Five Women Whose Bravery Stood In Defiance Of All Expectations

July 26, 2019

The Forten Women

The affluent and politically connected Charlotte Forten taught her daughters Sarah, Margaretta, Harriet, and grandaughter Charlotte by example to use their resources for change. 

The Philadelphia women earned praise in abolitionist circles for how passionately they funded lecture series and political campaigns calling for an end to slavery.


Harriet Tubman

Tubman risked her life and freedom to smuggle enslaved Black people across state lines and the United States-Canada border through trusted Underground Railroad abolitionists. Her strategic role in the Civil War as Union spy, key advisor, and cook was a crucial contribution to America’s future.

St. Croix Rebel Queens

Mary Thomas, Axeline Salomon, and Mathilda Mcbean put the world on notice that no one’s property was safe so long as Black people remained oppressed. They staged fiery protests that destroyed houses, sugar mills, plantations - properties built through forced labor.

Queen Coziah Harmon

Harmon organized nonviolent protests on behalf of her fellow exploited St. Thomas coal mine workers. 

Her strategies informed Martin Luther King, Jr.’s enthusiasm for nonviolent civil disobedience.  

Mary Mahoney

The first licensed Black nurse in America refused to practice medicine publicly - founding the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) instead.

Her rebellion fueled lobbying efforts which forced medical practitioners to address racial discrimination.

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