Submitted to the AFRO Kevin Daniels
As we observe and celebrate around the country what has been deemed Women’s History Month, the progress of this country would have been completely halted without the productivity and achievements of great women, and more specifically, in this context, Black women. It is unapologetically true that both historically and intergenerationally Black women have made strides throughout this country – early Elders paved the way for progress such as: Anna Julia Cooper, Septima Clark, Daisy Bates, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks, Dorothy Heights, Marian Anderson, Marian Wright Edelman, Cicely Tyson, and Maya Angelou, along with a host of many others; including contemporary leaders and activist such as: Mae Jamison, Beverly Bond, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Melina Abdullah, Jasmyne Cannick, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi (to name a few).
However, and more specifically, much deference and historical homage must be paid to Black Women in Baltimore City, in that according to Baltimore’s Civil Rights Heritage, during the early 19th century, after the Civil War, Baltimore was a refuge for free and enslaved Black people. The city was a place where Black people could seek freedom from slavery and self-determination in a Chesapeake region dominated by oppressive white supremacy, and that was due, in no small part, to the vigilant mobilization and organizing of Black women. Historically, they were seen as “hidden figures,” but they played a major role in working along side central Black male figures such as Harry Johnson (Brotherhood of Liberty), Dr. Garnett Waller (Niagara Movement), WEB Dubois (Dubois Literary Circle), and the Faith-based/civic activism of the Goon Squad to ensure access to Constitutional freedoms and collective self-determination.
Moreover, there were central historical Black women elders that led organizations in Baltimore such as: Harriet Tubman (Underground Railroad), Roberta Sheridan and Victoria Adams (educator/activist Baltimore City Schools), National Resurgence of Antebellum Lyceum Movement (literary Society), CYWCA, Colored Fresh Air and Empty Stocking Circle (Ida R. Cummings), Federation of Colored Women of Baltimore and State of Maryland, Colored Women’s Suffrage Club (Mrs. Howard E. Young), Women’s Cooperation Civic League, Lilllie Mae Jackson and Juanita Jackson Mitchell (Civil Rights Activist), and Enolia P. Mc Millan (First female National President of the NAACP and moved Headquarters to Baltimore City), along with a host of many others; including contemporary leaders and activist such as: Dr. Frances Murphy Draper (CEO/ Afro Newspaper), Mayor Catherine Pugh (former Mayors Sheila Dixon and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake), Baltimore City States Attorney Marilyn Mosby (former City States Attorney Patricia Jessamy), Stephanie Ybarra (Center Stage), Brittany Oliver (Not without Black Women), April Ryan (White House Correspondent), Erricka Bridge Ford (Ceasefire), Nadira Smith and Ashless Johnson (LBS).
To that end, it is clear as we celebrate National Women’s Month that history would not be complete and less replete without the tenacity and courage of Black Women throughout the country but most importantly in Baltimore City. Many more have been unsung, but their achievements and productivity to the efficacy and progress of Baltimore City and the country can no longer be deemed as “hidden figures.” They are clearly seen, and their impact in every facet and venue is felt throughout federal, state, corporate, and local municipalities.
Subsequently, the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Black men could not have done this level of uplift and progress for civil and human rights alone and without your brilliance.
“Black Women take a bow this month and every month because in the iconic words of our dear sister Beverly Bond, “Black Girls ROCK.” Indeed!
Dr. Kevin Daniels is the Chair of the Civic Action Committee (Minister’s Conference Baltimore/Vicinity); Associate Professor, Morgan State University (Social Work) and pastor, St. Martin Church in Baltimore.
The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
Send letters to The Afro-American • 1531 S. Edgewood St. Baltimore, MD 21227 or fax to 1-877-570-9297 or e-mail to [email protected]