ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

African American Women' s Fight For Equality

Updated on November 28, 2014


African American history has not been well documented yet their contribution to history is noteworthy. Struggles were widespread and the hopes of being equal were not well received for many year. Frequently slavery served as the foundation of this perception, which condoned some groups to reduce the value of others and thereby lessens their deserved treatment. The judgment felt by minority’s remains despite the fall of slavery and the supposed end of racism.

Regardless that society is past the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements often those roots still live in American culture and the manner in which it operates. One key area that society refuses to recognize became the basis for this article.

Many questions arose as I wrote. One questions I could not answer. Why are African American women not well recognized and documented in historical literature? Literature that depicts African American women’s effort in the movement remains sparse and much of noted documentation is reported as a part of the Civil Rights Movement. One must ask were African American women during this time not considered viable women?


Women’s Equality As Seen By African American Women

Despite being two separate movements, the Women’s Movement and Civil Rights Movement were felt by all African American women. Only this group of individuals can truly say that they fought for two movements simultaneously.

As said by Mary Church Terrell, “the only group in this country that has two such huge obstacles to surmount …both sex and race.” During a time of little tolerance for race and gender, African American women fought for women’s rights through the pretenses of the Civil Rights Movement.

Irrespective of African American women’s desire to lobby with other women, Caucasian women felt that this group of women may foil their efforts. Thereby African American women were excluded from participating in the effort. Literature reflects these claims since African American women’s contributions toward women’s equality were documented as part of the Civil Rights Movement.

Mary Church Terrell
Mary Church Terrell | Source
Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman | Source
Ella Baker
Ella Baker | Source

African American Women To Remember

Regardless of the fact those African American women worked toward equality of all women. It is imperative to recall those that contributed during this era. Many of the women discussed below are not infamous in history, though worthy of remembering. Several of the women simultaneously stood for both, yet limited to being recognized for fighting for equality of African American’s.

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell’s motto “lifting as we climb” was the first African American woman to serve on the Washington, DC school board. As the president of National Association Colored Women during 1896 to 1901, Mary became a highly influential woman.

Harriet Tubman

A very famous woman, Harriet Tubman was born a slave. Later finding that her father was actually born a free man she felt that made her free as well. But she knew that the law would not support her freedom and fled in 1849. Once she landed upon her own freedom in the north, Harriet worked as a railroad conductor, allowing her to free over 300 slaves through the railroad. Her crusade to free endless slaves is known today as the “underground railroad.”

Ella Baker

A backstage supporter, Ella Baker accompanied by Martin Luther King Jr and Thurgood Marshall fought for equality during the Civil Rights movement. She became a labor organizer and eventually became one of the leaders of the Southern Christian Conference. In the end Ella acknowledged that the movement was not all about the leaders but the effort put in by all.

Septima Clark
Septima Clark | Source

Septima Clark

Septima Clark was known as the “grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement.” Initially she became a public figure on behalf of the rights for African Americans to vote. Septima became an activist of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and worked to educate illiterate adults. In addition to serving adults, she fought to have a petition signed that would allow African American’s to serve as principals in Charleston schools. Her efforts were recognized in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter awarded her the Living Legacy Award.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks | Source

Rosa Parks

One of the most public iconic African American women remains to be Rosa Parks. Her infamous moment emerged on one long day in December of 1955. After boarding a public bus in Montgomery Alabama a white man also boarded. When Rosa refused to give her seat to this man a riot evoked. This riot lasted 381 day and when the riot ended Montgomery decided to desegregate public transportation and Rosa was commended for her courage. When asked about her actions she responded that she was just tired after a long day and did not intend on creating such uproar.

Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer | Source

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper was beaten and jailed in 1962 for trying to register to vote. Following that episode she became a voting rights activist. If you ever wondered about the quote, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” well that was coined by Fannie. Eventually Fannie became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965. Despite all her efforts and importance, Fannie was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 1977.

Angela Davis
Angela Davis | Source

Angela Davis

Angela Davis, famous for being part of the radical group Black Panthers. She wrote about women’s rights and radical justice. Following the obtainment of a college degree she became a professor at University of California- Santa Cruz. However, due to her political views, former Governor Ronald Regan proclaimed that she would never work for a UC system again and had her removed.

Marian Wright Edelman
Marian Wright Edelman | Source

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman attended Yale Law School and graduated in 1963. She became the first African American women to enter the Mississippi state bar. In 1973 she funded the Children’s Defense Fund and advocated for children’s rights.

Alice Walker
Alice Walker | Source

Alice Walker

Alice Walker is best known for her work as the author and Pulitzer Prize winner of the Color Purple. Eventually turned into a movie starring Oprah, the Color Purple depicted the struggle of African American women. Despite being shot in the right by a BB gun as a child, Alice persevered to become the valedictorian of her high school and then attended Spelman College in Atlanta.

Vivian Malone Jones
Vivian Malone Jones | Source

Vivian Malone Jones

Vivian Malone Jones defied the Governors laws in Alabama that excluded African American’s from attending certain colleges when she enrolled in the University of Alabama in 1963. Following her stand she worked in the Civil Rights division of the US Justice Department.

Why were African American women not part of the Women's Movement?

See results

Final Thoughts

Inspirational women who fought fearlessly and hard during not one but two movements, African American women are truly underrepresented and underappreciated. A sizeable amount of the women above starred in the face of adversity and without fear in their hearts proceeded to battle for what they deserved and desired – equality.

In the end, equality can be sought out but not bestowed. Society continues to be a great deliverer of hypocrisy, even campaigning about change and yet it is as shallow as the words that are spoken.

African American women – had to and in some ways still do – fight against adversities for being African American and for being a woman.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you swilliams for the recognition and certainly for the tweet.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very insightful read. The images introduced the detail story line in a flowing and thought provoking manner. Great job! Voted up and tweeted out!

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Lady Guinevere for the comment. I am glad that I could bring to light some very active women in the movements. I like writing about women's rights as we have not yet reached true equality.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Katrina for the recognition. I too did not know about some of these women until I did some research. Very sad that the literature is so sparse when it comes to African American women.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      6 years ago from West By God

      Great article and voted up. I knew about some of these women but you brought some more into the forefront. I do not know if all this about Women's right and such is coming up because I dared to write about something that happened to me recently on HP or that because I wrote about it I am getting more about it. Anyway, thanks for this article.

      As I posted on my hub the Helen Reddy song comes into play: I AM Women.

    • Katrina Speights profile image


      6 years ago from Texas

      This was a very good read! Most people tend to brush this part of history to the side because women were at the forefront. When you actually look back, women were not only major players, in many respects they were the backbone. It's a shame they were excluded from the main women's lib, but I think you will find others there. I hadn't heard many of these names before, thank you for sharing!

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Billybuc I proudly deliver the knowledge I obtain as I think it is important to realize the meaning of racism and how it continues through ignorance. I really enjoyed this one :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A fascinating, and terribly sad, chapter in our history...and it has not been fully written yet. Thank you for raising awareness about this issue, and for the history lesson.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Cecileportilla. I really enjoy researching women's issues as frequently they are either not reported or incorrectly reported.

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 

      6 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Great Hub mdscoggins.

      Thank you for reminding us about the struggles of African American women who are still struggling for equality. The few that are documented fought very hard to earn their place in American history. Voted up!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Amazing people with great minds nice one here.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)