BY AMANDA MOSES
Today is International Women’s Day! This global event is celebrated on March 8th every year to honor the achievements of women of the past and present. In fact, the entire month of March is deemed Women’s History Month, commemorating all of the contributions females have made over the course of history. Throughout the centuries women have faced gender barriers, denying them basic human rights and equal opportunities. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century when women started to make headway. The likes of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Candy Stanton and Lucy Stone advocated for equal treatment and voting rights, leading to the Federal Women Suffrage Amendment (first introduced to Congress in 1878). This amendment was ratified by the states on August 18, 1920, becoming the 19th amendment. In 1978, women were recognized for their contributions during “Women’s History Week.” Congress expanded the weeklong celebration and declared March as National Women’s History Month.
Today, almost a hundred years later, we have the suffragettes, trailblazers, and innovators to thank for breaking gender and social barriers. Even in 2019 women continue to burst through glass ceilings as CEOs, directors, authors, and so much more. Last year more than 100 women won seats in the House of Representatives, shattering the record that counted only 84 women elected out of the 435 seats. Of those females elected: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Ayanna Pressly is the first black House member from Massachusetts, Rashida Talib and Ilhan Omar were the first Muslim Congresswomen, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland were the first Native American Congresswomen elected, Marsha Blackburn is the first female senator from Tennessee, Janet Mills is the first female Governor of Maine, Abby Finkenauer is the first Congresswoman from Iowa, Jahana Hayes is the first black congresswoman from Connecticut, and Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia were the first Latina Congresswomen from Texas.
Even in the arts and entertainment industry, women are knocking down doors. On February 24th, Ruth E. Carter made history as the first black woman to win best costume design at the Oscars for her work on Black Panther.
Each of the aforementioned women did not take “no” for an answer. They overcame gender and racial barriers that often devalued their worth, and they never give up on their dreams. Their steadfast temperament continues to shape American history and paves way for a brighter future.
In light of March being Women’s History Month, the Spring Creek Sun has listed a few notable female figures from Brooklyn whose infamy continues to be an inspiration for all to behold.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second woman to be appointed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice (selected by President Bill Clinton in 1993). She was born in Midwood, Brooklyn and at-tended James Madison High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University and then her Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School. Despite her academic ex-cellence, Ginsburg was faced with hostility while navigating through the male dominated field of law. She overcame many of the prejudices to become the first female member of the Harvard Law Review and in 1972, she became the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School. Ginsburg is a staunch advocate for equal rights, arguing for over six landmark cases for gender equality in the US Supreme Court. She believes that the law is gender blind.
Barbra Streisand is a renowned musician, actress, songwriter, and filmmaker. She was born in Williams-burg, Brooklyn in 1942. She attended Bais Yakov School and then Erasmus Hall High School. Streisand started her career as a cabaret singer (at clubs like Bon Soir and Blue Angel). In 1962, she made her Broadway debut in “I Can Get It For You Wholesale.” She received a Tony Nomination and New York Drama Critics Award for this performance. In 1963, she was signed with Columbia records and released “The Barbra Streisand Album”, earning two Grammy Awards (including Album of the Year). Streisand has received Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Oscar, and Golden Globe nominations.
Rosie Perez is an actress, talk show host, author, dancer, and activist born in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 1964. Perez earned her first major acting role in the Spike Lee film, Do the Right Thing. In 1993, she was nominated for Best Sup-porting Actress for her role as Carla Rodrigo in Fearless. She has been nominated for three Emmy Awards for her work as a choreographer in Living Color, and she was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award for her performance in The Take. She also was the co-host on the talk show the View from 2014-2015.
Mary Tyler Moore was an actress born in Flatbush, Brooklyn in 1936. She is known for role of Mary Richards in the hit sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. After moving to Los Angeles with her family as a teenager, she earned roles acting in commercials. In 1961, she landed a part in The Dick Van Dyke Show, winning an Emmy for outstanding performance by an actress in a series. In 1970, the Mary Tyler Moore Show was launched and continued for seven seasons. The show earned 29 Emmys and became a beacon of hope for feminism because of Moore’s portrayal of an independent, witty journalist. Some say the show represented the feminism movement because it was one of the first female driven series at the time. Moore went on to win a Tony award in 1980 for her performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway? and an Academy Award for her role in Ordinary People. Moore passed away on January 25, 2017.
Lena Horne was an actress, singer, and activist born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn in 1917. She started her career as a dancer in Harlem’s Cotton Club. Once she signed with MGM Studios Horne became one of the most iconic African-American performers in the 1940s. The NAACP made sure to help Horne’s seven year contract with MGM Studios by stipulating that she would not be relegated to domestic worker roles (a stereotypical position that many Black actors and actresses were requested to play). She is known for her films: Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather, and The Wiz. She was very active in the Civil Rights Movement, protesting on behalf of the NAACP and National Council for Negro Women. She passed away from heart failure on May 9, 2010.