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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MILLICENT GARRET FAWCETT

Millicent Garrett Fawcett was born in Suffolk in 1846 to a prosperous middle-class family. Being educated in London gave Millicent a keen interest in literature and education, which lasted throughout her life. A pivotal moment occurred when she was 19 and went to hear a speech by the radical MP, John Stuart Mill. Mill was an early advocate of universal women’s suffrage. His speech on equal rights for women made a big impression on Millicent, and she became actively involved in his campaign.

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MAZIE HIRONO

By Tim Sullivan

Born in Japan, she was raised by a single immigrant mother in Hawaii. She entered politics, being awarded Legislator of the Year in 1984 for her work in the Hawaiian House of Representatives.

She was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1994 and ran for Governor in 2002. After a blistering Democratic primary that she won by 1%, she was defeated by Republican Linda Lingle in the general election.

She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, where she championed education reform and federal support for family planning.

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RENEE RICHARDS

Today’s Boss Ass Bitch is Renee Richards, famed tennis player of the 1970s, current day Ophthalmologist, and  one of the first professional athletes to identify as transgender.

She was born on August 19, 1934, in New York City, and raised, as she put it, as "a nice Jewish boy" in Forest Hills, Queens.  Her father David Raskind was an orthopedic surgeon, and her mother was one of the first female psychiatrists in the United States, in addition to being a professor at Columbia University.

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JOCELYN BELL BURNELL

Born in Northern Ireland in 1943, Jocelyn developed an interest in science and astronomy when her father, an architect, designed a planetarium. She enrolled in an all-girls grammar school that refused to teach its students science, instead teaching valuable life skills like cross-stitching. After Jocelyn, her parents, and others protested, the school finally began offering a science curriculum.

While earning her PhD at Cambridge University, Jocelyn discovered radio pulsars while working on her thesis project. It is considered one of the greatest discoveries in the history of astrophysics, and it ultimately earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974.

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LADY HELL CATS

Today’s Boss Ass Bitches are the Lady Hell Cats 

Prior to World War I, if a woman wanted to join the military, she would have to join as a nurse or disguise her sex. Some historians estimate that hundreds of women served in the Civil War dressed as men. World War I was the turning point for women wishing to enter the military. At the beginning of the war, there were around 650,000 men serving in the military. By the end of World War I, almost 5 million people, both men and women, served in the military in some capacity.

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M.I.A.

Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam grew up in the midst of the Sri Lankan Civil War, moving frequently and eventually going into hiding from the Sri Lankan army. Her father, Arul - who eventually adopted the name Arular - became a political activist and founding member of the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students, a Tamil independence movement. Eventually, Maya's mother moved them to India, where they lived in a derelict house. On the rare occasions that Arular was able to have contact with the family, he was introduced to his children as “Uncle,” to protect them.

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DAME AGATHA CHRISTY

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie also wrote the world's longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap,and, under the pen name Mary Westmacott, six romances. In 1971 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to literature.

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HANNA SHEEHY SKEFFINGTON

By Tim Sullivan

Born in County Cork in 1877, Hanna Sheehy married Francis Skeffington after being introduced to him by their mutual friend, James Joyce. They took the joint surname Sheehy Skeffington, an act that was pretty revolutionary in 1903. Francis' father disowned him as a result.

Hanna and Francis both devoted their lives to advancing the causes of women's rights and Irish independence.

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ROSIE THE RIVETER

From History.com

Rosie the Riveter was the star of a campaign aimed at recruiting female workers for defense industries during World War II, and she became perhaps the most iconic image of working women. American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers during the war, as widespread male enlistment left gaping holes in the industrial labor force.

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FRANCIS PERKINS

Today's fierce female is Frances Perkins.

Born in 1880, she earned a master's degree at Columbia before marrying economist Paul Caldwell Wilson in 1913. She defended her right to keep her maiden name in court and was the sole breadwinner in her household for many years.

After a number of years teaching in universities, she was moved to action by the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in 1911, which killed 146 people - mostly immigrant women. She became the executive secretary for the Committee on Safety of the City of New York, moving up in government positions before being named the first Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1929.

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MARGARET MEAD

Mead is credited with changing the way we study different human cultures. The daughter of a University of Pennsylvania economist and a feminist political activist, she graduated from Barnard College in 1923.  Mead went on to get a Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1929.

Mead was appointed assistant curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History in 1926. After expeditions to Samoa and New Guinea, she published Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)—which became a best seller—and Growing Up in New Guinea (1930). All together, she made 24 field trips among six South Pacific peoples.

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MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS

Born in 1890, she graduated with straight A's from Wellesley. She met and married Kenneth Douglas in 1914, but divorced him within a year after discovering he was a con man already married to someone else. She never married again.

She moved to Miami, where she became a reporter for the Miami Herald. She quickly found her voice in the paper's editorial page, where she became an outspoken advocate for women's suffrage and civil rights.

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WILMA MANKILLER

Born on November 18, 1945, in Oklahoma, Wilma Pearl Mankiller was a descendant of the Cherokee,  who were forced to leave their homelands in 1830s;  She grew up on Mankiller Flats, located near Rocky Mountains, Oklahoma, before moving with her family in the mid-1950s to San Francisco, California, in hopes of a better life. 

In the 1960s, Mankiller was greatly inspired by the attempts to reclaim the island of Alcatraz to become more active in Native American issues. She then decided to return to Oklahoma in the mid-1970s. Soon after returning, she began working for the government of the Cherokee Indian Nation as a tribal planner and program developer.

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GRACE HOPPER

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper - taken in part from the American Computer & Robotics Museum in Bozeman, Montana. 

Grace Hopper was a pioneer in the field of computer science and one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, developing the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. 

She received her B.A. in mathematics and physics from Vassar, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1928, and went on to complete her M.A. and Ph.D. at Yale. After teaching math at Vassar from 1931-1941, she won a faculty fellowship for study at New York University’s Courant Institute for Mathematics.

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LILLY LEDBETTER

Taken from LillyLedbetter.com

Lilly Ledbetter was born in a house with no running water or electricity in the small town of Possum Trot, Alabama. She knew that she was destined for something more, and in 1979, with two young children at home and over the initial objections of her husband Charles, Lilly applied for her dream job at the Goodyear tire factory. Even though the only women she’d seen there were secretaries in the front offices where she’d submitted her application, she got the job—one of the first women hired at the management level.

Though she faced daily gender prejudice and sexual harassment, Lilly pressed onward, believing that eventually things would change. Until, nineteen years after her first day at Goodyear, Lilly received an anonymous note revealing that she was making thousands less per year than the men in her position. 

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MARSHA P. JOHNSON

By Tim Sullivan!

Born Malcolm Michaels, Jr. in 1945, her mother told her if she was gay, she was "lower than a dog." She left home and moved to New York City with $15 to her name.

Taking the name Johnson from the Howard Johnson's on 42nd Street, and her middle initial P. for "Pay It No Mind," Marsha P. Johnson became an indelible figure in the queer community of New York in the 1960's.

She was present at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 and is considered one of the first to fight back against the police raid. In defiance of police efforts to shut the bar down, she threw a shotglass at a mirror - "the shotglass heard around the world."

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ELIZABETH CADY STANTON

Taken from Biography,com

Women's rights activist, feminist, editor, and writer. Born on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York. The daughter of a lawyer who made no secret of his preference for another son, she early showed her desire to excel in intellectual and other "male" spheres. She graduated from the Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary in 1832 and then was drawn to the abolitionist, temperance, and women's rights movements through visits to the home of her cousin, the reformer Gerrit Smith.

In 1840 Elizabeth Cady Stanton married a reformer Henry Stanton (omitting “obey” from the marriage oath), and they went at once to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where she joined other women in objecting to their exclusion from the assembly.

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