Don’t you think there should be events to commemorate women who have contributed to the history and contemporary society? Well, Women’s History Month celebrates the contributions that women have made throughout history. Women have created a legacy that expands the frontier of possibilities for generations to come. It is observed during March in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia and during October in Canada. As a part of this effort, let us take a moment to recognize several remarkable women in history.
1. Josephine Baker (Singer, Dancer, Civil Rights Activist):
Josephine Baker was a renowned African-American dancer, activist, and French Resistance agent. Her parents named her Freda Josephine McDonald. She was born on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. Josephine Baker was very well known and earned nicknames like “Black Venus” and “Black Pearl.” Early in her career during the Harlem Renaissance, she performed at the Plantation Club and in the chorus lines of the groundbreaking and hugely successful Broadway revue Shuffle Along in 1921. In 1927, while performing in “La Folie du Jour,” she caught the eyes of the world by dancing in a costume consisting of a skirt made of bananas which was a revolution in the Jazz Age of the 1920’s. Baker was the first African-American to become a worldwide entertainer and to star in a major motion picture, the 1934 Marc Allégret film Zouzou. Baker was also an activist, and she served in the military. Baker supported the
Civil Rights Movements in 1950’s was unwavering, she refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States, she wrote articles about segregation in the United States, and in 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was cast in many films, and she adopted 12 children from different nationalities referred to as “The Rainbow Tribe.” Baker died on April 12, 1975, in France and she was buried with military honors and 21-gun, making Baker the first African-American woman in history to be buried in France with military honors.
2.Florence Mills (Singer, Dancer, and Comedian):
Florence Mills was popularly known as “Queen Of Happiness.” Born on January 25, 1896, in Washington, D.C, and died on November 1, 1927, in New York City. She was African-American singer, dancer, and comedian during the Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance who captivated the world with her talent, beauty, and dedication to racial equality. Mills became well known in New York as a result of her role in the successful Broadway musical Shuffle Along (1921) at Daly’s 63rd Street Theatre, written by African-American Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. In 1924, she headlined at the Palace Theatre, in the hit show, Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds (1926). While in Europe performing Blackbirds for more than 300 performances of the hit show in 1926, she became ill with tuberculosis. Mills is credited with having been a staunch and outspoken supporter of equal rights of African-Americans with her signature song, “I’m A Little Black Bird” as a request for racial equality. During her life, she broke many racial barriers. She was a fascinating, intelligent and socially conscious human being. Mills died on November 1, 1927, in New York City. Three thousand fans attended her funeral in Harlem, and thousands more saw her funeral procession as it moved through the black community.
3.Cora T. Walker (Lawyer)
Cora T. Walker was born on June 20, 1922, in Charlotte, NC. Walker was a dedicated lawyer and community activist, and she was the first African-American woman to practice law in the state of New York. She later became the first female president of the Harlem Lawyers Association. In the early stages of her career, Walker found it challenging to get a position at a law firm. She established Walker & Bailey, one of the city’s few black law firms, with her son, Lawrence R. Bailey, Jr. The firm’s practice eventually included corporate clients like Conrail, the Ford Motor Company, Texas Instruments and Kentucky Fried Chicken. This allowed her to work for the residents of the Harlem community for more than half a century. She was active in the National Bar Association which was a professional organization for African-American lawyers formed in the 1920’s. She was also honored when she was listed in New York Times as one of the most powerful people in Harlem. She ran her private practice in Harlem from 1976 until her retirement in 1999.
These three phenomenal women broke the barriers of racism and continue to be inspirations to today’s society. These fearless and unbowed women are one of the many reasons to celebrate Women’s History Month which also helps to spread awareness regarding the significant contributions of women.