Women's History Month Porterville College

Social Justice Campaign

Why do we celebrate women's history Month?

Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society and has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987. Women’s History Month 2021 will take place from Monday, March 1-Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Women’s History Month is a dedicated month to reflect on the often-overlooked contributions of women to United States history. From Abigail Adams to Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth to Rosa Parks, the timeline of women’s history milestones stretches back to the founding of the United States.

Origins of Women's History Month

The actual celebration of Women’s History Month grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society organized by the school district of Sonoma, California, in 1978. Presentations were given at dozens of schools, hundreds of students participated in a “Real Woman” essay contest and a parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa.

A few years later, the idea had caught on within communities, school districts and organizations across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. The U.S. Congress followed suit the next year, passing a resolution establishing a national celebration. Six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.

Knowing the Past Opens the Door to the Future. The Continuing Importance of Women's History Month.

From raising families to leading armies, women such as Catherine the Great, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Elizabeth I, Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie and countless others have played a vital role in human civilization.

19th Amendment

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as women’s suffrage, and was ratified on August 18, 1920, ending almost a century of protest. In 1848, the movement for women’s rights launched on a national level with the Seneca Falls Convention, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mot.

Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Stanton and Mott, along with Susan B. Anthony and other activists, raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. After a lengthy battle, these groups finally emerged victorious with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Despite the passage of the amendment and the decades-long contributions of Black women to achieve suffrage, poll taxes, local laws and other restrictions continued to block women of color from voting. Black men and women also faced intimidation and often violent opposition at the polls or when attempting to register to vote. It would take more than 40 years for all women to achieve voting equality.


Feminism, a belief in the political, economic and cultural equality of women, has roots in the earliest eras of human civilization. It is typically separated into three waves: first wave feminism, dealing with property rights and the right to vote; second wave feminism, focusing on equality and anti-discrimination, and third wave feminism, which started in the 1990s as a backlash to the second wave’s perceived privileging of white, straight women.

From Ancient Greece to the fight for women’s suffrage to women’s marches and the #MeToo movement, the history of feminism is as long as it is fascinating.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt's work for women began long before her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidency. After joining the Women's Trade Union League in 1922, she introduced Franklin to friends like Rose Schneiderman, which helped him to understand the needs of female workers.

In the political arena, Eleanor coordinated women's activities during Al Smith's 1928 run for president and later worked on her husband's presidential campaigns. When Franklin won the White House, Eleanor used her new position to support women's interests; even the press conferences she held for female reporters helped them in their jobs.

Eleanor continued to be an advocate for women after Franklin's death. She spoke out about the need for equal pay during John F. Kennedy's administration.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm is best known for her 1972 bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination; she was the first Black woman to make this attempt in a major political party. However, she had been active in state and national politics for more than a decade and had represented parts of Brooklyn in the New York State Assembly from 1965 to 1968.

She became the first Black woman to serve in Congress in 1968. During her tenure, she co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus. Chisholm left Washington in 1983 and devoted the rest of her life to civil rights and women's issues.

10 of the Most Important Black Women in U.S. History

Sacagawea: The Woman Who Made Lewis and Clark a Success

A Shoshone Indian born circa 1788, Sacagawea was kidnapped by the Hidatsa when she was around 12 years old. Eventually, she and another captive were acquired by and married to Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian trader.

When Charbonneau was hired as a translator for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark also wanted to take advantage of Sacagawea’s linguistic knowledge (she could speak both Shoshone and Hidatsa). Sacagawea set out with the expedition on April 7, 1805, only two months after giving birth. She took her son, Jean Baptiste, on the journey, where the presence of mother and child was an indisputable asset — as war parties didn’t take along women and children, the group wasn’t seen as a threat by the tribes they encountered.

Sacagawea assisted the expedition in other ways: When a panicked Charbonneau almost capsized a boat, she saved navigational tools, supplies and important papers. She was able to locate edible and medicinal roots, plants and berries. The landmarks she remembered also proved useful in their travels.

When the group returned to the Hidatsa-Mandan villages in 1806, Sacagawea didn’t receive any pay (her husband got $500, as well as 320 acres of land). Clark acknowledged the unfairness of this in an 1806 letter to Charbonneau:

“Your woman who accompanied you that long dangerous and fatigueing rout to the Pacific Ocian and back diserved a greater reward for her attention and services on that rout than we had in our power to give her....”

5 Powerful and Influential Native American Women

Sonia Sotomayor

A Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic American to serve as a member of the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor was born in 1954 in the New York City borough, where she grew up in a predominantly Catholic and Puerto Rican community. She quickly made education a priority through her mother’s insistence after her dad died when she was 9 years old.

The future judge went on to graduate valedictorian from high school and earned a full scholarship to Princeton University. She graduated in 1976 after establishing herself as a student advocate, working hard to ensure Princeton began hiring Latin American faculty. She went on to Yale Law School and graduated in 1979, earning her acceptance to the New York Bar the next year.

After working for over four years as an assistant district attorney in New York and stepping away to work in private practice, Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 and to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

Twelve years later, Sotomayor made history when President Barack Obama picked her as his first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009.

Sonia Sotomayor and 9 Other Latina Pioneers of the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries

Patsy Mink

Not only was Patsy Mink the first Asian American woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1964, she was also the first woman from an ethnic minority group to make it into the elite lawmaking body. Mink spent four decades in the House of Representatives, speaking out in favor of the rights of immigrants, minorities, women, and children.

She was also one of the major players involved in getting Title IX—the legislation that brought academic and athletic equity to American educational institutions—passed. In 1972, she became the first Asian American woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Find out 57 other famous female firsts.

Celebrating Asian American Women

Women’s History Milestones: A Timeline

From a plea to a founding father, to the suffragettes to Title IX, to the first female political figures, women have blazed a steady trail towards equality in the United States.

July 19-20, 1848: In the first women’s rights convention organized by women, the Seneca Falls Convention is held in New York, with 300 attendees, including organizers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Sixty-eight women and 32 men (including Frederick Douglass) sign the Declaration of Sentiments, which sparked decades of activism, eventually leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.

May 29, 1851: A former slave turned abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Sojourner Truth delivers her famous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. “And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne 13 children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?”

Dec. 10, 1869: The legislature of the territory of Wyoming passes America’s first woman suffrage law, granting women the right to vote and hold office. In 1890, Wyoming is the 44th state admitted to the Union and becomes the first state to allow women the right to vote.

Aug. 18, 1920: Ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is completed, declaring “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” It is nicknamed “The Susan B. Anthony Amendment” in honor of her work on behalf of women’s suffrage.

Dec. 1, 1955: Black seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. The move helps launch the civil rights movement.

June 10, 1963: President John F. Kennedy signs into law the Equal Pay Act, prohibiting sex-based wage discrimination between men and women performing the same job in the same workplace.

June 23, 1972: Title IX of the Education Amendments is signed into law by President Richard Nixon. It states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

January 20, 2021: Kamala Harris is sworn in as the first woman and first woman of color vice president of the United States. "While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last," Harris said after getting elected in November.

Women’s History Milestones: A Timeline

Social Justice Campaign

Why Is Social Justice Important?

Social justice promotes fairness and equity across many aspects of society. For example, it promotes equal economic, educational and workplace opportunities. It’s also important to the safety and security of individuals and communities.

Porterville College is committed to maintaining an equal learning and working environment for all. If you have experienced or witnessed acts of racism, discrimination, or social injustice, please report it. The below guide will help you find the appropriate office and contact information:

Unlawful Discrimination:

A complaint of alleged unlawful discrimination may be filed within one year of the alleged discrimination. For complaint forms or additional information, contact one of the following:

Additional inquiries pertaining to federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws, and the governing board policies of Porterville College or Kern Community College District (KCCD Board Policy Section 11-D) may be directed to the following office:

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct:

Porterville College is committed to fostering a learning environment that is safe, conducive to academic success and supportive of healthy personal development for all members of the campus community. Everyone at Porterville College shares responsibility for maintaining this environment by following university policies and exemplifying respect for others.

Additional Resources:

Created By
Todd Dearmore