Women have always been on the front lines when there was trouble. A female could always be counted on to stand up, speak out and fight for what she thought was right. Throughout history women have not only taken the lead at home but on the battle field, picket line, on the seas and in the skies. In March we honor all women and recognize female revolutionaries for Women’s History Month.
Spartan Princess Chelidonis in 280 B.C. served as captain and led the positioning of warriors on the wall resulting in the Siege of Sparta. She fought valiantly with a rope around her neck so that she would not be taken alive.
Queen Nanny, Revolutionary Leader in the 1700’s of the Maroons of Jamaica. She lead rebel slaves in the First Maroon War against the British. The Maroons were a mix of Arawak Indians and Africans. Queen Nanny led in the escape of over 1,000 slaves and the burning of the slave plantations. The British sent army soldiers, militiamen and mercenaries to hunt down Queen Nanny and put an end to the slave uprising. The war against Queen Nanny known as the Maroon War lasted from 1720 to 1733 and a truce was declared in 1739. Queen Nanny was recognized by the Government of Jamaica as a National Hero with the title of “Right Excellent”.
Rani Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi was a leader in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. She was the Queen of the Maratha-ruled Jhansi State located in north-central India. Wanting independence from Britain and an end to the ill-treatment she and her people received, she issued a proclamation to fight for independence. Dressed as a cavalry leader and badly wounded by the British she asked a hermit to burn her body so that it would not be captured by the British. Her body was cremated by the local people. Her death was reported by the British military was that Rani Lakshmibai is the most dangerous of all Indian leaders.
Female Students who joined the 17th of November 1967 Philadelphia School Board Demonstration There were many courageous female high school students who joined a demonstration in front of the School District of Philadelphia’s Board of Education Building. Female students such as Julia Jackson marched for equality in public education and learning; updated textbooks; the right to take college preparatory courses; not be to be tracked into vocational courses; not to be limited to “working with your hands”; to be prepared to go to college; and to include Black history in the curriculum. Instead the students were met with Billy clubs, night sticks, horses, beatings, hospitalizations, life-long injuries and arrests. In 2005, thirty-eight years later, African American history was finally incorporated into the curriculum. However, students today continue to lack teachers, counselors, nurses, books and diversity in the curriculum.
Alicia Garza, Opai Tometi and Patrisse Cullors in 2013 co-founded #Black Lives Matter that grew out of a response to the George Zimmerman acquittal after the Trayvon Martin murder. These women are speaking out for Black queers, transgenders, and undocumented, disabled and against racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration of African Americans and the militarization of American police departments. Also in 2013 the women of #SayHerName movement brings attention to the rape, physical abuse, unfair treatment and murder of African American women by police and other law enforcement personnel and to make sure that Black women are no longer ignored.
These and many more revolutionary women had the courage and the vision to stand up for their rights and the rights of others..