The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro announced the next series of videos of Black Women’s History programs, which were released daily at midnight beginning March 26, 2023; the series is free to watch at YouTube.com/@AbolitionHallofFame.
Sunday, March 26: Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Maya Angelou was an American poet, author and civil rights activist whose work had a profound impact on American culture and society.
Born in Missouri, Angelou experienced racial discrimination and trauma throughout her childhood and adolescence. Despite these challenges, she became a prolific writer, publishing several autobiographical works, including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” as well as poetry, plays and essays. She was a close friend and mentor to civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., and her writing often touched on themes of social justice, inequality and empowerment.
In addition to her literary accomplishments, she was also a professor, singer and actress and received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to literature and society.
Monday, March 27: The 6888th Battalion (1945)
The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was an all-Black, all-female battalion of the Women’s Army Corps that served during World War II. The unit was created to address the backlog of mail to and from American soldiers stationed in Europe, particularly Black American soldiers, who had been waiting months, sometimes years, to receive letters from their loved ones.
The 6888th was tasked with sorting and delivering this mail, a task that required tremendous skill, organization and dedication. The unit overcame significant obstacles, including segregation and discrimination, to accomplish its mission, working around the clock for months to deliver millions of pieces of mail.
The women of the 6888th helped to strengthen morale and support for the war effort among Black American soldiers and their families.
Tuesday, March 28: Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977)
Fannie Lou Hamer was a Black civil rights activist who was born in Mississippi in 1917. Despite facing poverty, racism and discrimination throughout her life, Hamer became an influential leader in the fight for civil rights, particularly in voter registration and desegregation efforts. She was a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and played a significant role in challenging the state’s all-white delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
Hamer also helped establish numerous organizations and initiatives aimed at improving the lives of Black people in the South. Despite facing significant opposition, she remained committed to her cause until her death in 1977.
Wednesday, March 29: Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
Shirley Chisholm was an American politician and civil rights activist who was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1924. She became the first Black American woman elected to the United States Congress, serving seven terms as the representative for New York’s 12th Congressional District from 1969 to 1983.
Chisholm was a vocal advocate for women’s rights and social justice, and she was known for her pioneering efforts to break down barriers for marginalized communities. She was also the first woman to seek the presidential nomination from a major political party in 1972.
Thursday, March 30: Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Marsha P. Johnson was a Black transgender woman who played a significant role in the gay rights movement in the United States. Born in New Jersey in 1945, Johnson moved to New York City in the 1960s and became a prominent figure in the city’s LGBTQ+ community. She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, organizations that aimed to provide support and advocacy for homeless LGBTQ+ youth.
Johnson was also one of the key participants in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, which is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the modern gay rights movement. Throughout her life, Johnson faced discrimination and violence due to her gender identity and sexuality, but she remained a fierce advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ people until her death in 1992.
Friday, March 31: Katherine G. Johnson, Mary W. Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan (1960s)
Katherine G. Johnson, Mary W. Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan were three Black women who made significant contributions to the field of mathematics and science at NASA during a time when segregation and discrimination were still widespread.
Johnson’s calculations were crucial in enabling the first manned spaceflight, and she played a key role in the Apollo 11 moon landing. Jackson became NASA’s first Black female engineer and made important contributions to supersonic flight research. Vaughan was a skilled mathematician and was one of the first Black supervisors at NASA. Together, these women helped break down racial and gender barriers in the field of science and inspired generations of young people to pursue careers in STEM.
The mission of NAHOF is to honor antislavery abolitionists, their work to end slavery, and the legacy of that struggle, and strive to complete the second, and ongoing abolition – the moral conviction to end racism.