Journalist She-roes

Journalist She-roes
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Clare Hollingworth, the British journalist who reported the outbreak of World War II, died this past week at age 105. In tribute to her memory, I am profiling women journalists in the U.S. who contributed greatly to our country and rights for all. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. She owned a newspaper through which she advocated against the Jim Crow laws of the South and lynching.

____ 2. She advocated for civil rights and social justice for Mexican Americans through her writings.

____ 3. A pioneer in the field of investigative journalism, she got herself committed to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum and exposed the brutal and horrific treatment to which the women were exposed.

____ 4. The first black newspaperwoman in North America, she advocated against slavery.

A. Mary Ann Shadd Cary

B. Nellie Bly

C. Ida B. Wells

D. Jovita Idar

The first black newspaperwoman in North America, Mary Ann Shadd Cary was born in Delaware and lived there with her family until it became illegal in the state to educate African Americans. Her family relocated to Pennsylvania and she was able to continue her education. Cary taught school in Pennsylvania and New York until the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850 after which her family moved to Windsor, Ontario, Canada near Detroit. There she established a school and served as editor of the anti-slavery newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. She advocated full equality through education and self reliance. After the Civil War, she married and lived in Washington, DC where she attended the Howard University Law School. At age 60, she became the second black woman to graduate with a law degree in the U.S. She also wrote for newspapers in the DC area. Cary has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

A pioneer in the field of investigative journalism, Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochran Seaman) wrote her first newspaper column as a teenager in response to a misogynistic column written in the Pittsburgh Dispatch (Pennsylvania). The editor hired her! Although she wrote about the plight of working women for the paper, she was discouraged by the placement of her columns in the women’s pages. After a stint as a foreign correspondent in Mexico, she returned to Pittsburgh but left the newspaper after experiencing continued similar treatment. Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper New York World hired her to do an expose on the treatment of the mentally ill at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum. Posing as mentally ill and enduring horrific and brutal treatment, Bly’s subsequent reporting brought her fame and resulted in changes in the treatment of mentally ill individuals. Bly is also famous for circumnavigating the globe ala Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days – completing the herculean effort in a record 72 days. Later an inventor and an early industrialist, Bly returned to reporting and covered the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade.

Ida B. Wells (also known as Ida B. Wells-Barnett) was born a slave in Mississippi in 1862. After her graduation from Rust College, she moved to Memphis, Tennessee and began her activism against the Jim Crow laws of the South. Almost physically removed for refusing to disembark from a first class seat for which she had a ticket, Wells found a lawyer and sued the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in a case that went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court. After writing editorials in the local black newspapers, she bought her own newspaper which gave her a platform. When three of her friends were lynched, she wrote a pamphlet, Southern Horrors, and a book, A Red Record (1895), exposing the truths about lynching in the South. After a mob destroyed her newspaper office, Wells went to England and then relocated to Chicago where she advocated for civil rights and women’s suffrage. Wells has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Growing up in a journalist family, Jovita Idar followed in the footsteps of her father, the publisher of La Crónica (The Chronicles) in Laredo, Texas. She and her brothers wrote for this newspaper which advocated for civil rights and social justice for Mexican Americans. After earning her teaching certificate, Idar taught school. The founding president of the League of Mexican Women, Idar worked to provide free education to Mexican children and to improve their lives. She returned to her father’s paper for several years. After marrying, Idar moved to San Antonio where she worked as a newspaper editor and publisher and founded her own newspaper, Evolución, in 1916. She later co-edited another journal.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women journalists 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 to write them back into history.

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

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