Women in History to be Thankful For
by Sarah Vice, intern for GirlSpring
I am thankful for women’s rights and for the women who stood up and spoke out in favor of those rights. You always hear people saying to give thanks for the veterans that defend our freedom, which I am thankful. I am eternally grateful to all people who stand up and fight for me. But this does not stop at war veterans. This includes the women in history and today who put their lives or livelihoods at risk just so that we can have equal rights.
I wouldn’t be able to write this post if it were not for a long list of women who fought for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, women’s rights, and a strong sense of leadership. Some honorable mentions are below.
Susan B. Anthony
Some of these names might be familiar to you. That’s good. We can start with the earliest member of the list, Susan B. Anthony. Recently, the midterm elections led a flock of people to leave their “voting” stickers on her memorial stone.
By the age of 17, Anthony was already involved with pushing anti-slavery petitions. She was young, but she knew what was right versus what was wrong. In 1863, she had nearly 400,000 people sign a petition to abolish slavery. In 1866, Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton created the American Equal Rights Association, which boasted freedom for both women and people of color. At the age of 46, Anthony began a newspaper in support of women’s rights.
In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting. Can you imagine the bravery it would take to risk remaining in jail the rest of your days so that you could have a single vote in an election? But that’s not all it was. It was not just a single vote. It was a vote for womankind and the demand for the right to have a voice. Because of her bravery, I received the right to vote from the legal age of 18. This is one reason why I vote. Because it was not a given, it was a battle to have that right.
The next woman on the list that I am thankful for is Harriet Tubman. This woman was abused from a young age. She legally belonged to someone. If that sentence doesn’t break your heart and enrage you, then you do not deserve her bravery. Tubman broke free of her chains, and instead of moving on with her newfound freedom, she chose to keep coming back for those she loved and eventually other slaves. She didn’t find the time to pity herself. She was so busy saving as many people as she could through the Underground Railroad.
Once the Civil War began, Tubman served as a spy for the United States Army. In doing so, I am sure countless lives were spared and brought free from their bonds. Her courage goes on into fighting for women’s rights. In response to the question of why women should be given the right to vote, Tubman exclaimed that her suffering gave her the right to it. She continued her life in support of women’s activist groups and the suffragist movement.
The list continues to pattern women of strength and courage. Clara Barton was none too shy of showing the world what women are capable of. She brought the American Red Cross to America in 1864. After years of military nursing experience, it was time for Clara to begin heading a major organization that would later become the largest disaster relief in Northern America. Even now, the name is probably familiar with recent catastrophes or blood drives.
Though Barton’s take on the American Red Cross was dismissed by the belief that her humanitarian efforts would drag the organization down—by a male-dominated board—she resumed trying to memorialize the brave women from the war. She would later create a new foundation that would aid in local relief. It was called the National First Aid Society.
These three women are part of a long list of independent thinkers who found a way to give us a better present and future. The list will continue to grow as young girls like yourselves are inspired by the work of others. If something seems hard now, just consider what the reward will be for those who come after you. Be selfless and selfish all the same.
So this holiday, as you are passing the turkey around and drooling over that sweet potato pie, remember to give thanks to those who have made improvements in your life and the lives of others.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!