She-roes: Oldies but Goodies

She-roes: Oldies but Goodies
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A friend mentioned her acquaintance who was 90 years old and still competing in equestrian events. That got me thinking about women who are known for accomplishments that happened later in their lives. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. Took up painting in earnest in her 70s – became a superstar with her American Primitive style.

____ 2. Established the Girl Scouts of the USA when she was in her fifties.

____ 3. Established 17 tribal colleges and worked to preserve Native American languages and culture.

____ 4. The first African-American woman to lead a media company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, she launched a cable television station targeted for the African-American community when she was in her fifties.

____ 5. The first Native American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she worked to eradicate tuberculosis on the Navajo reservation and to significantly reduce infant mortality.

  1. Juliette Gordon Low
  2. Grandma Moses
  3. Annie Dodge Wauneka
  4. Patricia Locke
  5. Cathy Hughes

In her fifties, Juliette Gordon Low was looking for meaning in her life. In 1911 while she was in England, she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell and decided to bring scouting to America. On March 12, 1912 (Founder’s Day), she made her historic phone call to a friend and distant relative and started Girl Scouts with the first troop of 18 girls that evening in Savannah, Georgia. Low dedicated the rest of her life to Girl Scouts, even selling her pearls at one point to provide funds for the organization. Today, the preeminent leadership organization for girls claims 70% of women leaders as Scouts in their youth, and builds girls and women of courage, confidence, and character. Low has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Anna Maria Robertson Moses, known to the U.S. as Grandma Moses, began painting in earnest in her 70s when her arthritis became too painful for her to continue with her needlework. Her artwork was displayed in the window of a local drugstore in upstate New York – where after several years it caught the attention of an art collector from New York City. Due to the efforts of that art collector, in 1940, a gallery showing combined with a display at a Thanksgiving Festival at a department store in New York City, led to significant press attention. Grandma Moses became a superstar. In the next twenty years, her work would be exhibited across the U.S. and internationally. Her paintings, falling into the category of American Primitive, would be featured on U.S. postage stamps. Her life story was made into a documentary and when she died shortly after her 101st birthday, her death made newspapers around the world – on the front page!

Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in her fifties (in 1963, the first Native American to receive the Medal), Annie Dodge Wauneka had been elected to the Navajo Tribal Council in 1953. With her dedication to improving the health of her people, Wauneka’s efforts led to the eradication of tuberculosis on the reservation and a significant reduction in infant mortality. Because she spoke both English and Navajo, she was able to bring western cleanliness practices to the reservation through her radio program. Bestowed with the title, Beloved Mother, her last entrance into the Navajo Tribal Council led to a standing ovation. Wauneka has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

MacArthur Fellow, Patricia Locke established seventeen tribal colleges as part of her dedication to ensuring that Native Americans had access to education. Locke worked to preserve Native American language and culture and was instrumental in the passage of the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act. In 1993, Locke became the first Native American woman elected to the governing body of the Ba’hai faith. She has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

The chair of Radio One, Cathy Hughes began her career at a black radio station in Omaha, Nebraska. After academic positions, she rose to management positions at a variety of radio stations before buying a radio station. In 2004, in her fifties, Hughes launched a cable television station targeted for the African-American community. The first African-American woman to lead a media company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Hughes has received many awards honoring her trailblazing efforts in the media business.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These oldies but goodies 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 their stories and help write them back into history.

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

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