Neil J. Smith

Important Women in the Civil Rights Movement

Undoubtedly, African American women played an essential role in the Civil Rights Movement. Without their passion, commitment, and braveryliberation would remain a pipedream.

Here are just some women to recognize:

  1. Septima Poinsette Clark (1898–1987)

She was known as the “Mother of the American Civil Rights Movement.” As a teacher and advocate for education, Clark was a member of the NAACP and was involved in petitioning for hiring African American teachers in Charleston, South Carolina. She also created the Citizenship Education Program in the hopes of helping many African Americans to vote.

  1. Ella Baker (1903–1986)

She served as a temporary director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As a bridge leader, she connected participants with formal power modes, thus providing community access to power. She also serves as the inspiring force behind the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) formation.

  1. Daisy Bates (1914–1999)

Daisy Bates started her newspaper, “The Arkansas Weekly,” which served as one of the only African American newspaper focused on the Civil Rights Movement. She also served as the President of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), playing a vital role in desegregating public schools.

  1. Diane Nash (1938–)

During her years as a university student at Fisk University, Diane began to find ways to protest against segregation. After meeting Rev. James Lawson, she found a way through nonviolent means. After she was appointed leader of the Nashville Student Movement, she:

  • Negotiated the right to desegregate lunch counters;
  • Organized a boycott of downtown stores;
  • Organized sit-ins within restaurants
  • Organized a massive march in the form of a protest in Nashville to City Hall.

She also served as a Freedom Rider, challenging the notion of segregated public buses.

With these key figures in mind, there is no doubt that women played a crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement. Thanks to their contribution, their names are forever a part of history.

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