Did you know that women writers have a significant impact in shaping American history? From Phillis Wheatley’s writings about the Revolutionary War to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, women writers penned many important works that impacted society at large, with many continuing to do so in this present day. For this women’s history month, we at Big Universe want to highlight a few women who’ve used their writing to transform society throughout recent history.
Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani education activist, got her beginning as a ghost blogger for BBC during the Taliban invasion of her region of Pakistan at the encouragement of her father in 2009. Lasting a little more than 2 months, Yousafzai wrote about her life under Taliban control. She described how school, work, and every day life was affected by their takeover. Her series of blog posts brought a human perspective to the conflict, risking her life to do so. She went on to becoming a poltical advocate for education and the youngest Nobel Prize winner to date. This didn’t come without a cost, as she survived an attempted assasination while returning from school1.
Ida B. Wells was a journalist, newspaper editor, and Civil Right activist whose writings on lynching catapulted the practice into international conversation and potentially contributed to the condemnation and decrease in numbers after the 1930s. Although shunned by many in the United States, Wells’ documentation of lynching brought awareness of the horrific murders to those living outside the southern states of the United States. Her faith, bravery and tenacity are constant themes existing throughout her life, risking her career, reputation, and life to call out the hypocrisies of her contemporaries who held prejudiced views, the ills of segregation, and the impact of lynching on the society at large2.
Mercy Otis Warren was a historian and political writer who wrote poems, books, and plays surrounding the politics of the Revolutionary War, something that was uncommon for most people–especially a woman–to do at the time. She also published the first historical account of the American Revolution written by a woman. Using a pseudonym to publish Observations on the new Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions, her later works were published under her own name. Observations seemed to have influenced the Constitution, as some of the things she advocated for appeared in the US Constitution. These rights include freedom of speech and the press, individual rights, term limits, and a jury trial. Originally attributed to another writer at the time, Mercy received her just due after a descendent produced a letter stating that she was indeed the author of this significant work. One of the most remarkable things about Warren’s accomplishments was the fact that she never received formal education3.
These and so many other women used their writing skills to bring attention to pressing matters of their time. We celebrate their accomplishments and stand on their shoulders as all people continue the tradition of writing to make change.
Tell us about a phenomenal woman you will introduce to your students.