We’re All Wonder Woman

06/09/2017 12:20 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2017
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Although we may not each have Wonder Woman’s superpowers, we each possess the ability to change the world. Each of the women profiled herein took an action that did indeed lead to significant change. Through passion, determination, and persistence, they made a difference. Each of us can do it, too! Match the women, all of whom have been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, with her accomplishment:

____ 1. Credited as the founder of United Way as well as National Jewish Hospital.

____ 2. Her 1962 book Silent Spring led to a ban on the use of the pesticide DDT and the first Earth Day.

____ 3. Her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is credited with launching the second wave of feminism.

____ 4. Her 1852 book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with its graphic depiction of slavery was said by President Abraham Lincoln to have led to the Civil War.

____ 5. Known as the “mother of the modern civil rights movement,” in 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus.

A. Harriet Beecher Stowe

B. Frances Wisebart Jacobs

C. Rosa Parks

D. Rachel Carson

E. Betty Friedan

Written first as installments for an anti-slavery newspaper, author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, when published as a book in 1852, catapulted her to fame and became a bestseller, sold internationally and translated into more than 60 languages. The graphic depiction of slavery brought the public awareness that it could not escape. Stowe said her grief over the loss of her 18-month son to cholera gave her a better understanding of slave women’s pain when their children were sold. President Abraham Lincoln is rumored to have said upon meeting her “So you are the little lady that started this great war.”

Called the “Mother of Charities” and credited as the founder of United Way, Frances Wisebart Jacobs worked to address many social ills in Denver, Colorado in the late 1800s. She organized the Hebrew Ladies’ Relief Society. She worked to establish the Denver Relief Society. Jacobs worked to set up the first kindergarten for poor parents. In 1887, she was one of the founders of the Charity Organization Society, a predecessor of United Way. Under her leadership, a hospital charter was granted and the cornerstone laid in 1892. Today, National Jewish Hospital is one of the premiere respiratory hospitals in the world.

In 1955, Rosa Parks had had enough. On the way home on the city bus from a tiring day at work as a seamstress, she refused to give up her seat to a white man. She was arrested and her case was heard in court. After her conviction, the leaders of the black community organized a boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama municipal bus system that lasted more than a year and was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The boycott ended when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was unconstitutional. Rosa Parks is called the “mother of the modern civil rights movement.”

Biologist Rachel Carson is best remembered for her 1962 book Silent Spring, which led to the ban on the use of the pesticide DDT and is credited with launching the environmental movement that included the first Earth Day in 1970. Carson spent many years with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries before launching her career as a full-time writer. Her 1951 best seller The Sea Around Us won the U.S. National Book Award. Her many years of concern about the use of synthetic pesticides led to her 1962 bestselling book Silent Spring. Carson received a number of significant awards for this work prior to her death in 1964.

A leading figure in the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Betty Friedan’s work in this area grew out of a survey she took of fellow alums from Smith College. Originally identified as “a problem with no name”, Friedan published her results in a 1963 book The Feminine Mystique. The book is called a catalyst for the second wave of the feminist movement as it described the stifling life that many women were experiencing with the question in their heads of “Is this all?” Friedan’s political and activist work continued for many years, led to the founding of the National Organization for Women, work on the Equal Rights Amendment, and many legislative bills promoting equality of the sexes.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These Wonder Women who changed the world are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell women’s stories and write women back into history. I stand on their shoulders.

(Answers 1-B, 2-D, 3-E, 4-A, 5-C)

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