The Remaining Six Women
Top from Left:
Ilhan Omar Rachel Carson Dorothy Day
Bottom from Left: Margaret Sanger Shirley Chisholm Maya Angelou
Ilhan Omar (1981)
Ilhan Omar is the first naturalized citizen from Africa and first Somali American Muslim woman to become a state legislator, and then be elected US Representative for Minnesota’s 5th district.
Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
Rachel Carson was a marine biologist and ardent defender of the enviornment. Her most famous book, Silent Spring, catalogued evidence and research that described the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. According to environmental engineer and Carson scholar H. Patricia Hynes, “Silent Spring altered the balance of power in the world. No one since would be able to sell pollution as the necessary underside of progress so easily or uncritically.”
Dorothy Day (1887-1980)
One of the most famous Catholic Converts, Dorothy Day began life as a bohemian and continued to think radically and independently her entire life. She established the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin, practicing pacifist nonviolent civil disobedience and providing direct aid to the poor and homeless. Dorothy Day was imprisioned several times, the last time at age 75, for her social activism on behalf of suffrage and the poor.
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
Margaret Sanger’s life-long activism came from her belief that in order to have a more equal footing in society and to lead healthier lives, women needed to be able to determine when to bear children. Her efforts focused on legalization of contraception in the United States.
In 1916 she was arrested for distributing information about contraception at the family planning and birth control clinic she opened in Brooklyn. Margaret had two children and was married twice. Her husbands supported her work. Her estranged first husband, William Sanger, was tried and convicted for giving a copy of Sanger’s book, Family Limitation, to a representative of anti-vice politician Anthony Comstock. Her second husband, Noah See, smuggled diaphrams from Canada into New Your in boxes labeled as 3-in-One Oil. He later became the first legal manufacturer of diaphragms in the United States.
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
In 1968 Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. In 1972 she ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination. She did not win, but continued to serve in the US Congress until 1982. She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Her parents were immigrants from British Guiana and Barbados, and, at age 5 she was sent to live with her maternal grandmother in Barbados. Chisholm credited the strict British-style schools of Barbados for the excellence of her early education. She returned to the US and later graduated from Brooklyn College, where she won prizes for her debating skills, and Columbia University.
She held important positions in Congress, using an assignment to the House Agricultural Committee to play a critical role in the creation and expansion of programs to provide food and nutrition to those in need. After her retirement from Congress she resumed her career in education at Mt. Holyoke College, teaching courses that covered politics as it involved women and race.