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My daughter, Annie, is 7 years old and in the second grade at Indian Creek Elementary. Annie has been given an assignment to research a famous black figure. She is to provide information, draw a picture of the person and draw five symbols which would represent this person. I am interested in finding a black woman who has made a dramatic impact on the African American female culture in the present time. I am afraid that I am not able to provide that information for my daughter and thought you could possibly suggest or provide articles or resources for us to view. Jane & Annie

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM and what an exciting project you have ahead of you. There are a number of black women that I would recommend you could do your report on. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Fannie Lou Hamer--from Sunflower Country, Mississippi. She successfully registered many blacks to vote throughout the south and became one of the first black delegates to attend the primary elections. She was a founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She also led the crusade to stop the unknown sterilization of black women.
  • Rosa Parks (1913--) She has been referred to as "the mother of the civil rights movement." She is most famous for refusing to give up her seat in the front of the bus and move to the back of the bus, something that was expected of blacks pre-1960s activism. This act led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which many people credit as a first step in the civil rights movement.
  • Sojourner Truth--an abolitionist and women's rights activist, who lived from 1799-1883. She gave a famous speech "Ain't I A Woman?" which demanded that women who are poor and black be included in the category "women."
  • Harriet Tubman (1821-1913) who was a runaway slave and the conductor of the "Underground Railroad," which helped many other runaway slaves. She rescued over 200 slaves. She has been distinguished as the only woman in American military history to plan and execute an armed expedition against enemy forces.
For more contemporary women I suggest: Johnetta Coal (former president of Spellman College); Ruth Simmons (current president of Smith College); Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Senator Carol Mosley Braun; Politician Shirly Chisolm--and so many more.

To learn more about any of these suggestions and to get more suggestions, I recommend Black Women in America: An Encyclopedia.


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