Since the very beginning of the civil rights movement, Black women have been at the forefront of the fight for equal rights– from leading the crowds marching through our neighborhood streets to campaigning for elected office– in order to break the confines of the status quo.
As we reflect back on the six decades since the first March on Washington, we owe the progress we’ve made to the tireless activism of Black women like Dr. Dorothy Height, whose unmatched organizing skill and power drew young people to the movement, and Anna Arnold Hedgeman, who ran for Congress and New York City Council President in a bold stand against gender discrimination and poverty. Along with so many others, their relentless pursuit of equal rights advanced the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
Today, though we owe the foundation of our fundamental civil rights to these powerful Black women leaders, their contributions are too often overlooked. They, and others who have been the driving forces for racial justice and societal change – from civil rights and voting rights to abortion rights and so much more – are frequently not recognized by name. As lawmakers work to roll back these long-established rights, the failure to recognize, center, and uplift Black women, their voices and their leadership, is a mistake we cannot afford to make today.