My recent trip to Missouri made me curious about women who changed America with ties to Missouri, so I went looking. Their contributions are varied and fascinating. Match the following women with her accomplishment:
____ 1. A sharpshooting, hard-riding gender nonconformist, she served as a scout for military expeditions in the Dakota territories.
____ 2. Nicknamed the "Fulton Flash," she wins two gold medals at the 1936 Olympics.
____ 3. A poet, actress, and storyteller, her 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was her most famous work.
____ 4. A dancer who achieved success in France where the fact that she was African-American added to her allure.
____ 5. In 1875, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that she -- or any woman -- does not have the right to vote in Missouri.
A. Josephine Baker
B. Calamity Jane
C. Virginia Minor
D. Helen Stephens
E. Maya Angelou
Born in Princeton, Missouri, Calamity Jane experienced misfortune early in her life. At age 12, faced with the death of both of her parents, she needed to provide for her basic necessities and those of her five siblings. Tall and masculine looking, she is believed to have taken on a male persona. Calamity Jane traveled to South Dakota and joined Wild Bill Hickok's Wild West Show in 1895. In the show, she demonstrated her sharpshooting skills while riding astride a horse.
An officer of the National Woman Suffrage Association, Virginia Minor of St. Louis, Missouri was among the group of women who decided to challenge the law at the time and register to vote in the 1872 presidential election. The ward registrar in St. Louis refused to register Minor and she sued in St. Louis Circuit court. The case was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in 1874 that the U.S. Constitution did not confer suffrage on anyone.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker supported herself throughout her career beginning with a job as a waitress when she was 13. She performed comical skits as a member of a touring band and dance troupe, but was rejected as a dancer because she was too skinny and too dark. Baker achieved success in Paris where the fact that she was African-American added to her allure as did her dance routines where she was attired in nothing but a feather skirt. She became one of the most photographed women in the world and earned more than any other entertainer in Europe. Her attempts to achieve success in the U.S. were thwarted by racism prior to and after World War II. Finally, in 1973, she appeared at Carnegie Hall to a standing ovation.
The "Fulton Flash" Helen Stephens won two gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. Born in Fulton, Missouri, Stephens ran her first race in 1935, many years before schools had athletic programs for women. At 18 years old, she competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. She won gold in the 100-meter event and as a member of the 400-meter relay team. Both events set world records. Later, she became the first woman to create, own and manage a semi-professional women's basketball team. Stephens has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
A poet, actress and storyteller who inspired us all, Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Overcoming the significant trauma of her youth, Angelou's 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was her most famous work. Hollywood's first female black director, Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of the Arts. She also wrote and read an inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton's inauguration. She said "How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! Angelou has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. All of these women with ties to Missouri are profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We applaud their accomplishments and are proud to stand on their shoulders.
(answers: 1-B, 2-D, 3-E, 4-A, 5-C)