The human society has been understood to be patriarchal in terms of giving credit in various fields, among them the Civil Rights Movement, with ample illustrations of this male crediting drawn from such historical figures as Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. However, a number of outstanding women share this gracious credit afforded their male counterparts in the history of the black race, as their contributions in the Civil Rights movement have duly been noted and credited. This article extensively discusses the contributions of the most outstanding black women in an attempt to better the conditions of blacks among the predominantly white society, as they underwent the hardest of circumstances.
The first woman to be put on the spotlight is Hattie McDaniel. She rose to fame after clinching an Oscar’s award, under the Best Supporting Actress category, in the year 1940. Acting as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, a role that has received criticism as looking down the Black race, a more keen analysis of her contribution in the realization of the production gives little importance to the dignity she ascribes to her responsibilities as an actor. The acceptance speech she gave confirmed her potentiality, despite the racist nature of the star actors of Hollywood, the directors, producers and executives.
Fannie Lou Hamer was another such lady, recognized through her endless efforts in the era of the Civil Right Movement. She characteristic of charged speeches that she delivered during the civil rights conferences, and was noted as being devoted to her course. She was behind the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, in which she aimed at sensitizing the need to allow and validate the say of black voters in the ballot through registration. Racism was on its peak at that time, and the whites would render the Black race powerless by heightening the risks of voter registration with regard to the Blacks, in which case racial discrimination would entail elimination of the Blacks though murder. With such contribution in empowering the Black race, Hamer is remembered for her famous words of self-appreciation, which echo her courage in facing the whites, without fear of being silenced by death.
The next woman whose contribution to the Civil Right Movement has been noted is Ida B. Wells, who dates back to the late 1800s, a period which saw Blacks as slaves to their White masters. Ida was both a journalist and an activist for the Civil Rights. Her contribution is seen in her tireless efforts in the documentation of the South execution of Blacks and in-depth research work on the harsh and violent techniques employed by the Whites as an act of segregation to the Blacks, with intent to silence and rule over the Blacks. Born before the provision of liberty to Blacks by Abraham Lincoln, Wells grew into a vocal and fearless lady despite the acts of execution during those days. Her stand for her belief saw her dismiss a command to offer her seat during a train ride to a white, which saw her being literally ejected from the train, and later filed a case against the train company and won the case. Wells therefore was outspokenly against White segregation of Blacks.
Sojourner Truth, just like Ida B. Wells, was famous for defending her rights in a court of law. She was against slavery of the Blacks and fought for the rights of Women. She and her infant son slid past the cruel hand of slavery at the age of 20s. After being compelled to leave behind her other children, a son of hers was forcefully sold out as a slave to a master residing in Alabama. However, Sojourner Truth tried the Alabama master in a court of law, won the trial and was given her child back, and has been remembered among the few early Blacks to sue Whites and win in courts of law. She is also echoed for her activist work of sensitizing people against slavery of the Blacks, as seen in her popular speech ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’
The fifth Black Lady noted herein is Vivian Malone, who managed to enroll to the Alabama University, against George Wallace’s vows of never admitting Black students to the institution that was seen as a whites’ university. In addition to enrolling in the institution as the second Black on record in the university, Malone did graduate from the institution and later secured a job and retired as a renowned director of civil rights and urban affairs. Most notably, the very University of Alabama honored Malone with a doctorate degree of humane letters in the year 2000. Vivian Malone did beat all odds to become an outstanding Black woman among White segregationists as George Wallace.
Harriet Tubman is famous for her anti-slavery deeds which saw her lead close to 70 slaves passing via the Underground Railroad, in an attempt to free them to the Northern part that had freedom from slavery. Though she had escaped slavery at 29, Tubman was compelled to make numerous trips in order to salvage her family members. She further led a number of slaves to a slavery-free Canada with the enactment of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. She proudly tells of her adventures with slaves in the Underground Railroad, where she compares herself to a conductor, only difference being that she never lost a single passenger in her troops!
Elizabeth Eckford was among the nine students in high school who initiated the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, the year 1957 in Arkansas, thus the name Little Rock Nine. A day of disorder saw the white students who had inner cultivated racism put the teen students under aggressive experiences, turning the school experience of their colleagues into a terrible scene. However, Eckford overcame such torture by withstanding all the pressures exerted on her, and proved indeed hard to crack as a rock.
Mary McLeod Bethune left a legacy by founding a university that enjoys national stature and prestige. The Bethune Cookman University has its history as a school that offered instruction in reading skills and basic math. The school advanced to obtain college status over time, and now the institution has achieved university status, with a fully developed sports program and a full-fledged graduate school.
Oprah Winfrey is the last iconic Black woman, who has gone to the books of record for hosting the most popular television show with the largest white female viewers. Oprah has had to put up with weight issues that are not spoken of among the most successful female television show hosts. Her success has been attributed to her self-belief, unlike most successful anchors, business persons or authors. Among her many financial accomplishments is her collection of beautiful residences, such as her penthouse in Chicago and a lovely home in Longshore Lake in Naples, Florida.