Remember the Ladies: African-American Women and the Fight for Rights

When studying African American history or developing events for African American history month, many focus on notable people such as Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King or John Lewis. And their accomplishments are certainly worth studying and celebrating! However, to borrow from a letter Abigail Adams sent to her husband during the Revolutionary War, we should also “remember the ladies” who stood shoulder to shoulder with the men on the front lines and sometimes took leadership roles.

One of the Free to Use and Reuse sets of public domain images features African American Women Changemakers. The women included in this have played major roles in the fight for civil and voting rights, in the fine and performing arts, and in the classroom or academic community.

Images from the Free to Use and Reuse set of African American Changemakers

Use these questions, along with items from the set, to stimulate a discussion on the role of African American women in history:

  • Ask students: What roles have women played in major historical events? Consider how these women contributed to the success of these historical events.
  • Encourage students to think about why these women may not be included in their text books.
  • Ask them to consider what makes a person a changemaker.
  • What would they like to know about the women included in this set of changemakers?
  • Why do they think these women were documented through photographs, when in many cases they did not have the same rights as the men they worked with?
  • Allow time for students to research African American history. Who would they include in a collection of African American women changemakers? Why should they be included?

Want to include more information about African American women changemakers in your African American history month activities? Explore these posts from the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog:

How will you help your students “remember the ladies” during this African American History month?

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