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Women’s History Series #3 – Key Figures

Employees - AMS FulfillmentIn this third and final Women’s History blog, we are going to focus on three women who were Key in the struggle for equality – Ida B. Wells, Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. These three names are likely familiar to readers. Our examples will hopefully represent the many heroic women warriors for equality. We wish we could feature them all.

Before we begin covering these three heroic women, we would like to uplift the names of Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Joslyn Gage, Jane Addams, Abby Kelly Foster and more. We encourage readers to learn about these women and the dedicated lives they lived as well as many others at this National Park Service page dedicated to Women’s History [LINK].

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was born enslaved in 1862 in Mississippi. She was able to obtain an education and put it to use first as a schoolteacher and then as a journalist, reporting on lynching and traveling the country to speak on the subject. It is Ida B. Wells who brought attention to the horrors of lynching, and she is on our list of key figures for that reason. At the Monmouth University website [LINK], we read about some of the leadership posts she held:

“Wells was among the founders of the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women and was a leader in several women’s suffrage organizations including the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, which she founded in 1913. She also founded the Alpha Suffrage Record newspaper.

“Later in 1913, the Alpha Suffrage Club marched in the seminal Women’s Suffrage Procession in Washington D.C.; membership voiced its disapproval of march leaders’ placement of Black marchers at the rear of the parade as a concession to southern suffragists, and many either did not march or joined the parade elsewhere. Wells disregarded instructions altogether, taking her rightful place in the front of the parade between other movement leaders.”

Ida B. Wells is a major figure in the history of Women’s Suffrage as well as the struggle for equality for Black Americans. Although she was a founder in various organizations and member of others, she did not often achieve leadership positions. Nevertheless, she stands as a major figure in the activism of her time. Read more about Ida B. Wells here [LINK].

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem was born in 1934 in Ohio. After high school she attended Smith College where she studied government. She graduated magna cum laude in 1956 and earned the Chester Bowles Fellowship, which enabled her to spend two years studying and researching in India. At the Women’s History website we read the following [LINK]:

“Steinem started her professional career as a journalist in New York, writing freelance pieces for various publications. Getting plumb assignments was tough for women in the late 1950s and 1960s, when men ran the newsrooms and women were largely relegated to secretarial and behind-the-scenes research roles. Steinem’s early articles tended to be for what was then called “the women’s pages,” lifestyle or service features about such female-centered or fashion topics as nylon stockings. Steinem once recalled that, “When I suggested political stories to The New York Times Sunday Magazine, my editor just said something like, ‘I don’t think of you that way.’”

The article continued as follows: “She worked hard to make a name for herself, and in 1968, she helped found New York magazine, where she became an editor and political writer. At New York magazine, Steinem reported on political campaigns and progressive social issues, including the women’s liberation movement.”

Steinem lived a life dedicated to the advancement of the women’s movement and to the cause of women’s rights. Steinem co-founded a number of women’s organizations, and she was a writer of several books that had an impact on the time.

“An award-winning and prolific writer, Steinem has authored several books, including a biography on Marilyn Monroe, and the best-selling My Life on the Road. Her work has also been published and reprinted in numerous anthologies and textbooks. In 2013, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. In her honor, in 2017, Rutgers University created The Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies.”

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan is well known as a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She was born in 1921 in Peoria, Illinois. She attended Smith College and the University of California. From the website Freedom Forum we read the following [LINK]:

“Friedan is sometimes called the mother of the modern women’s rights movement. After spending time as a reporter and homemaker, she researched middle class women in the home and wrote the 1963 book “The Feminine Mystique.” The book spurred conversation about the role of women at home and at work. She exercised the freedoms of assembly and petition to help create groups like the National Organization for Women and advocate for gender equality in the workplace.

“Friedan helped organize the Women’s Strike for Equality to protest discrimination on Aug. 26, 1970, the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s certification, ensuring women’s right to vote.”

There is a great deal more to Betty Friedan’s impact on the women’s movement. In addition to co-founding and acting as President of NOW and organizing the Women’s Strike for Equality, she authored the book credited with actually sparking the ‘second wave of feminism’.

We will conclude with a quote from Wikipedia as follows: “Regarded as an influential author and intellectual in the United States, Friedan remained active in politics and advocacy until the late 1990s, authoring six books. As early as the 1960s Friedan was critical of polarized and extreme factions of feminism that attacked groups such as men and homemakers. One of her later books, The Second Stage (1981), critiqued what Friedan saw as the extremist excesses of some feminists.”

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Well, there we have it. We hope that readers have enjoyed our efforts to explore women’s history during the month of March. We are grateful for the dedicated efforts of so many women on behalf of the women of today. We are grateful for the progress that women have made and grateful for the businesses, such as AMS, that are wise enough to put truly competent women in leadership positions within the organization.

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AMS Fulfillment is a Certified B Corporation, dedicated to People and Planet before Profit. We work to B the Change we wish to see in the world.




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