BOUDICA

Boudica was a British queen known for leading a rebellion against Roman oppressors. 

Boudica’s husband, Prasutagus was reigning king of the Celtic Iceni tribe in South East England under Roman rule, which imposed slavery and high taxes. When Prasutagus died, his land and possessions were seized by the Romans, who also took the liberty of seizing the land and possessions of other high ranking members of the Iceni tribe. When Boudica could not pay off his debts, they stripped and beat her publicly and raped her daughters.

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BILLIE JEAN KING

Today's fierce female is Billie Jean King.

Taking up tennis at the age of 11 because it was consider a ladylike sport, she made her first Grand Slam appearance at 15. She lost in the first round.

She went on to have one of the most successful careers in the history of tennis, winning a record 20 Wimbledon titles, all four Grand Slam events in 1972, and 129 singles titles. She was the first woman and first tennis player to be named Sports Illustrated's Sports"man" of the Year.

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GEORGIA O'KEEFFE

Georgia O’Keeffe attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then the Art Students League of New York, but she quickly tired of the typical art instruction she was receiving, which focused mostly on creating realistic looking copies of images seen in nature. When she discovered the work of Arthur Wesley Dow, she began exploring a more abstract, expressive style of painting.


In 1915, while teaching at Columbia College in South Carolina, she created a series of abstract charcoal drawings, and is believed to be one the first American artists to practice pure abstraction.

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SONIA GANDHI

This week’s BAB is taken from Feminist E-Zine.com

Sonia Gandhi is the President of the Indian National Congress and leader of the United Progressive Alliance — the ruling party in the lower house of India’s Parliament. Her position in government is one of the highest offices in the world’s second most populous nation (the most populous democratic nation).

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JULIA CHILD

After graduating from Smith College with a major in history, Julia Child worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency, and later - after being rejected from the Women’s Army Corps due to her height of 6’2” - she became a typist for the Office of Strategic Services in Washington. She was quickly promoted to the position of top secret researcher, working directly for the head of the OSS. She was a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence Division, then worked as an assistant to developers at the OSS Emergency Rescue Equipment Section where her very first foray into cooking was in the development of a shark repellant to keep curious sharks from setting off underwater explosives.

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TONI MORRISON

Toni Morrison, is an American novelist, essayist, editor, and professor noted for her examination of the black experience within the black community. 

Morrison grew up in the American Midwest in a family that possessed an intense love of and appreciation for black culture. Storytelling, songs, and folktales were a deeply formative part of her childhood. 

Morrison’s first book, The Bluest Eye, is a novel of initiation concerning a victimized adolescent black girl who is obsessed by white standards of beauty and longs to have blue eyes. In 1973 a second novel, Sula, was published; it examines the dynamics of friendship and the expectations for conformity.

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MARIELLE FRANCO

Today's fierce female is Marielle Franco.

A single mother at 19, she paid her way through college, ultimately earning a master's degree in public administration. She took an interest in combatting gang violence in her native Rio de Janeiro.

She was elected to Rio's City Council in 2016. She fought against gender violence, for women's reproductive rights, and as an openly gay woman, she became a leading advocate for LGBT rights. She was a voice for the poor in a city and country with a tremendous economic divide.

 

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EMMELINE PANKHURST

Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote. In 1999 Time named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating "she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back".[1] She was widely criticized for her militant tactics, and historians disagree about their effectiveness, but her work is recognized as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in the United Kingdom.

 

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SARAH BREEDLOVE AKA MADAM C.J. WALKER

Born in 1867 in Louisiana, she was orphaned at age 7. By age 10, she had entered the workforce as a maid. Married at 14 and widowed at 20, she eventually moved to St. Louis, where she found work selling hair products to the African-American community. She used trial and error to develop her own product lines and took her business on the road, eventually becoming the largest rival to her former employer.

After moves from St. Louis to Denver to Pittsburgh, she eventually settled in Indianapolis, where she established a factory in 1910. Her business took off, and her group of traveling saleswomen spread "the Walker Method" of hair grooming across the country. By 1917, over 20,000 women had been trained on how to market and sell her products. 

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APHRA BEHN

When Aphra Behn sailed to Antwerp in 1666 to spy for King Charles II of England, he refused to pay her for services rendered, and she landed in debtors’ prison. After her release, she eked out a living the only way she knew how: by writing.

For the next 20 years, Behn wrote and performed in plays on the bawdy English stage. Playwriting afforded Behn  some fortune, some fame, and some infamy. Her plays gained notoriety as being too risqué. She became known as the Restoration’s version of Jackie Collins.

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CECILIA PAYNE

Cecilia Payne was awarded a scholarship to Cambridge University where she studied, chemistry, physics and botany. Her passion for astronomy began after attending a lecture by Arthur Eddington about his expedition to the Gulf of Guinea to observe and photograph a solar eclipse and the nearby stars to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. Cecilia said, 'The result was a complete transformation of my world picture. My world had been so shaken that I experienced something very like a nervous breakdown.’

Though she completed her studies at Cambridge, she did not receive a degree because - you guessed it - she’s a woman! Cambridge didn’t grant degrees to female students until 1948. Womp. 

 

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LOLO JONES

One of the most popular figures in American track and field today, Lolo Jones has overcome many challenges to excel at her sport. Born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1982, Jones grew up poor as one of five children being raised by a single mother. She and her family moved a lot, and even lived in a church's basement for a time. All of these changes of address meant that Jones went to a different school each year during her youth, until high school.

At Theodore Roosevelt High School, Jones pursued her love of track.  She showed great promise as a hurdler, winning the Gatorade Iowa Track and Field Athlete of the Year award. 

 

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MARLEY DIAS

When she was in 6th grade, in 2015, Marley launched the hashtag #1000blackgirlbooks after being inspired by Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming.

“A world where modern black girls were the main characters — not invisible, not just the sidekick,” Marley writes. “A world where black girls were free to be complicated, honest, human; to have adventures and emotions unique just to them. A world where black girls’ stories mattered.”

When her mother asked her, “if you could change one thing, what would it be?” Marley’s answer to was that she wanted kids to read more books where black girls were the protagonist. 

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FANNIE LOU HAMER

Fannie Lou Hamer, born in Mississippi, was working in the fields when she was six, and was only educated through the sixth grade. She married in 1942, and adopted two children. She went to work on the plantation where her husband drove a tractor, first as a field worker and then as the plantation's timekeeper. She simultaneously attended meetings of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, where speakers addressed self-help, civil rights, and voting rights.

In 1962, Fannie Lou Hamer volunteered to work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) registering black voters in the South. She and the rest of her family lost their jobs for her involvement, and SNCC hired her as a field secretary. She was able to register to vote for the first time in her life in 1963, and then taught others what they'd need to know to pass the then-required literacy test. 

 

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DOROTHY HEIGHT

Dorothy Height was a civil rights and women’s rights activist who lead the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. 

In high school, she employed her exceptional oratory skills in anti-lynching campaigns and received a college scholarship after winning a national oratory competition. After being accepted to Barnard, she was told that her admission was being rescinded because they already met their quota of black students. Undeterred, she applied to and was accepted at New York University.

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DIAHANN CARROLL

Diahann Carroll dominated Hollywood, the Broadway stage, and the silver screen in the 1960s. 

Carroll was born in the Bronx  and grew up in Harlem, . She attended the Music and Art High School, in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  In many interviews about her childhood, Carroll recalls her parents' support of her and they enrolled her in dance, singing, and modeling classes. It worked, and by the time Diahann was 15, she was modeling for Ebony. After graduating from high school, she  attended New York University, majoring in sociology.

 

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MILEVA MARIC EINSTEIN

Born in Serbia in 1857, Mileva Maric Einstein was allowed to sit in on the physics lessons typically reserved for boys because her father got special permission from the Minister of Education (go dad!)

She entered the physics and mathematics section of the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich along with four other male classmates: Marcel Grossmann, Louis Kollros, Jakob Ehrat, and Albert Einstein. Mileva and Albert became inseparable and her methodical and dedicated work ethic seemed to positively influence Albert, who rarely attended class and preferred to study at home.

 

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TONI STONE

Toni Stone was born Marcenia Stone in 1921 in Bluefield, W.Va. Her family relocated to St. Paul, Minn., to a burgeoning African-American neighborhood called Rondo. They were part of the Great Migration, the period between 1910 and 1970 when millions of African Americans left the South for the North, Midwest and West.

From the start, Marcenia was a tremendous athlete. She picked up the nickname "Tomboy" and excelled at baseball, having no choice but to play on boys' teams. She talked her way into tryouts for a boys' baseball camp and ignored her parents' pleas not to pursue the sport. It wasn't ladylike, they worried; nor would it put her on the path to higher education that they believed African Americans in the Jim Crow era needed.

 

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TARANA BURKE

Originally from the Bronx, Tarana Burke has spent the last 25 years working as an activist and organizer around the country, helping young people in marginalized communities. 

 

Tarana Burke founded the MeToo movement in 2006, recognizing that it could help women - especially women and girls of color - who had survived sexual assault, as she had. She is currently working on a Me Too documentary, which comes out this year.

 

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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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