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Eight Badass Bitches In History You Haven’t Heard Of— But Should Have

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When I started to research this topic, I was saddened to discover that a lot of these women I had never heard of. I certainly wasn’t taught about Sybil Ludington or Daisy Bates in school. I sure did learn a whole lot about Paul Revere and Dr. King, though. These women faced adversity head-on without compromising their principles. They were fearless. They were badass bitches.

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Lucy Stone was born in 1818. Why should you care about a woman born almost two hundred years ago? Lucy Stone was one of the most important workers for the suffrage movement and was a prominent abolitionist. She was the first woman to graduate college in Massachutes and the first person to be cremated in New England. Fun Fact: she was the first woman to keep her maiden name after getting married.

 

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Sybil Ludington was a true badass. We all know about Paul Revere’s great ride, but Sybil rode twice as far to warn the local militias. As the story is told, she fought off highway robbers in the process. Because of her heroics, the militiamen were prepared for the British at the Battle of Ridgefield.

 

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Shirley Chisholm made history by becoming the United States' first African-American congresswoman in 1968. She went on to serve seven terms in the House of Representatives. She was originally assigned to the House Forestry Committee, which we know is bullshit, so she demanded reassignment. She made her voice heard and was transferred to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and later graduated to the Education and Labor Committee. If that wasn’t badass enough, she went on to become the first African-American woman to officially make a run for President of the United States in 1972.

 

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Emily Roebling has her own museum, but sadly I bet a lot of you have never heard of her. I’ll give you a hint, she helped build the Brooklyn Bridge— if that isn’t badass, I don’t know what badass is! After her husband became bedridden during the construction of the bridge, she took over as Chief Engineer. She designed her family’s home and organized relief for the troops returning from the Spanish-American war. The next time I think I am busy, I will think of Emily.

 

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Catharine Esther Beecher was an elementary school teacher most notably known for her work with female educators. She believed women were inherently made to teach. She was an anti-suffragist, whe believed that women should not be involved in politics. What makes her badass? She spoke out and changed how we teach our youngest students. Kindergarten, as we know it today, is because of Catharine. Although her views seem less bad ass, her contribution to our education system is totally bad ass.


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Daisy Bates' early life was marred with the tragic murder of her mother. Some might say that propelled her life into the Civil Rights Movement down in her home state of Arkansas. Daisy and her husband started the Arkansas State Press. It was the first weekly African-American newspaper focusing on civil rights. She was on the front line as the Little Rock Nine was fighting segregation in 1957. Later she worked closely with the Lyndon B. Johnson administration on anti-poverty projects.

 

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Sara Jane Lippincott was better known as Grace Greenwood. She was the first woman writer on The New York Times payroll. She used her status to advocate for women’s rights and social reform. Oh, and she copyedited Harriet Beacher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. President Lincoln commended her for her abolitionist work. In my opinion, she is badass because she also fought for fair wages among writers. Thanks, Sara!

 

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Myrlie Louise Evers–Williams is a civil rights activist. After her husband, Medgar Evers, was murdered, she worked for over thirty years to bring his murderer to justice. She was also chairwoman of the NAACP and published several books on topics related to civil rights and wrote her autobiography, Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be.

If it weren’t for these women and thousands of other trailblazers, we wouldn’t collectively be the bad ass bitches that we are today. We have a woman running for President, women in Congress and (still) have the right to decide our own healthcare. We have more choices today than we ever had before. We are scientists, engineers, housewives and pilots. We are doctors and mothers. We are teachers, CEOs and construction workers. But our work is not done. If these badass bitches were alive today, they would tell us that there is a lot more work to be done. (Myrlie Louise Evers–Williams is still alive and well; she earned her rest). We need to keep fighting the good fight. We need to continue the legacy of these badass bitches in history.

Images via PostImg, NPRFine Art AmericaNWHM.orgMadam EnoireWikimedia Commons2paragraphs

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Laura Birks is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. She is a regular contributor for Twiniversity.com and has been featured on Scarymommy.com, RoleReboot.com, as well as others.  She finds life with twin boys and a husband to be messy and slightly dangerous.  She is a feminist raising a tiny army of men.

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