Know Your History: Jeannette Rankin

By Kyla Bender-Baird

As most of you know, March is Women’s History Month--a month dedicated to remembering all those amazing female figures too often left out of history textbooks. Do you know who your foremothers are? One of NCRW’s member centers, the Women’s Media Center, has been featuring exclusives on notable women all month. This week’s feature on Jeannette Rankin brought me back to high school and my early days of feminist awakenings.

Yes, back then I would frown at anyone who dared call me a feminist and subsequently enter into an awkward conversation on how I love women but I don’t “love” women…I mean…uh…. Yeah, I was smooth. Fast forward a decade and here I am, working at the National Council for Research on Women, possessing a master’s degree in Women’s Studies, and prominently displaying more than one feminist badge on my bulletin board. Oh the ironies…

But I digress. One of the first times I realized that women were written out of history textbooks was when my friend told me about Jeannette Rankin. As the WMC article says,

Rankin co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union, voted against U.S. entry into World War I and was the only Congress member to vote against the entering World War II. Rankin remained active until her death in 1973 at 92, leading a group of women in a protest against the Vietnam War and staying connected to the women’s movement.

So why had I never heard of her?

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, it’s important to remember all those amazing women who have come before us—especially the ones we’re not taught about in school. In our U.S. youth-obsessed culture that too often forgets its history, it takes extra effort to remember where we’ve come from. And this includes our foremothers of social change. Every day women are making a difference in this world. Let’s take a moment to remember our political past as well as our personal histories, including our own feminist awakenings.

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