BUFFALO CALF ROAD

By Rosemary Agonito for AMAZINGWOMENHISTORY.com

The remarkable story of a young Cheyenne warrior woman in her early twenties, Buffalo Calf Road, spans a period of 3 years from 1876 until her death in 1879. During this time the Cheyenne were caught in the westward expansion of pioneers, miners and the army, all determined to colonize the land on the great plains occupied by native peoples. The Cheyenne and other native tribes endured attacks, massacres and forced removals to reservations.

It is not known how she acquired her skill with a gun, but Buffalo Calf Road first rose to prominence among her people at the Battle of the Rosebud. Since General Crook and his men were seen advancing toward their village, warriors prepared to ride out to stop them. Determined to help save her people, Buffalo Calf Road decided to ride with the warriors despite some opposition to a woman doing so.

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JACINTA ARDERN

by Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Jacinda Ardern.



Born in 1980, Jacinda was raised Mormon before renouncing her religion in 2005 due to their lack of support for gay rights. She was introduced to politics by her aunt, a veteran campaigner for the Labour Party. She became a senior leader of Young Labour at 17, and she was elected as a Member of the New Zealand Parliament in 2008.

Despite being the youngest member in Parliament, Jacinda was quickly promoted to the front bench, serving as the party’s spokesperson for Youth Affairs. When Labour Party leader Andrew Little resigned, she was unanimously confirmed as the new Leader of the Opposition that same day.

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MARIA GLENN

By Naomi Clifford from amazingwomeninhistory.com


Maria Glenn was a shy young woman living in Regency England who endured criticism and vilification and was stoic in the face of bullying by her numerous powerful enemies.


Maria Glenn, the daughter of a barrister, was born in the West Indies in 1801. She moved to Taunton in Somerset when she was 11, lived in France for two decades as an adult and returned to England when she was in her early forties.

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MAYA LIN

by Tim Sullivan
Today’s fierce female is Maya Lin.

Born in Ohio to Chinese immigrants, Maya stunned the architect world as an undergraduate at Yale when she won the contest to design the Vietnam Memorial in Washington out of more than 1,400 entries, all made anonymously. The project had only earned her a B when she submitted it to her professor.

The decision was incredibly controversial because of the unique and modern design, but particularly because of her gender and Asianheritage. After pledging significant funding to the memorial, Ross Perot withdrew his support, referring to Maya as an “egg roll.”

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CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON

From AMAZINGWOMENINHISTORY.COM 

by Anne Boyd Rioux 

The author Constance Fenimore Woolson ( date of birth) , who wrote five novels for adults and dozens of stories, was widely considered during her lifetime one of the most important American fiction writers of the nineteenth century.

While Woolson may not be a household name today, she is a bit of a novelty for students of American literature because of her close friendship with Henry James, who enshrined his memories of her and their friendship in some of his most famous works, The Beast in the Jungle and The Wings of the Dove.

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CAROL BURNETT

CAROL BURNETT by Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is Carol Burnett.

Born in 1933, both of her parents suffered from alcoholism. She was taken in by her grandmother who raised her in Hollywood. She worked as a usher before receiving an anonymous envelope addressed to her with $50 in it. That paid for her first year’s tuition at UCLA.

Carol initially set out to become a playwright, in part because her mother discouraged her from pursuing a career acting. “She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like.” When she took her first acting class as was required for the playwriting degree, she knew she could never turn her back on performing.

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NANCY PELOSI

By Tim Sullivan

Our final fierce female in the series is Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Born in Baltimore in 1940, Nancy was the youngest of seven children, and the only girl. Both her father and brother served as mayor, giving her an early introduction to politics. She married Paul Pelosi in 1963 and relocated to his hometown of San Francisco.

While raising five children, Nancy remained active in politics, becoming a member of the DNC, and a leading fundraising for California Democrats. She ran for Congress in a special election in 1987, defeating her Republican opponent handily At the time, she was one of just 27 women in the House of Representatives.

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HANNIE SCHAFT

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Hannie Schaft.

Born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, in 1920, she studied law at the University of Amsterdam. After the German invasion, she joined 80% of her peers in refusing to sign a document pledging support of the invading forces. They were all expelled from school.

Hannie became actively involved with the resistance, first by stealing IDs to give to her Jewish friends, and later leading more outwardly subversive acts. She started running operations targeting Nazi officers, seducing them, gaining their trust, and then assassinating them.

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MARY TREAT

By Miranda Garno Nesler

From AMAZINGWOMENINHISTORY.com

Mary Treat (1830-1923) was a prolific scientific writer who earned a reputation as “the world’s most famous and industrious woman naturalist” at a time when few women were professionally engaged in biology.

The daughter of a minister, Treat attended a private girls’ academy early in life. Such academies, or “seminaries,” were an answer to the contemporary lack of rigorous female education in the United States at the time; and in addition to ladies’ finishing courses, the academies trained students like Treat in the sciences and humanities.

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JULIA CHASE-BRAND

By Danika Kimball

From AMAZINGWOMENINHISTORY.com

When Julia Chase-Brand was growing up, women didn’t run. Born in 1945 in Groton, Connecticut, Chase recalls being surrounded by four active brothers, in a time where girls couldn’t run, play soccer, and if they were to play basketball, it was at the half court line. Inspired by local distance runner John J. Kelley, Chase started her running career at an early age.

In the early 1960s, women weren’t allowed to participate in races that were over 880 yards. Popular opinion of the time deemed distance running harmful to women’s reproductive abilities. But a young Chase loved to run; regularly logging at least 60 miles per week.

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MARY PICKFORD

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Mary Pickford.

Born Gladys Smith in 1892, she began her career as a child actor and performer on the Vaudeville circuit. She won her first Broadway role at age fifteen, but the producer stipulated that she needed to change her name to the more mellifluous Mary Pickford. She caught the eye of D.W. Griffith, who hired her for his new silent film production company Biograph. She appeared in a staggering 51 films in 1909 alone.

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MARGARET HAMILTON

Margaret Hamilton graduated from Earlham College in  1958 with a bachelors degree in mathematics and a minor in philosophy. After working teaching high school math and French, supporting he husband as he completed his undergraduate degree, Hamilton took a software development job at MIT in 1960, at the age of 24. During her first year at MIT, the lab she worked in began developing the guidance and navigation system for NASA’s Apollo 11. 

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ADA 'BRICKTOP' SMITH

On August 14, 1894, entertainer Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith was born at Alderson. At age five, Ada made her stage debut in Chicago, appearing in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

By age 16, she was performing on the vaudeville circuit. Soon afterward, a New York saloon keeper gave her the nickname ‘‘Bricktop’’ for her blazing red hair, unusual for an African-American.

In the 1920s, she was singing and dancing in Paris, where she became friends with composer Cole Porter. Porter supposedly wrote the song “Miss Otis Regrets She’s Unable to Lunch Today’’ for Bricktop.

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KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW

Kimberlé Crenshaw is a leading scholar of critical race theory, a professor at Columbia Law School, co-founder of Columbia’s African American Policy Forum, and director of their Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, and president of the Center for Intersectional Justice in Berlin.


She received her Bachelor’s degree in government and Africana studies from Cornell University in 1981, her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1984 and an L.L.M. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1985 where she was a William H. Hastie Fellow.

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CLARA BELLE WILLIAMS

From Blackisreallybeautiful.wordpress.com

Clara Belle Williams was the first black graduate of New Mexico State University. Many or her professors would not allow her inside the class room, she had to take notes from the hallway; she was also not allowed to walk with her class to get her diploma. She became a great teacher, of black students by day, and by night she taught their parents (former slaves) home economics.

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JACKIE SHANE

Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1940, Jackie Shane self-identified as a woman trapped in a man’s body at age 13, though she was referred to as man throughout her career. At the age of 19, she moved to Toronto and began performing, dressing in wigs and makeup, sequins and fur, and infusing her sultry songs and passionate speeches with subversive transparency. 

She began as a drum player and gospel singer in Ohio and Tennessee, landing her first radio spot at age 14. She worked as a performer in segregated “soul tents,” which brought her to Canada. Shane studied with Little Richard and performed alongside legends such as Etta James, Jackie Wilson and Jimi Hendrix, but she dropped off the scene in 1971, at the age of 31, to care for her mother, moving back to Tennessee after her death in 1997.

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CLARA BARTON

Clara Barton was born In December 1821. Barton spent much of her life in the service of others and created an organization that still helps people in need today -- the American Red Cross.
A shy child, she first found her calling when she tended to her brother David after an accident.

During the Civil War, Clara Barton sought to help the soldiers in any way she could. At the beginning, she collected and distributed supplies for the Union Army. Not content sitting on the sidelines, Barton served as an independent nurse and first saw combat in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1862. She also cared for wounded soldiers. Barton was nicknamed "the angel of the battlefield" for her work.

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HATTIE MCDANIEL

By Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is Hattie McDaniel.

Born to former slaves in 1895, Hattie got her start in show business performing in minstrel shows on the vaudeville circuit.

She moved to Hollywood in 1931 and began getting bit parts in films - almost always as a maid. In 1939, she won the coveted role of Mammy in Gone With the Wind. She and her black co-stars were not allowed to attend the premiere in Atlanta because of Georgia's segregation laws.

She became the first African-American to be nominated for and to win an Oscar for the role. The hotel the Academy Awards were held in that year had a strict policy prohibiting blacks, but Hattie was allowed in given she was a nominee. She was sat at a segregated table away from the other guests.


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MARY CHURCH TERRELL

From blackpast.org

Mary Church Terrell, a writer, educator, and activist, co-founded the National Association of Colored Women and served as the organization’s first president. Known as “Mollie” to her family, Church who was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1863, lived a life of privilege due to the economic success of her parents, both former slaves.  Her mother, Louisa Ayres Church, owned a hair salon, while her father, Robert Reed Church, was the first black millionaire in the South due to his business and real estate dealings.  Church's parents divorced when she and her brother were young, and her father remarried. 

Church left her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, at an early age to enroll at the elementary school at the Antioch College laboratory school in Ohio. 

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JAMEELA JAMIL

Jameela Jamil is a British actor, model, host and feminist activist. She began working as an english teacher before becoming a television and radio host, making history as the first solo female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Chart show. 

As a teenager, Jamil suffered from anorexia saying “I was bombarded with a narrative that had no alternative. There were never any women who were celebrated for their intellect ... and all of my magazines were selling me weight loss products or telling me to be thin. Otherwise, I wasn't worth anything.”

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