A Millennial Montage to Women in History
March 2019 Issue
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen
March 1st marks the start of Women’s History Month.
This month-long celebration recognizes and celebrates women who have made their mark and made a difference. We look to icons such as Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa as some of the greatest and thank them for the incredible acts they accomplished in their lifetime. There are so many women, in both the distant and recent past, who blazed new paths and paved the way for the generations of today. It is the collective effort of all those powerful women before us, who collected their courage in the face of fear to serve as forces, role models and voices for women and girls all over the world.
An idea was sparked in our monthly creative meeting—a different kind of feature to celebrate women in history. Having an instant clear vision, I quickly asked to champion this project. My spin: Make it from the prospective of my generation—us dreaded, entitled millennials. You know us—those young girls who really don’t look back because we are too glued to our phones.
But alas, we are paying attention! My contemporaries, 19 to 22-year-old young ladies, rose to the occasion with heartfelt dedication and passion. Don’t worry about us letting women down, we have a voice and it is strong.
I reached out to ten of my friends and asked them to choose their favorite woman in history and write 250 words describing how she has made a difference, or an impact, on their lives. The reactions to this offer were astounding. “I would be honored.” “Thank you, I’m so excited!” and “Thank you for letting me be apart of this.” were just a couple texts I received in response.
The women before us were so incredibly important to the world we live in today, for they are the ones who have kicked open the doors for women to be all they can be. You can count on my generation to stand up and keep moving us forward, but for now, we want to simply thank, remember and honor every woman who has gotten us here, for they deserve it, they humble us, and we promise to keep the torch glowing.
Hometown: Hilton Head Island, SC | Age: 20
Attending: The Technical College of the Lowcountry (currently); plans to Attend
The University of South Carolina in the fall 2019 and study Visual Communications.
Sitting quietly in my Western Civilization class, I listened to my professor’s stories about history. He began to tell us about Jeanne D’arc. My first thought: Who? I’ve never heard of her. Not so. Jeanne D’arc is famously known as Joan of Arc. Born in 1412 in Doremy, France, Joan of Arc lived life as a normal child until age 17, when she started having visions and hearing voices from Christian saints about her responsibility to help the soon-to-be-crowned King Charles VII. She went to Charles and asked to be in the army, which was unheard of for women. The battle was Siege of Orleans, a smaller war in the Hundred Years War period, and Joan wasn’t just a soldier. She led the French Army to victory. This was monumental for France, for it led to the eventual win of the Hundred Years War, and Charles VII was crowned due to her success.
In 1430, while leading an expedition, Joan was captured by the Bourguignons and sold to the English. The English accused her of being a heretic and a witch. She was convicted and burned at the stake at age 19.
Joan is considered one of the greatest heroes in French History. I’m empowered by her because she showed extreme power and strength. She believed in herself when no one else did, followed her intuition, and took leadership in a role no one thought she could, or should, be in. She went against the grain and reached for the stars, all at the age of 17. She also died for her country, and her King, making her loyal, as well. Joan shows characteristics I strive to have everyday and she makes me want to step up and be powerful. They say if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Joan of Arc was an extraordinary woman because she stood firmly in who she was, regardless of what others thought. I am thankful my professor brought her to my attention. May we all learn from and live like Joan.
Hometown: Hilton Head Island, SC | Age: 19 | Attends: Clemson University, Psychology
Aretha Franklin is a very important woman in history, who passed away last year. My dad introduced me to her, and I have loved her music ever since. She had a powerful voice, both on and off stage, which she used beautifully to convey messages through her songs. Her music brought people together during a time of hate. She taught in her music that love is more powerful than hate. Aretha was hugely popular during the Civil Rights Movement, and one of her most popular songs, “Respect,” became an anthem during that time. Even though she was not a major activist during the Civil Rights Movement, she held her own and preached her message through music, singing with passion and emotion, and giving more power to her music than most other artists.
Aretha sang at three presidential inaugurations, which was rare to do as a woman, let alone a woman of color. In 1987, Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She pushed boundaries and overcame obstacles. Aretha Franklin is a role model to me. She inspires me to push for what I believe in and not give up when obstacles stand in my way. Her music will always make me think of my father, and I’m happy that he shared his love of music with me. Her song, “Natural Woman,” is my favorite and will forever be on my playlist.
Caroline Logan Cherry
Hometown: Bluffton, SC | Age: 20
Attends: University of South Carolina, Journalism
“Don’t be afraid to break a few rules,” my mother, a notorious rule follower, said over lunch last week. “Thanks for telling me now,” I replied, “I could’ve had some fun these past 20 years.” While this statement unexpectedly came from MY mom, it was something I needed to hear. Many have heard the famous quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Journalist Margaret Fuller was one of these women, pushing boundaries, refusing to stay in her place. She was a force at a time when writing and journalism was mainly a boys’ club. In the 1880s, Fuller faced editors who tried to relegate her to the society pages. Instead she wrote frankly and honestly about political and social issues. She was a strong feminist, who encouraged women to reach beyond being domestic housewives, an extremely controversial idea back then. Fuller didn’t let controversy get to her—something I’ve always admired. As I close the life chapter of my college career and open a new one in the working world, I realize journalists like Margaret Fuller fought the good fight for equal opportunity. In the twenty-first century, women like me won’t have to fight so hard to be given respect. She inspires me to write fearlessly and pursue truth, always staying true to my own voice and ambitions. For this I feel it’s time to say thanks for breaking the rules, Margaret.
Hometown: Hilton Head Island, SC | Age: 22
Graduated 2018: University of South Carolina Beaufort, Sociology Degree
Entrepreneur: Co-Owner of Rugged K-9 Training, LLC
One of my favorite women in history is author J.K. Rowling, known for the incredibly popular Harry Potter series. Her success story truly makes you believe in yourself, and reminds you that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Rowling knew she wanted to be a writer since she was a young girl. At age 27, she was a single mother, jobless, penniless, living in a cramped apartment on state benefits. Any of those factors alone could make a person want to give up. Instead, Rowling focused on writing and following her dream of getting a book published. Even after multiple rejections from publishers after she finished the first manuscript, she persevered. Finally, she secured a print run of 1,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Now, the Harry Potter series has sold over 400 million copies and inspired an empire. Her story resonates with me greatly because of the pressure there is to follow the perfect timeline: go to college, graduate at age 22, get a job right away, get married, buy a house, etc. With these expectations so enforced, it can make you feel like a failure if you don’t follow this timeline. Rowling’s story reminds me it’s okay to not have everything figured out by a certain age. If I have a dream, there is nothing in this world that should deter me from following it, no matter the obstacles or how long it takes. Everybody is capable of achieving his or her wildest dreams, and Rowling is an amazing example of that.
Hometown: Hilton Head Island, SC | Age: 20
Attends: Newberry College, Communications Major
There are many women in the past who made their mark for the women of today. We each have our own heroes who have impacted our lives. Mine happens to be Miss Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American woman to be awarded with an Academy Award for best supporting actress. She was the youngest of 13 performing siblings. After losing her first husband to gunfire, her career started to progress, including landing a radio performance in 1925 on Denver’s KOA station. She was the first black woman to be heard on American radio.
In 1929, she lost her job due to the Great Depression. She moved to Milwaukee and found a job at Sam Pick’s Club Madrid as a bathroom attendant. She eventually worked her way into being a performer there, until moving to Hollywood, where her siblings lived. Her big break came in 1934, when she was cast in Judge Priest and given the opportunity to sing a duet with Will Rogers. Her performance was praised by the press and fellow actors.
In 1935, Hattie played “Mom Beck” in The Little Colonel. Though she landed this role, she received backlash about her part in which she portrayed a happy servant in the South. Many black journalists didn’t approve of the character. When she was officially set in Hollywood, she appeared in 12 films in 1936. She was in over 40 movies where she portrayed a maid. She landed the role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. Her performance received rave reviews and won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the first African-American to win an Academy Award.
Hattie is still an inspiration to many black women today. She inspires me because performing arts has always been a dream of mine, and her against-all-odds success motivates me to be a part of my school plays and musicals.
Hometown: Beaufort, SC | Age: 21
Attends: College of Charleston, Double Majoring in Psychology; Crime Law & Society
The challenges of life are not always easy, especially when it comes to forgiveness. We often have a hard time swallowing our pride and putting the past behind us. There have been many challenges in my life that called upon forgiving others for their wrongdoings and also concerning my own. Some authority figures have taught me to “fight fire with fire” and never forgive, as the individuals who forgive are often the ones who keep getting hurt. I find inspiration in Anne Frank’s life lessons, especially her young, yet wise, knowledge on the subject of forgiving. In the eighth grade I was assigned chapters of Anne Frank’s Diary to read for my English class. In the reading, a quote resonated in my mind that I still turn to this day, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
I do, too. Everyone deserves a second chance and an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and make amends—to decipher good from evil. As a Crime, Law, and Society student this quote will continue to inspire me when I enter a law enforcement career and work with individuals who make mistakes and are in dire need of understanding.
Hometown: Bluffton, SC | Age: 21
Attends: Clemson University: Honors, Political Science and English Double Major
There are numerous women in our world who inspire upcoming generations, however, it is important to look back on the progress set forth by the hands of historical revolutionaries. For me, Virginia Woolf stands out as an advocate for a woman to have A Room of One’s Own, as she puts it in an essay title, and finally gain the opportunity to live independently and pursue the arts. As a constant writer of everything from news stories to poems, I look back to her struggles and remember there was a time when women were restricted from pursuing their talents. Woolf is known today for her novels such as To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway, but even these books hardly feel fictional. In Mrs. Dalloway, for instance, Woolf traces an entire day of a woman’s life and thoughts on the page, giving recognition to the daily experiences of someone overlooked in society at large. Her themes remind women not only of the difficulties of the past, but also the promises of the future, as she expresses her hopes throughout all of her work. Nonetheless, it is imperative to note that Woolf slid through the cracks of history’s blockade against a countless number of women’s stories. Today, we cannot remember everyone who was courageous or talented—but, as our mothers and grandmothers have passed themselves along through us daughters, we may acknowledge them by simply exercising what they have given to us.
Hometown: Beaufort, SC | Age: 21
Attends: College of Charleston, Double Majoring in Spanish and Foreign Language Education
Two Honorable Mentions: Dorothy Lawrence & Rosie Marie McCoy
I would like to pay tribute to three unnoticed women who deserve a medal of achievement: First, I would like to recognize Margaret Hamilton. We successfully landed a man on the moon in 1969. While many men at NASA were acknowledged for the Apollo 11 mission, Hamilton, who developed the spacecraft’s navigation system, and many other NASA women, were not seen as playing an essential role. Thanks to her tireless work, two men were able to walk on the moon that year.
Next, I’d like to acknowledge Dorothy Lawrence who, in 1915, disguised herself as a man and fought in the front lines of WWI. Afterwards, she fell ill and wrote about her experience as a soldier in her book, Sapper Dorothy Lawrence: The Only English Woman Soldier. Her book provided her with no income, and she spent the remainder of her life in a hospital.
Another woman worth recognizing is Rosie Marie McCoy, an African-American songwriter in the 1960s. She wrote songs for Elvis Presley, James Taylor, Ray Charles and so many more. McCoy followed her dreams and her works resonate with so many, still today, without many of us even knowing of her contributions.
I also admire the matriarchs of many families who sacrifice greatly and help to shape young girls across the world. I thank my mother for her hard work and grandmother for all she does and has given. I thank my sister, aunts and cousins for being there with encouragement. Here’s to women who inspire us: You make ideas and opportunities more possible for us all.
Hometown: Columbia, SC | Age: 20
Attends: College of Charleston, Arts Management and Minoring in Hospitality and Tourism
In 7th grade I was assigned a famous celebrity icon project from past decades to conduct research on and then teach the class. I was assigned Audrey Hepburn, and at the time all I knew about her was her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I dove into researching her to learn of the many impacts she made. To my surprise, while she was indeed a movie star, Audrey’s life mostly revolved around charity work and philanthropy. I discovered her work with abuse, children, education, health, human rights, poverty, slavery, human trafficking and more. I recall at the time how shocked I was at this discovery, as all I had really known about her was her work in film and her beauty. To this day, I still think how cool this Hollywood icon of a woman used her platform and fame to do good. I find this very applicable to today’s social climate. Think about how many people look up to celebrities such as the Kardashians, Ariana Grande, Cardi B, Meghan Markle and Gigi Hadid. It is so easy to get wrapped up in glamour, riches, and a lifestyle of opulence. Today’s celebrities who choose to use their influence for charities and philanthropies are who will make the biggest impact long-term. I’m thankful my 7th grade history teacher assigned me Audrey Hepburn. I am so thankful that the 13-year-old me learned women given wealth and power don’t always have to succumb to media sexualization, or be placed into a little box of designer bags, skintight mini dresses and expensive stiletto heels. They are capable of much more.
Hometown: Hilton Head Island, SC | Age: 21
Attends: College of Charleston, Public Health
History helps us understand who we are. Being a woman myself, I understand how acknowledging accomplishments of women in all aspects of life greatly influences the evolution of a young girl—self-love, self-confidence, goals, aspirations, and opening her eyes to new opportunities. Under her leather, lace, and velvet, Stevie Nicks is a timeless woman in history. She’s a rock goddess, singing about her life and its challenges, endeavors, adventures and everything in between. When she was unhappy and confused, discouraged about her career, questioning whether or not she should give love another chance [in her relationship], she wrote “Landslide.” Her fierce love affair with Lindsey Buckingham, how she loved him but faced the complications of their relationship, gave birth to “Dreams,” Fleetwood Mac’s only No. 1 hit. Stevie wrote “Sara” in an attempt to confront multiple tragedies in her life. Each of her songs embodies moments of pain, mourning, desire, drive, success and happiness. She shows courage in sharing all aspects of her life—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Her songs are a reflection of her inner being, never masked or silenced. She resonates with women yearning for more and facing heartaches and also those women who are conquering their goals and living their dreams. Stevie’s philosophy has influenced my decision making as a woman. I should not have to mask my true self, and I am strong and brave enough to handle the events in my life.
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio | Age: 19
Attends: University of South Carolina Beaufort, Early Childhood Education
One sunny October morning in 2012 when I was in eighth grade, I walked into Mrs. Darbyshire’s English class. When the bell rang and class started, she told us about this girl our age from Pakistan, who had been shot the week before, and how she was an advocate for young girls’ education. The girl my teacher was referring to was Malala Yousafzai. If I’m being honest, I didn’t think much of it in class that day. However, as time went on, Malala kept making headlines and sparking my interest in her story. Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school and an English honors class. We were required to prepare a book talk every quarter in front of our class. During second quarter, I chose Malala’s book, I am Malala.
In her book she wrote, “If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” Here in the United States we view education as a right. We don’t realize that in other parts of the world, education is a privilege. Malala stated, “I don’t want to be thought of as the girl who was shot by the Taliban, but as the girl who fought for education. This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.” This powerful quote, which overpowers her horrific experience, is why she is so inspirational. Malala epitomizes educational freedom and equal rights for everyone.