As Cheddar celebrates phenomenal women during the month of March, we're taking a second to highlight a few trailblazers who have helped shape the world we live in. These women have taken on voting rights and social justice and have changed the course of history.
Seraph Young Ford
Born in 1846, Seraph Young Ford was the first woman in U.S. history to cast a ballot. Young Ford was a school teacher looking to cast her vote just before school went into session on Valentine's Day in 1870.
Just two days after the Utah Territory legislature passed a law allowing women the opportunity to vote, Young Ford would participate in the Salt Lake City municipal election, which helped set the stage for the 19th amendment granting women suffrage nationwide.
Born in 1896, Lyda Conley was the first Native American woman to argue a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The trailblazing attorney fought to protect the Huron Indian Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas where members of her Wyandot tribe were buried.
Conley argued that developers were violating the treaty signed between the government and the Wyandot people. Conley went on to lose the case but was eventually successful in her fight to protect the grounds after a Kansas state senator helped to pass a law blocking development of the burial ground.
Mae Frances Moultrie Howard
Mae Frances Moultrie Howard is credited as being the first Black woman to join in on the inaugural Freedom Ride that toured the Southern U.S. in protest of segregated bus and rail stations.
That first tour into Alabama saw the group of Freedom Riders attacked by a violent mob who shot out tires, broke windows, and even hurled a bomb onto the bus. Moultrie Howard suffered severe smoke inhalation, but the hospital where she was treated did not allow her, or the rest of her group, to stay for overnight care. She would continue advocating for civil rights despite the response.
Patsy Mink began her life’s work as an activist in college after realizing her dormitory was segregated and only housed students of color. She would organize and lobby to successfully end the practice.
She would eventually go on to become the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, serving for six straight terms. The Congresswoman would help pass major civil rights legislation such as Title IX and the Women’s Educational Equality Act.
Huerta began fighting for migrant farmer workers' rights in 1955 when she co-founded the Community Service Organization in Stockton, California, pushing efforts on voter registration and the economic advancements of Latinos.
She would eventually work with labor leader Cesar Chavez to launch the National Farm Workers Association, now known as the United Farm Workers union. Huerta and the group organized with Filipino farmworkers in 1965 to launch the successful Delano grape strike and boycott where 5,000 laborers protested for better work conditions and better work opportunities.
Ever the activist, Huerta found herself arrested nearly two dozen times over her career for civil disobedience and for protesting.
Video produced by Megan Pratz, Aly Ellis, and Bella Santos. Article written by Lawrence Banton.
This the one in a series of videos highlighting women of history. Check out more on Facebook and Twitter.