ANN BRADFORD STOKES

Ann Bradford, early African American navy nurse, was born a slave in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in 1830. Few other details of her early life are known.  She was not able to read or write and was taken aboard a Union ship as “contraband” (an escaped slave) in January 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation has just been issued freeing slaves in states that had left the Union including Tennessee.  

In January 1863 she volunteered to serve as a nurse on the Union hospital ship, USS Red Rover.  At that time the United States Navy enlisted several young African American women into the Navy.  They were given the rank of “first class boy” and paid accordingly, but they were employed as nurses on the Red Rover.  She stayed on active duty until October 1864 when she became totally exhausted and resigned her position.

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SOJURNER TRUTH

Born Isabella Baumfree in New York sometime around 1797, she grew up a slave speaking the native Dutch language of her owners. She was sold at age nine for $100 to an English-speaking family. She escaped slavery in 1826 with her infant child, being forced to leave her four older children behind ("I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right."). Slavery was not abolished in New York until a year later.

In 1848, this fierce female converted to Methodism, renamed herself Sojurner Truth (meaning, roughly "To stay in the truth"), told her friends "the Spirit calls me, and I must go," and began marching up and down the country giving speeches on both the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage.

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JOSEPHINE BAKER

As a dancer and singer, Josephine was one of the most popular and highest-paid entertainers of her time. She also toured France and the States as a comedian and Broadway actress. She performed in controversial, revealing outfits, such as a skirt made entirely out of bananas, which made her memorable to French audiences.

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WARIS DIRIE

Waris Dirie grew up in a nomadic family in the Somali Desert where she was the victim of genital mutilation at the age of five years old. 

The practice of female genital mutilation, a procedure that usually involves cutting off the clitoris and some of the labia, is considered to be a symbol of purity and a sign of commitment to a future husband over a desire for sexual pleasure. In severe cases, the remaining outer labia are sewn together, often without anaesthetic, and only reopened after marriage, to "protect" a girl's virginity.

 

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IDA B. WELLS

Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. 

In the 1890’s Ida led an anti-lynching crusade with her work as a journalist. She wrote as a columnist for various Black publications detailing her experiences as a Black woman in the South, before owning and publishing two magazines of her own: ‘Memphis Free Speech’ and ‘Headlight’ 

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AMY POEHLER

Amy Poehler is an actor, comedian, producer, director, writer and all around BAD ASS know for founding the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, as a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 2001-2008, founder of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. star of one of the all time greatest comedies - Parks & Recreation, executive producer of another amazing female-driven powerhouse - Broad City, as well as Swedish sitcom, Welcome to Sweden, and Hulu’s Difficult People

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LADONNA HARRIS

LaDonna  Harris is a Comanche Native American social activist and politician from Oklahoma

Born in 1931, Harris was raised by her grandparents on a farm near the small town of Walters, Oklahoma during the Great Depression. Harris began her public service as the wife of U.S. Senator Fred Harris. From the 1970s to the present, she has presided over AIO, Americans for Indian Opportunity, which advances, from an Indigenous worldview, the cultural, political and economic rights of Indigenous peoples in the U.S. and around the world.

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DIAN FOSSEY

Dian Fossey was a primatologist and conservationist best known for her work studying mountain gorillas for 18 years in the forests of Rwanda. 

As a young woman, Dian struggled to make ends meet, eventually connecting with Mary and Michael Henry, who invited her to join them on their family farm and eventually inspired her to visit Africa. She borrowed one years salary and took out her life savings to pay for a seven week visit to Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rhodesia. It was on this trip that she met Louis and Mary Leaky and had her first glimpse of the mountain gorillas. 

 

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REBECCA LEE CRUMPLER

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was an American physician and author. Becoming a Doctor of Medicine in 1864 after studying at the New England Female Medical College, she was the first African-American woman to become a physician in the United States. Crumpler first practiced medicine in Boston, primarily for poor women and children. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, she moved to RIchmond, Virginia,  believing it to be "a proper field for real missionary work" and to continue her focus on diseases of women and children.

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MARGARET BULKLEY AKA DR. JAMES BARRY

Margaret Bulkley began living as Dr. James Barry at 18 years old, presumably to pursue a medical degree from Edinburgh University - a privilege only available to men at the time. After graduating, Barry joined the army and rose through the ranks to one of the highest army medical posts. Barry is credited with performing the first successful cesarean section operation in the British Empire in which both mother and child survived. 

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BROWN WEASEL WOMAN AKA RUNNING EAGLE

Brown Weasel Woman, better known as Running Eagle, also won her name on the battlefield. She was a highly respected, member of the Piegan Tribe of the Blackfeet Nation around 1825. When she was young, she preferred to play with the boys over the girls, and when she was 12, she began to wear boys clothing. She wanted to do the things her brothers were doing, and against her mother’s wishes, her father began to teach her. By the time she was 15, she had already proved her impressive hunting skills during buffalo raids.

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ROSE MCGOWAN

After escaping the Children of God cult at the age of 13, Rose McGowan became a household name for her mainstream roles in Scream and Charmed. Though she was quickly pigeonholed as just another pretty Hollywood face, McGowan found solace in turning the industries most one-dimensional roles into her own form of performance art.

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BESSIE COLEMAN

Bessie Coleman was an American civil aviator and was the first woman of African American descent to hold a pilot license. Born to a family of share croppers in Texas, she worked in the cotton fields at a young age but also studied in a small segregated school and went on to attend one term of college at Langston University. 

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HARRIET TUBMAN

Born a slave, she escaped in 1849, traveling 90 miles on foot at night from Maryland into Pennsylvania. She made her way using the Underground Railroad that had been established to help escaped slaves pass from house to house northward into free states. 

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AGNESS UNDERWOOD

Agness “Aggie” Underwood was one of the first women in the United States to hold the position of city editor on a major metropolitan newspaper, in her case, Los Angeles’s Evening Harold and Express. An anomaly in her time, when most female journalists were stuck writing advice columns, Underwood was the original “tough-as-nails” female crime reporter long before film and television made it a well-known cliche. 

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MARGARET CHO

Margaret Cho is an American stand-up comedian, actress, fashion designer, author, and singer-songwriter. Cho is best known for her stand-up routines, through which she critiques social and political problems, especially regarding race and sexuality. 

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EMILIE DU CHATELET

Emilie du Châtelet is best know for being the lover of Voltaire - a man whose name is synonymous with the Enlightenment, which is considered the single biggest leap in mankind’s understanding of itself and the world. It is also a time period known for male chauvinism and diminishing the ability of women. 

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ANJU BOBBY GEORGE

Anju Bobby George is an Indian athlete. Anju made history when she won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. With this achievement, she became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championships in Athletics jumping 6.70 m. 

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MAE WEST

This fierce female was arrested for her Broadway debut in the play SEX, which she starred in, wrote, produced, and directed in 1926 (?!?!?!). Her follow-up was called The Drag, which was about her opposition to gay conversion therapy (sorry Pencey, people found your suggestions laughably ludicrous even in the 20's), but this one didn't make it past the censors due to its flagrant depiction of homosexuality.

 

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