than a year to live. Edith and Spyer went to Canada, where same-sex marriage was legal, and ended their very long engagement in Toronto on May 22, 2007. Spyer passed away two years later and when Edith was denied the right to claim a federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses on Spyers estate, she filed a lawsuit against the federal government that resulted in Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) being found unconstitutional and was issued a tax refund. Edith has been a trailblazer, not only in the tech world, but also for LGBTQ rights. We march for her.
For more information on her life and what she is working on, click here.
Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. When Malala was a young child, she loved to learn and would often toddle into her father’s classroom as he taught. When Malala turned ten, the Taliban took over the valley she lived in and forbade girls from attending school, or doing cultural activities like dancing or watching tv. Suicide bombings were prevalent and the push to suppress girls was at the forefront; by the end of 2008 over 400 schools had been destroyed. In early 2009, Malala started an anonymous blog speaking out against the Taliban and her desires to go to school, and by May she had been forced to evacuate her home and seek safety hundreds of miles away. When she returned a few weeks later to the Swat Valley, she resumed her blogging and began to gain recognition. In 2011, she had been nominated for the Children’s Peace Prize and had received Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize, but unfortunately not everyone loved her message and she was shot in 2012 at the age of 15. Malala was shot three times on her school bus by a member of the Taliban. She ended up in Birmingham, England to receive the best care. She would require multiple surgeries, but despite being shot in the head, she suffered no major brain damage, and after weeks of treatment and therapy, she began attending school in Birmingham. In 2013, she wrote an autobiography “I am Malala; The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban.” She has since started the Malala Fund with her father and works to empower girls and encourage them to be leaders in their countries. Malala fights for education for all girls and believes that they can be an advocate for change in their communities. We march for her.
To learn more about Malala, click here.
We march for them. We march for you. We march for us.