Her’s Day Thursday

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The other night, I was watching PBS (a nightly ritual before I go to bed…sheesh, how old am I?!) and a local program came on, highlighting influential women in history that were from Oklahoma. One of them was Kate Barnard.

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Catherine Ann “Kate” Barnard was born in Geneva, Nebraska in 1875. After her mother passed away when she was little, her father sent her to live with relatives and he joined the Land Run in Oklahoma. After staking his claim, Kate journeyed to Oklahoma to live with her father. In 1895, she attended a Catholic school and earned a teaching certificate, teaching until 1902.

When she quit teaching, Kate took a business course and became a secretary for the territorial legislature. She was chosen to represent Oklahoma at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. It was there that she met Jane Addams and other social reformers. This was the first time Kate had been exposed to city life, and experienced first-hand the slums and terrible living conditions the poor had to endure. When she returned to Oklahoma, she was determined to help bring about social change.

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She threw herself into aid and charity work, participating in Farm Labor meetings and even being elected the Charities and Corrections Commissioner. Through her appointment, she enacted essential education laws, helped create programs to support poor widows, and a state ban on child labor. Kate also advocated for safe working conditions and the eradication of “blacklisting” union members. She was also a voice for abused Native American children. Through her incredible speeches, she was able to convince politicians that there was a deep need to increase federal protection for members of the Five Tribes. Her most notable achievement has been noted as uncovering the abuse of Oklahoma prisoners being held in Kansas. Kate discovered the prisoners were being subjected to torture and forced labor in coal mines. Because of her findings, it forced the governor to return the prisoners to Oklahoma and resulted in the building of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlister.

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Kate’s political career ended during her second term in office. She fought so diligently for the needs of Native Americans who were being cheated out of their land. Because of her devotion to righting this wrong, she made many enemies, including William H. Murray who convinced the state legislature to defund her office. In her book, A Chief and Her People, Wilma Mankiller quoted Kate: “I have been compelled to see orphans robbed, starved, and burned for money. I have named the men and accused them and furnished the records and affidavits to convict them, but with no result. I decided long ago that Oklahoma had no citizen who cared whether or not an orphan is robbed or starved or killed – because his dead claim is easier to handle than if he were alive.”

Kate died in 1930, due to many lingering health problems and was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982.

Thank you, Kate, for your amazing work for Oklahoma!

 

 

 

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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Though it is very historic that, this year, a woman has become her party’s candidate for the presidential election, another woman holds the title of first woman to run for President of the United States. That distinction goes to today’s leading lady: Victoria Claflin Woodhull.

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Victoria was born in 1838 in rural Ohio, the seventh of ten children, to Roxanna and Reuben Claflin. Her mother was illiterate and her father was an abusive con man, making his money as a snake oil salesman. When she was just a few days past her fifteenth birthday, Victoria married her first husband with whom she had two children. She later divorced him, finding out he was an alcoholic and womanizer. Back in the 1850’s, divorce was scandalous and was much stigmatized for the woman. This catapulted Victoria into becoming a voice for women who were forced to stay in loveless and often abusive marriages.

Victoria began working to support herself and her children as well as fighting for women’s rights. She and her sister, Tennessee, became the first female stock brokers in 1870, and opened their own firm. Victoria ended up making a fortune on stocks and helped Cornelius Vanderbilt make his millions.

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Victoria decided to amp up her fight to gain the right to vote for herself and all American women. She testified before a House Judiciary Committee and argued that the 14th and 15th Amendments already gave women the power to vote, they just needed to act on it. She pointed out that the Amendments protected the right to vote for all citizens. After this, Victoria was sought out by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Isabella Beecher Hooker to become a part of their movement that was gaining momentum.

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That same year, Victoria and her sister founded a newspaper—Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly. Most of the articles focused on women’s issues of the day such as suffrage and women’s education. However, it has become best known for exposing the hypocrisy of Pastor Henry Ward Beecher who preached fidelity in his masses, but was secretly having an affair with a church member. The article prompted criminal charges to be filed against Beecher and a trial (which ended in a hung jury) soon followed.

Victoria was nominated for president in 1872 by the Equal Rights Party, with Frederick Douglass named as her running mate. (Douglass never commented on the nomination.) Victoria and her sister were arrested the day before the election for “publishing an obscene newspaper” because of the story on Beecher’s affair. They were held for a month in jail, thus preventing Victoria from attempting to vote in the election. Unshaken, Victoria continued her fight for women’s equality and ran for president years later in 1884 and 1892.

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Victoria fought for women and for their voices to be heard until her dying day. She truly has earned the title of Kick-A Woman in History!

Her’s Day Thursday

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If you’ve read my blog at all, you know that I love to write about strong women. Especially strong women that have paved the way for future generations in lines of work that are predominantly male. So when I saw this trailer, I literally got goosebumps!

 

 

The film, Hidden Figures, tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson (a physicist, space scientist, and mathematician, respectively); three incredible women who used their brain power to help the Project Mercury mission (aka, the mission in which John Glenn orbited the Earth)  a success. Not only did these women break massive ground for women in STEM fields, but also for women of color.

(The film is actually an adaption of a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. Read more about it here!)

 

 

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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The other day, I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across an interesting article. The headline was something along the lines of: “Do You Know What These Tattoos Really Mean?” Intrigued, I clicked and read the article.

 

The pictures of tattoos that were shown were on various women and they all had the same theme: a crown with a man’s name on it. At first I thought it was just tattoos from relationships that had ended. Sadly, it was much worse than that. The tattoos these girls were sporting were not just tattoos, they were brands.

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You see, every one of these women were survivors of sex trafficking. The tattoos were forms of letting other “pimps” know that the girls were already “claimed”. Not only had these girls been through something so tragic, but now they were carrying physical signs of that bondage.

 

Enter, Jennifer Kempton.

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Jennifer is a survivor of sex trafficking. She, too, had a tattoo on her neck, that showed who she was “owned” by. After she escaped that world, Jennifer worked through her painful past, but still felt the weight that tattoo had on her. She decided to get it covered up and changed into something that represented how she felt now—a butterfly; ready to spread her wings and soar!

 

After she went through the process of changing her tattoo, she realized that she was not the only one who had gone through such a terrible period in her life. She wanted to help others, so she created Survivor’s Ink.

 

Survivor’s Ink is a non-profit organization that gives financial assistance to those affected by sex slavery. They help women get their tattoos removed (an expensive procedure) or pay for their tattoos to be covered and changed into something beautiful and empowering!

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I didn’t realize until I had read the article just how much sex trafficking really happens in America today. Many think it can’t happen here; that’s just in the movies. This is a naïve assumption.

 

According to Equality Now:

“Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. This, despite the fact international law and the laws of 134 countries criminalize sex trafficking.

  • At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor.
  • About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade.
  • Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation.
  • Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.”

 

Sadly, Oklahoma is major hub for sex trafficking. Because there are three major interstates in Oklahoma, and its location in the middle of the nation, sex trafficking is rampant here.

 

This year alone, there have been 85 tips given to possible sex trafficking rings in the state and 21 cases of sex trafficking have been reported. The majority of the cases involved adult women, who were U.S. nationals.

 

According to Dayspringvilla.com, the traffickers or “recruiters” look for “troubled girls, many of whom have been physically or sexually assaulted at home. These girls are lured into the world of sexual trafficking with promises of money, designer clothes and exotic travel only to discover they owe a debt that can never be satisfied. Others are drugged and abducted, never to be seen again.”

 

The way to stop sexual slavery is to speak up, be aware, and help where you can. We need to be the voices for these girls. They are someone’s daughter, sister, mother, aunt, cousin, and friend. Be bold, just like Jennifer Kempton.

Her’s Day Thursday

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While looking up info on the web today, I caught a glimpse of today’s Google Doodle. Wondering what it was about, I clicked on the image to learn more. And boy, am I glad I did! Because I found today’s kick-a woman for Her’s Day Thursday, Ida B. Wells!

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Ida B. Wells was born July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi just before Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. Her parents were slaves but recently freed from the proclamation. Ida’s father was very interested in politics and campaigned for black candidates. This spurred Ida’s passion to fight for civil rights.

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Her parents and little brother died during a yellow fever outbreak when she was just 16 years old, leaving her and her other five siblings orphaned with nowhere to go. Ida’s relatives wanted to split the children up between foster homes, but Ida wouldn’t stand for that. She started working as a teacher to provide for her family. She saw discrimination first hand in the segregated school when she realized her white counterparts were paid $80 a month, while she only made $30.

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Lit with a fire of indignation at the social systems in place, she started working as an investigative journalist to uncover cruelties against African Americans. Ida uncovered the ugly truth about lynchings, after three of her friends were brutally murdered for crimes they didn’t commit. She wrote many articles about injustices against the black community and fought hard for civil rights. Her activism ruffled feathers, causing the newspaper she worked out to be destroyed. But she didn’t let ignorance from others stop her; she kept going! She worked with many notable leaders of the day, including Frederick Douglass, to promote civil rights for blacks and voting rights for women.

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Remember today’s “doodle” isn’t just about a neat picture, its about a great woman who fought hard for the rights of her people and her gender.

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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Today’s HDT cool chick is half my age but has already lived a lifetime!

 

Malala Yousafzai was born in July 1997 in Pakistan. At the time, her family ran a chain of schools in the region. When Malala was around 11 years old, she wrote a blog for the BBC that told all about her life under Taliban rule.

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She spoke of the terrorist group trying to take control of the area and the brutal treatment of women and those who would not comply to the Taliban’s orders. She frequently spoke out in favor of girl’s education and opposed the Taliban.

 

Malala gained more media attention as she participated in interviews and conferences. She was even nominated by Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize.

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On October 9, 2012, Malala got on her school bus to go home when a man also boarded the bus. He asked for Malala by name, pointed his gun at her, and fired three times. One bullet hit Malala on the left side of her forehead. She remained unconscious and in critical condition for days. When she improved, she was sent to England to receive care and rehabilitation.

 

Malala miraculously improved and got right back into her activism. She spoke in front of the United Nations in 2013, she spoke at Harvard University, and met the president, confronting him on his use of drone strikes in Pakistan. In July 2014, she talked at the Girl Summit in London, a conference that advocates rights for girls.

Malala Yousafzai, 16-year-old Pakistani campaigner for the education of women, speaks during a news conference with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (not pictured), celebrating International Day of the Girl in Washington October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

When Malala turned 17, she was co-awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize (the youngest ever) for her resistance against the oppression of children and young people and for fighting for the right for all children to have an education. She shared the prize with a children’s rights activist from India.

 

A movie about her life, He Named Me Malala, is scheduled for release in the United States on October 2, 2015. Watch the trailer below!

Her’s Day Thursday

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Earlier this week, I opened my browser and saw the CUTEST Google Doodle:

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The doodle was for Sally Ride‘s birthday and I thought, “Hey! Now I have my Her’s Day Thursday lady!”

Sally Kristen Ride was was born on May 26, 1951 in Los Angeles, CA to a women’s correctional facility counselor and a political science professor. Sally always had a heart for science and earned her bachelor’s degree (and later her master’s and Ph.D.) in English and Physics.

In 1978, Sally saw an advertisement in the Stanford school newspaper seeking people for the space program. Sally was one of 8,000 applicants and was chosen to join NASA as an astronaut.

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Being the first female astronaut, Sally faced a lot of scrutiny. During a press conference before her first space flight in 1983, Ride was asked, “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?” (Really? Really?) But Sally faced it with grace. She went on to totally rock her position aboard the Challenger and became the first American woman in space, the first woman to use the robot arm in space, AND the first woman to use the robot arm to retrieve a satellite! (Take that, Howard Wolowitz!)

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Before her third mission, tragedy struck close to Ride. The Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff in 1986. After that, Ride was stationed in Washington D.C., and appointed to a presidential committee that investigated the disaster. Ride went on to found NASA’s Office of Exploration.

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In 2003, Sally founded Sally Ride Science, an organization that produces science entertainment and publications to help get middle and high school students (especially girls) excited about science!

Sadly, Sally passed in 2012, less than two years after receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Though she is gone, her legacy will live on and inspire young girls to believe in their dreams and keep shooting for the stars!

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