In honor of Women’s History Month we’d like to honor and commemorate the valiant acts of bold women who fought against segregation and led the struggle for fair housing and civil rights. . Here’s a list of three women activists you may not have heard of, whose service to society played a pivotal role in allowing our organization to do the work we do today.
Born in 1923 right here in New Orleans, Louisiana, Leah Chase became a renowned chef and icon of the Civil Rights Movement. Chase understood the unifying power of a great shared meal, and provided just that for many civil rights activists during her time as a chef, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Chase can be considered a vigilante of sorts as many of the meals she prepared and hosted were served to integrated guests, an illegal practice at the time. Despite integration being illegal, her restaurant was held in such high regard that she was never shut down. She later went on to receive the James Beard Award for lifetime achievement and inspired the character Tiana from the Disney story “The Princess and the Frog”.
Diane Nash was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1938. During her time as a college student, her passion for civil rights led her to becoming one of the original founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee, a student organization that played a key role in the civil rights movement. Nash spearheaded the Nashville sit-in movement where activists would protest segregation by illegally sitting at lunch counters in restaurants and requesting to be served while refusing to leave. Nash also organized a peaceful protest march which ended at the Mayor’s office, where he openly admitted to agreeing with segregation.
Not long after the march, Nashville became the first southern city to desegregate lunch counters in 1960. Nash went on to coordinate the Birmingham to Jackson Freedom Ride, facing many acts of violence during the demonstration. She was nominated for a NAACP award by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962, and would eventually move back to Chicago where she continued the fight for civil rights through Fair Housing advocacy.
Gloria Richardson, Born in Maryland in 1922, was dubbed the “Lady General of Civil Rights” by Ebony magazine for her ferocity on the front lines of civil rights advocacy. After graduating from Howard University and losing several family members to racial injustice, Richardson began organizing civil rights protests in Cambridge, Maryland. Though known to have questioned nonviolent approaches to civil rights activism, Richardson became the head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee where she organized civil rights endeavors spanning across a multitude of issues including economic equality, fair housing, and healthcare equality. Richardson’s passionate support for racial justice continued into her later years through her support of the Black Lives Matter movement. She passed away in July, 2021.
LaFHAC honors the bold action of these icons of women’s history, as well as the many other courageous women who forged the path for our organization to do the work that we do.
Want to learn more about Women civil rights leaders? Check out this book!