Women’s History Facts

APRIL RYAN

Baltimore native April Ryan was born on September 5, 1967.  She received a degree in broadcast journalism from Morgan State University in 1989.  It was at Morgan that she first worked for the university’s WEAA-FM radio station.

Upon her graduation from Morgan State University, she worked as a freelance writer for a number of television stations across the eastern United States. She returned to the Baltimore area in 1991, where she became a new announcer on WQSR.

In the course of her career as a White House correspondent, Ryan has interviewed many notable personalities, which have included President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama

She is the author of The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America (2015) which was nominated for the NAACP Image Award.  He second book, At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White was published in 2016. Her most recent book was Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House (2018). 

Ryan won the Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2017, and she was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Claflin University in the same year. Since 2017 Ryan has been a political analyst with CNN.  

She has appeared on MSNBC, NBC, and News One. She was awarded the 2019 Freedom of the Press Award.

JADA PINKETT

Photo attribution:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/idominick/15411329798/

Celebrity actress, musician, and entrepreneur Jada Pinkett Smith was born in 1971 and grew up in the Pimlico neighborhood in Baltimore City.  Raised by her mother and grandmother, Pinkett Smith attended Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA).   While at BSA, she befriended fellow student Tupac Shakur and remained close friends with the internationally acclaimed rap superstar until his untimely death in 1996.

After attending an arts college in North Carolina for a year, Pinkett Smith’s acting career took off when she earned the role of Lena on A Different World.   Following her success on TV, Pinkett Smith starred in the popular film Menace 2 Society.  She then went on to play significant roles in dozens of popular movies, including  A Low Down Dirty Shame, The Nutty Professor, Set It Off, Scream 2, Bamboozled,  Ali, the Matrix sequels, Madagascar, Bad Moms, and Girls Trip.  She’s also produced and directed a variety of films, documentaries, and TV shows. 

In addition to her screen career, Pinkett Smith formed the heavy metal band Wicked Wisdom and performed at Ozzfest in 2005.  She also established a fashion label and wrote a New York Times bestselling children’s book titled Girls Hold Up This World.  Together with her husband, she owns several production companies and contributes to a variety of philanthropic causes through the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation. 

Pinkett Smith met the actor Will Smith on the set of his TV show Fresh Prince of Bel Air and the two married in 1997.  The couple have 2 children, Jaden and Willow, and Pinkett Smith also co-parents Trey, Will Smith’s son from a previous marriage.

ANGEL McCOUGHTRY

Image Attribution: By Lorie Shaull – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71609707

Angel McCoughtry is a professional basketball player from Baltimore, Maryland. McCoughtry attended St. Francis Academy and the University of Louisville, and was selected first in the 2009 WNBA draft by the Atlanta Dream.  The 6’1 forward/guard led the league in scoring in 2012 and 2013 and also holds the single-game scoring record for an WNBA Finals game (38 points).  A five time All-Star, McCoughtry left the Atlanta Dream in 2020 to join the Las Vegas Aces.  After an ACL injury sidelined her for the 2021 season, McCoughtry signed with the Minnesota Lynx in 2022.   The 35-year old plays in Europe during the WNBA off-season and was a member of the USA Women’s Basketball teams that won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.   

In 2015, McCoughtry came out in an Instagram post announcing her engagement to model Brande Elise while also criticizing anti-LGBTQ discrimination.  The engagement was later called off.  Outside of her professional athletic career, McCoughtry is an entrepreneur and her ventures have included opening an ice cream shop in Atlanta, creating a foundation dedicated to helping youth, and founding an entertainment and production company

ANAN PAULINE “PAULI” MURRAY

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Pauli Murray was born November, 20, 1910 in Baltimore, MD. She graduated from Hunter College in New York City in 1933 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Murray graduated Howard Law at the top of her class, earning the Rosenfeld Fellowship which usually affords one the opportunity to do graduate work at Harvard, however she was rejected matriculation on account of her gender. Though her appeals to change their mind were vehement, she was unsuccessful. This is just one example of her lifetime of activism in women’s rights and racial civil rights. She went on to attain her L.L.M. degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1945. Then she would become California’s first black deputy attorney general in 1946. By 1961 she went to Yale University in order to work on a doctorate in juridical science, becoming the first African American to earn one in 1965. A year later she helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW). 

She was also a college professor and poet. At 62, she entered the master of divinity degree program at General Theological Seminary in New York City, and went on to become the first African American woman to be an Episcopal priest on January 8, 1977. She began at the Episcopal Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., but also served as priest at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, before she retired in 1984. She moved to Pittsburgh where she would die of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1985, while working on her autobiography that was published posthumously as Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage. Thurgood Marshall referred to her first book, States Laws on Race and Color, as his “bible” in his work on the Brown v. the Board of Education case. She has been recognized as a saint by the Episcopal Church.

DOROTHY HEIGHT

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Dorothy Irene Height was born on March 24, 1912 in Richmond, Virginia. Height attended New York University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Education in 1933, and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology in 1934. She began her career as a caseworker in the New York City Welfare Department, but by 1937 she accepted a position with the YWCA, an organization she would over time hold several leadership positions in until she retired in 1975. Height was president of the sorority Delta Sigma Theta, from 1947 until 1957. Height found a mentor in the founder of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Mary McLeod Bethune. Height would become president of NCNW, serving as its leader for 40 years, from 1957 to 1997.

Examples of a few things the NCNW accomplished under her leadership include gaining tax-exempt status, establishing the Bethune Museum and Archives for Black Women, and sponsoring “Wednesdays in Mississippi”, a program that had White and Black women from around the country traveling to Mississippi to teach in Freedom Schools. Also, there were the Black Family Reunion Celebrations that were held in several U.S. cities, that provided live entertainment, and offered services such as employment counseling and blood-pressure tests.

Height was a key figure in the Civil Rights movement. She has received many honors, including two of the most prestigious awards for civilians, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. At 91 years old, she wrote her memoir, Open Wide the Freedom Gates. She passed away on April 10, 2010 at 98.

Dr. JOHNETTA BETSCH COLE

Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole hails from Jacksonville, Florida.   She was born October 19, 1936, the daughter of John Thomas and Mary Frances Lewis Betsch.  Cole entered   Fisk University at the early age of fifteen, but later transferred to Oberlin College, where she received the B.A. in sociology in 1957.  She received her M.A (1959) and Ph.D. (1967) in the field of anthropology from Northwestern University.
Dr. Cole has carried out anthropological fieldwork in West Africa, Cuba, and Brazil. She has authored and /or edited numerous articles and books, Anthropology for the Nineties(ed) (1988) and Conversations: Straight Talk with America’s Sister President (1994) are just a few of her books.
Johnetta Cole’s life has been filled with accomplishments: distinguished professor, college president, museum director, and public intellectual. Dr. Cole has held faculty appointments at the University of California, Los Angeles and Washington State University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Hunter College.  Cole became the first African American woman president of Spelman College (1987- 1997). She would later serve as president of Bennett College (2002-2007). In 2009, Dr. Cole was named director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.  She retired from this post in March 2017. Johnetta Cole served as President and Chair of the Board of the National Council of Negro Women from 2018, until stepping down in 2021.
Dr. Cole has received more than 70 honorary degrees.
Dr. THELMA THOMAS DALEY

Dr. Thelma Thomas Daley was born on June 17, 1927 in Annapolis, Maryland.  What might best describe Dr. Daley is that her life has been one of public service.  She is a graduate of Bowie State University and received her master’s degree from New York University and she earned her Ed.D. from George Washington University.
 
Daley was a career educator, serving for many years as coordinator for guidance and counseling services for the Baltimore County Public Schools. She has also served as a visiting professor at a number of universities.  
 
Dr. Daley has served her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, as its national treasurer (1963-1967) and national vice president (1971) and the national president (1975-1980). Daley also served as national president of the American School Counseling Association. She became the first woman to chair the National Advisory Council on Career Education. Dr. Daley currently serves as interim- President and Chair of the National Council of Negro Women (2022)
 
HARRIETT TUBMAN

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross around 1820 in Dorchester County, MD. She decided to take on her mother’s name, Harriet, and got the last name Tubman from her husband John, a free Black she was forced to marry. She was a slave, so she didn’t receive an education. At the age of 13, she was struck by an overseer, leaving her with a head injury that caused blackouts, sudden sleeping spells, and seizures.
Tubman was helped to freedom by members of the Underground Railroad, and she paid it forward by joining and making around 15 perilous trips back to the South to help over 300 others escape from slavery to Pennsylvania, New York, and Canada between 1850 and 1858. She is said to have threatened those who wanted to give up or turn back by brandishing a gun. Known as the “Moses of her people”, she became notorious among slave holders, and had to disguise herself to escape capture. When she wasn’t helping people escape, she made a living being a cook, seamstress, or laundress. Tubman got encouragement from visions that she considered to be messages from God.
In the Civil War she served as a nurse, cook, and spy. She was able to go into areas in rebellion and get information from slaves who were privy to their master’s business. Due to her intel, Colonel James Montgomery was able to raid along the Combahee River of South Carolina, destroying supplies of the Confederates, and freeing 756 slaves. She also went to Jacksonville, FL to gather information that helped the Union take over the city. It took over three decades before she would be rewarded a lowball $20/m pension for her service for the Union.
           In 1869, she would marry Nelson Davis, a Black Civil war veteran, and have a daughter with him. She teamed up with Sarah Bradford to produce her memoir, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, published the same year. She was able to use the proceeds to pay off the mortgage on her property in Auburn, NY. She donated the 25 acres for what would become the Harriet Tubman Home for Indigent and Aged Negroes, a national shrine, managed by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, of which she was a member. She was also an advocate of women’s rights.
She is going to be honored by becoming the face of a redesigned $20 bill. Tubman died on March 10, 1913 from pneumonia. 
[Portrait of Harriet Tubman] – digital file from original, front | Library of Congress (loc.gov)
MARILYN MOSBY

Marilyn Mosby is the State’s Attorney for Baltimore, Maryland.   Raised in the Dorchester neighborhood of South Boston, Mosby was motivated to choose a career in law enforcement after witnessing the death of her cousin at a young age when he was mistaken for a drug dealer and gunned down.   As the first member of her family to attend college, Mosby graduated with honors from Tuskegee University before earning a J.D. from Boston College.   
Mosby worked as a junior prosecutor and an insurance litigation lawyer before her election to the State’s Attorney office in 2015.  As the youngest chief prosecutor of a major U.S. city, Mosby was only 100 days in office when she was thrust onto a national stage after charging 6 police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old Black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody.  After a judge found three of the officers not guilty, all charges were dropped against the remaining officers, and critics suggested she had overcharged.
Mosby ran on a platform of targeting violent crime and reinstituting trust between the citizens of Baltimore and law enforcement.   She has enacted several noteworthy crime prevention initiatives such as Aim to B’More (which provides first-time, non-violent felony drug offenders with a second opportunity by offering life skills and educational training which ultimately leads to full-time employment and the expungement of the felony conviction) and the Junior State’s Attorney and Great Expectations programs which expose young people to the positive aspects of the criminal justice system. 
JILL CARTER

Jill Carter is a Democratic Maryland Senator representing Baltimore City’s 41st District.  Born and raised in Baltimore, Carter attended Western High School and Loyola College before earning a J.D. from the University of Baltimore. Her father – the late Walter P.  Carter– was a prominent civil rights activist in Baltimore City.  
 
After receiving her law degree, Carter worked for the Legal Aid Bureau, the Office of the Public Defender, and the City Solicitor’s office.   From 2003-2017 Carter served in the Maryland House of Delegates.  During her first term, she was the only African American female attorney serving in that chamber.  She resigned her seat to work in the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement but in 2018 returned to public office when Governor Hogan appointed Carter to the Senate seat vacated by former Senator Nathaniel Oaks who faced criminal charges.   Carter later won the primary and general elections handily.
 
Carter has long advocated for progressive legislation to improve the lives of Baltimore City residents.   Her achievements include stopping the construction of a $170 million youth jail in Baltimore, advocating for meaningful police reform and greater law enforcement accountability, championing legislation to protect homeowners from predatory lending, and supporting increased funding for public education.  
[Portrait of Billie Holiday, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947] | Library of Congress (loc.gov)

BILLIE HOLIDAY
Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915. While most believe she was born in Baltimore, MD, it is possible that she was just raised there, as her mother supposedly brought her from Philadelphia, PA as an infant. Billie Holiday was the name she took on; Billie after her idol, the actress Billie Dove, and Holiday from her father Clarence Holliday, who was a jazz guitarist with Fletcher Henderson’s band. She was given the nickname “Lady Day”.
Holiday had a rough life, beginning with her childhood in which she was raped at the age of ten, and sent to a reformatory for “seducing” her adult abuser. By fourteen, she was jailed for prostitution. She began singing in the early 1930s, eventually earning spots with the most famous bands including those of Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Artie Shaw. She went solo in 1938. She is said to have been able to use her voice as one can use an instrument, and on the matter, she said “I don’t think I’m singing. I feel like I’m playing a horn. I try to improvise…like Louis Armstrong or someone else I admire.”
Her most famous recordings are her 1939 recording of “Strange Fruit,” a protest song about lynching, written by Lewis Allen, and “God Bless the Child”, which she composed with songwriter Arthur Herzog.  On a personal note, she had two failed marriages. In 1956, she wrote an autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, with William Dufty of the New York Post. Its film adaptation was released in 1972, with Diana Ross starring as her.
Drug addiction was a huge issue for her, causing her incarceration at times, and loss of her cabaret license which was needed for her to perform in nightclubs. Ultimately, the drugs caused a decline in her health and the quality of her voice. She died on July 17, 1959, at the age of 44, of congestion of the lungs, complicated by heart

VICTORINE Q. ADAMS

Victorine Q. Adams (April 28,1912 – January 8, 2006) was born in Baltimore. She was the first African American woman to serve on the Baltimore City Council. Adams was a graduate of Coppin Teachers College and Morgan State University.  She was also a teacher in the Baltimore City Schools for fourteen years.
In 1943 Victorine Adams, Kate Sheppard, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Vivian Alleyne, and Emma Dudley chartered the National Council of Negro Women Baltimore Section.  She also found (1946) the Colored Women’s Democratic Campaign Committee.  The motto of this organization was “if democracy is worth fighting for its worth voting for.” Her organization helped to elect Harry A. Cole as the first African American in the Maryland State Senate (1954) and Verna Welcome as the first African American woman state senator (1962).
She co-founded Woman Power, Inc. with Ethel Rich with the goal of mobilizing women for political action.  The motto of this organization was, “each one, reach one and each one, teach one.” They believed that every woman could teach something and every woman could learn something.
Adams was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1966, but left the state legislature to run for a seat on Baltimore City Council.  While serving on the City Council, Adams partnered with the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company to establish the Baltimore Fuel Fund, which is designed to help local families with their heating bills. In her memory, the fund is now known as the Victorine Q. Adams Fund.
Victorine Adams was a woman of competence and great compassion, who did not crave attention.  She was a public servant who sought solutions to problems. 
Scottsboro Boys and Juanita Jackson Mitchell | National Portrait Gallery (si.edu)
JUANITA JACKSON MITCHELL

Juanita Jackson Mitchell was born January 2, 1913, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1927, she graduated at the top of her class at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, MD. She did two years at Morgan State College before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.S. in education in 1931, and a M.A. in sociology in 1935. In 1947 she would attend the University of Maryland’s law school, passing the bar examination in 1950, and becoming the first Black woman in Maryland to practice law.
She followed in the footsteps of her mother, Lillie Carroll Jackson, and became a civil rights leader. She was selected to be the first national youth director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She also put forth the idea to hold a forum to address issues such as lynching, racial discrimination, and unemployment. She teamed up with Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., the man who would become her husband, and around 12 other people of high school and college age to make it a reality, founding the City-Wide Young People’s Forum of Baltimore. It had a good turnout, and featured weekly public meetings that hosted well known educators and other Black leaders. She served as the first president of the forum, and it was successful from 1931 until 1940. 
She has a lot of noteworthy legal victories to her credit. For example, she won a case that had to do with ending segregation in state and municipal swimming pools and beaches in the state of Maryland. Also, Baltimore was the first southern city to desegregate public schools after Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas as a result of a secondary school desegregation case she was counsel on. Furthermore, while serving as a lawyer for the local branch of the NAACP, she successfully got Baltimore to hire Black police officers, social workers, and librarians. Lastly, she played a pivotal part in putting an end to the police practice of conducting mass searches of private homes without search warrants, as was done in the Veney Raids.
She died on July 7, 1992 at the age of 79 of a heart attack. She was survived by her four sons, among other family members.
Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination / TOH. – digital file from original | Library of Congress (loc.gov)
SHIRLEY CHISOLM

Shirley Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill, to West Indian immigrants, on November 30, 1934, in Brooklyn, NY. Part of her childhood, from age 4 to 10, was spent in Barbados with her maternal grandmother. She attended Brooklyn College, where she got a B.A. in sociology in 1946. She later received her M.A. in early childhood education from Columbia University in 1952. From 1946 until 1963, she taught and directed in day care centers, and even became an educational consultant for the New York Department of Social Services’ day care division.
In 1960, she co founded the Unity Democratic Club, in order to gain more influence over her district’s nomination process. The club played a part in her nomination for state legislature to represent her home of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She won the contest in 1964, and served in for four years.
In 1969, she became the first Black woman elected to Congress. She wrote about what she experienced during her campaign and first year in Congress, in the book Unbought and Unbossed. In 1972, she ran for presidency. She was the first Black woman to do so through one of the major parties. At the 1972 Democratic Party nomination, she earned the most delegates received by a Black or a woman, not to be topped until Jesse Jackson in 1984 and Hillary Clinton in 2008. She wrote about her campaign experiences in The Good Fight. After being reelected to Congress six times, she retired in 1982, reportedly to spend time with her husband who been hurt in a car accident.
She was known for her feminist and black politics, including involvement with founding the National Women’s Political Caucus and the National Political Congress of Black Women. Beginning in 1983, she would teach political science and women’s studies for four years at Mt. Holyoke College. President Bill Clinton offered to nominate her to be ambassador to Jamaica in 1993, however, she rejected it due to not being in good health.
Other honors include her being listed as one of the top 10 most admired women in America, according to a 1974 Gallup Poll. She was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. She died on January 1, 2005, after suffering from strokes. 
VERDA FREEMAN WELCOME

Verda Freeman Welcome was a teacher, civil rights activist, and politician.  She was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1958 and in 1962 the Maryland State Senate (becoming the second Black women ever elected to a State Senate in the United States).    Over a 25-year political career, Welcome was a passionate advocate for racial and gender equality and used her office to pass legislation striking down discriminatory practices and creating opportunities for all.
 Born in 1907 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Verda Freeman was the third of sixteen children.    Her mother died when Freeman was just a teen, and she raised her siblings.  Later she moved to Baltimore to study education, first at Coppin State Normal School, and later Morgan State College and NYU.   While working as a teacher in Baltimore City public schools, she met and married Dr. Henry C. Welcome.    
 Welcome gained political experience working with the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Urban Renewal and the North West Improvement Association, an organization that played an integral role in attacking discrimination in public accommodations.  Armed with a passionate commitment to racial equality (as a child she watched her father get turned away at the polls by a young white worker) and supported by the Valiant Women (a group of fellow activists), Welcome sought election to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1958.   Her victory in the Fourth legislative district was especially significant because she handily beat her opponent who had been hand-picked by Baltimore’s democratic machine.   In 1962 she ran for and won a State Senate seat.  Her election was contentious, and she survived an assassination attempt in 1964 when 2 men shot her as she got out of her car in front of her home.   
 Among her many accomplishments, Welcome spearheaded legislation that prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and helped to overturn state laws that prohibited interracial marriage.  She advocated for policies that guaranteed equal pay for equal work, helped to secure funding for the construction of Provident Hospital, led the fight to change Morgan State College’s name to Morgan University, and worked to establish the Maryland Commission on Afro American Culture and History. 
 Welcome served until her retirement from the Senate in 1982.  She received honorary doctorates from the University of Maryland, Howard University, and Morgan State University, and is in the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.   She died in 1990 at age 83.
 

MAJOR GENERAL LINDA SINGH
Major General Linda Singh is the first African American and first woman appointed to lead the Maryland National Guard.   Former Governor Martin O’ Malley appointed Singh to the position in 2013, and in 2015 Governor Larry Hogan promoted her to Adjutant General, a position in the Governor’s cabinet that oversees the Maryland Army National Guard, the Maryland Air National Guard, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the Maryland Defense Force.  She retired from this role in 2019. 
 Singh grew up in Frederick County, Maryland.  She dropped out of high school, and at one point considered herself homeless.  While working at the local mall, she met a National Guard recruiter who convinced her to join the military.  She enlisted in 1981, and received an Officer’s Commission in 1991.  Over the course of a 30 year- career she served in dozens of assignments, including a combat tour in Afghanistan. She was awarded numerous medals, including the Bronze Star.  While serving in the National Guard,  Singh worked as a managing consultant with Accenture. 
In 2015, Singh directed the National Guard’s presence in Baltimore City during the civil unrest that occurred following Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody.  She has participated in PSAs where she speaks out as a survivor of sexual abuse.    
File:Enolia McMillian.jpg – Wikimedia Commons
ENOLIA PETTIGEN McMILLAN

Enolia Pettigen was born on October 20, 1904, in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. At eight years of age her family moved to Baltimore. There her family was deeply rooted in Calvary Baptist Church. By 1922, she graduated from Douglass High School, and went on to study at Howard University, where she graduated in 1926 with a degree in education. She earned a master’s degree from Columbia in 1933.
From 1928 to 1935, McMillan was principal of Pomonkey High School in Charles County, MD. From 1935 to 1956, she taught junior high in Baltimore City. She would go on to be vice principal at Clifton Park and Cherry Hill Junior High schools from 1956 to 1969, also serving as vice principal at Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School from 1963 to 1966. She was an advocate of better schools for Black students, and as president of the Maryland State Colored Teachers’ Association, successfully worked to defeat a law that allowed Black teachers to make less than White ones.  
She is best known as the first woman president of the NAACP, an unsalaried position she began in 1985 and was reelected to every year until she retired in December of 1989. She began serving the organization’s Baltimore chapter in 1935, eventually becoming chapter president in 1969. She was a critical part of the decision to relocate the national headquarters of the NAACP from New York to Baltimore.
Honors include being listed in the Women’s Hall of Fame in the Maryland State Archives, and having a street sign that reads “Enolia P. McMillan Way” on the block of 26th street where the NAACP’s Baltimore branch is located. The branch’s building was also renamed for her, and a scholarship for low-income Baltimore students was named for her as well.
She married Betha D. McMillan in 1935, and they had one son together, Betha D. Jr. She died on October 24, 2006, of natural causes, at 102 years of age. 
AUGUSTA T. CHISSELL

Augusta T. Chissell (1880 – 1973) was an important African American civic leader of the women’s suffrage movement in Baltimore city in the early 20th century.  She was active in multiple community organizations, as well as a founding member of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP.  Chissell was not only to hold multiple positions in the Baltimore branch of the NAACP throughout her life, but in many other organizations.  She was a co-founder along with her neighbor Margaret Hawkins of the DuBois Circle, an African American women’s club that started with a focus on literature and arts, but expanded to address political and civic activities.  She would often hold meetings out her own  living room or the living rooms of neighbors around issues of women’s rights.
After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Chissell wrote a continuing column in the Baltimore Afro-American.  Her columns informed women of their newly acquired duties and privileges as voters and citizens.
She was posthumously inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame (2019) for her work in promoting women’s rights and racial equity.

 
LUCY DIGGS SLOWE

Lucy Diggs Slowe (1885-1937) was an extraordinary woman of intellect and substance.  Her many accomplishments can be examined within the fields of education, women’s studies, organizational development, race politics, philosophy, and sports.
After the death of her parents, she would ultimately live with her aunt, who relocated to Baltimore from Virginia.  Stowe graduated from the Baltimore Colored School in 1904, becoming the first female graduate and the first scholarship recipient of the school to enter Howard University.
While a student at Howard, Slowe was one of the co-founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first sorority founded by African American women. Upon her graduation from Howard University as class valedictorian (1908), she returned to Baltimore to take up a teaching position at Douglass High School.          She would later teach in the D.C. Public Schools, where she would become a principal. She continued post-graduate studies at Columbia University and received the M.A. (1915)
In the sport’s arena, Lucy Slowe was the first Black woman to win a national title in any sport and became a 17-time American Tennis Association Champion.  She won the first National Women’s title of the American Tennis Tournament, held in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore (August 1917).
In 1922, Slowe returned to her alma mater, becoming the first Dean of Women, a position she would hold until her untimely death (1937).  Among her many notable achievements, she helped organize the National Council of Negro women and became its secretary (1935). Lucy Diggs Slowe lived a richly textured life of accomplishments.
2010 NASA NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM EVENT (archives.gov)
DONNA EDWARDS
Donna Edwards was born June 28, 1958 in Yanceyville, North Carolina. She attained a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from Wake Forest University in 1980. She married a classmate, Derek Coleman, and relocated to Silver Spring, MD, working for Lockheed Corporation at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. By 1989 she had a son, Jared, and earned a juris doctorate from Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire. She moved to Fort Washington, MD, and took a position as a DC Superior Court judge clerk. By 1993, she was the board president for the District of Columbia Coalition against Domestic Violence. Through the efforts of it and partner organizations, they had a legislative victory in 1994 when Congress passed the Violence against Women Act. In 1995, those organizations came together to form the National Network to End Domestic Violence, making Edwards its first executive director. She was a foundation executive for a few organizations before pursuing a seat in Congress in 2006.
She was endorsed in the 2006 primary by the Washington Post. On September 12, 2006 she lost the election, earning 46.4 percent of the vote, compared to 49.7 percent of the vote, garnered by the seven-term incumbent, Albert Wynn. She tried again, winning the next primary with 60 percent of the vote, to Wynn’s 35 percent. He announced his retirement, leaving the opportunity for Edwards to win in a special election, serving out the last six months of his term. She would go on to win in the November 2008 election, earning her first full-term with 85 percent of the vote, making her the first African American woman to represent Maryland in Congress.
She walked away from Congress after finishing her term in 2017. She had run unsuccessfully in the primary for a seat in the US Senate in 2016. She decided to travel the country via RV, visiting national parks and historic sites, as well as engaging people as her interest was learning about how to improve opportunities for underrepresented communities. The Baltimore Sun reported on January 20, 2022 that Edwards would be running for her old congressional seat.  
File:Sherrilyn Ifill.jpg – Wikipedia
SHERRILYN IFILL 
Sherrilyn Ifill was born December 17, 1962 in Queens, NY. She attended Vassar College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1984. She met Ivo Knowbloch, a German citizen, while on a semester abroad in Spain. The two would marry in 1988, eventually having three children together. In 1987, she earned a law degree from New York University.
Ifill began her legal career at the American Civil Liberties Union, working as a fellow. She then moved on to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) in 1988, working as an assistant counsel. One of her most important cases was Houston Lawyers’ Association vs. Attorney General of Texas, in which the Supreme Court ruled that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In 1993, Ifill left the LDF to join the faculty at the University of Maryland School of Law, where she spent 20 years as a tenured professor. She continued to consult on and litigate civil rights cases while there. Also, she started one of the earliest legal clinics in the nation to focus on eradicating legal barriers for the formerly incarcerated who were trying to reenter society. She engaged in research, and is widely published in newspapers and law journals. In 2013, she returned to the LDF as president and director-counsel.
Under her leadership the organization experienced impressive growth, growing from 55 employees, to more than 150. She grew its budget from $12 million to $60 million, also seeing the addition of $100 million to its endowment fund. She changed the culture in regards to them formerly deeming the courting of the attention of media being inappropriate. She regularly appeared on cable news and newspaper editorial pages, while maintaining a reputation of being very involved, for instance, leaving detailed notes on draft legal fillings. Toward the end of 2021, she announced she would be stepping down in Spring of 2022.
She is also the author of A Perilous Path: Talking Race, Inequality, and the Law, a 2018 book about her professional experiences with bias in the legal system. Her first book, On the Courthouse Lawn, Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century, written in 2007, addresses the history of racially motivated attacks and lynchings in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. 
CAROLYN COLVIN
A native of Arnold, Maryland, Carolyn Colvin led a distinguished career in local, state, and federal government service, culminating with her tenure as Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration 2013-2017.      
Colvin earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Morgan State University in Business Administration.   Over her 30 year career, her administrative titles included:  Maryland’s Secretary of Human Resources (1989- 1994);  Deputy Commissioner for Operations at the Social Security Administration (1998-2001);  Director of the Washington D.C. Department of Health and Human Services (2001-2003);  Director of  Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (2003-2007); Special Assistant to Secretary of  the Maryland Department of Transportation (2009-2011).  
In 2014 President Obama nominated Colvin to be Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.   Although never confirmed by the full Senate,  she functioned as agency head and oversaw the delivery of the nation’s social insurance programs until 2017.   
Over a long career dedicated to public service, Colvin received numerous awards including Sun Magazine’s 50 Women to Watch (2014), the Innovations in Aging Award (Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia Departments of Aging 2012), Maryland’s Top 100 Women (2005) and the Women of Achievement Award (Suburban Maryland Business & Professional Women 2005).
BRIELLE BUCKSELL
Brielle Bucksell is a Maryland resident and the Founder / Executive Director of From Pain to Power, a local non-profit that helps women survivors of domestic violence.   From Pain to Power provides social support and resource referrals and advocates for policy changes that support victims of domestic violence.
Bucksell was recently recognized for her activism and commitment to empowering women when she was named one of the Afro-American Newspaper’s AFRO Activists 2022: 20 Queens of the Movement.