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Women's Roles Then and Now

By NeedHelp102 Oct 18, 2012 1317 Words
My name is Ida B. Wells Barnett was in born in Holly Springs, Mississippi on July 16, 1862. Six months after my birth the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to freed the slaves. My parents James and Elizabeth Wells were born slaves and I was the oldest of seven siblings. My father was one of the first broad members of Rust College, so education was very important to my parents. In 1878 the tragic outbreak of the yellow fever took my parents and one of my youngest sibling lives. At the age of sixteen I drop out of school and raised five siblings with the help of friends and relatives (Baker, 1996). Having to be a caretaker and provider, I convinced the school administrator that I eighteen year old and landed a teaching job. In 1883 my siblings and I moved to Memphis with my aunt who gives me the opportunity to seek employment and help me with rise my youngest siblings (Baker, 1996).

In Memphis I took training courses and was qualify to teach first grade students in Woodstock, Tennessee. On May 4, 1884 I purchased a first class ticket to Nashville, Tennessee on the train, I was outrage when a train conductor order me to give up my seat for a white man I refused and I got off at the next stop after causing so much commotion (Baker, 1996). As soon as I reached Memphis I hired a lawyer and sued the railroad company and winning a settlement of five hundred dollars, but the Tennessee Supreme Court later overturned the decision. After justice was not service to and I was treated unfair I started writing about race and politics issues in the south. I used the pen name Iola to start writing weekly article in the Living Way, which led my article to be published in nation black newspaper and periodicals in the United States. Eventually, I became owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight and later the Free Speech. In 1891 I was fired from my teaching position because of some editorials criticizing the Memphis School Board of Education for the conditions in colored schools (McBride, 1998).

In 1892 three of my close friends were lynch for protecting themselves and their business. After the killing of these men I put my life at risk and travel the south gathering information about other lynching cases. I launched an anti-lynching campaign, which went overseas and in the northeast United States spreading the messages on the horror of lynching. Being very committed the social and political activism I formed the National Association of Colored Women, also involved with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (McBride, 1998). In 1931 at the age of sixty nine my life had come to an end due to kidney disease. I was a brave anti-lynching crusader, suffragist, women’s rights advocate, journalist, and speaker for the 19th century and many centuries to come.

In the 19th century women were still slaves even after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and passed. African American women had very little education, they didn’t know how to read and write. Doing this century women roles was mainly domestic work around the slave owner house and their homes as well. I think women should have been respected more, had more voice in society and political. I was glad to be a voice for women speaking out on all the wrong actions on African America and women.

As I see American today it has come a long way from when I was alive. Today there are many powerful women to look up too. The current roles of women in 21st century are equal to men roles. In the 19th century women where caretaker now they are providers and caretakers. Women stand up for their rights and speak can out on wrong doing without being punished or threaten.

My name is Oprah Winfrey I was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. I was raised by my grandmother on the farm in Mississippi who taught me how to read at the age of two. At the age of three I was reciting poems and Bible verses, however in kindergarten I wrote the teacher a note and I told her I should in first grade the end of the year I was promoted to the first grade. At the age six of my grandmother became ill and I sent to stay with my mother and half sister in Wisconsin. With my mother being a maid and living in poverty she could not afford take care of me and half sister, so a year later I was sent to live with my father in Nashville. While staying with my father he took me to the library and valued my education, when I started the second grade I skipped to the third grade (Fry, 2012). I was a very gifted child.

I was doing very well in school and church in Nashville with my father that he took me to spend the summer with my mother and other siblings back in Milwaukee. When to summer was over my father came back to take me to Nashville I choice to stay with my mother in Milwaukee. While living in Milwaukee at the age of 9, a family member was over watching my siblings and I and he sexual abuse me, later take me out for ice cream so I would not tell anyone (Fry ,2012). As time went on I was raped and sexual abused by a family friend and uncle and I kept it a secret from everyone. After not being able to speak to anyone about the sexual abuse I started acting out by skipping school, stealing money from my mother, having sex with boys and running away and my mother send me back to Nashville with my father. My father made sure I got back on track I learned five new vocabulary words everyday along with weekly book reports. At the age of sixteen I discovered I was pregnant and hide it from parents until I was seven months pregnant went into early labor and delivered my baby boy the same day and two weeks later he died.

After my pregnancy I got back on track concentrating on my education and public speaking. In 1970 I won the Elks Club speaking competition earning a four year college scholarship as the prize (Fry, 2012). I was the first African American to be crowned Miss Fire Prevention in beauty pageant in Tennessee. My skills earned me a position as a newscast reader with a local radio station. As a sophomore at Tennessee State College I was offered a co-anchor position on the evening news (Fry, 2012). In upcoming years I was actress, co-host, anchor of different television shows and movies, which led me to have my own talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show and the highest paid entertainer in the world.

As a young girl, women’s roles where caretakers and the men provide the household needs. As I get older women roles changed they were now making way for other women to get ahead. Women were becoming independent and head of their households. Women are achieving in opportunity in the workplace. In the 21st century women have more resources to achieve their goals.

Baker, L (1996). Ida B Wells-Barnett and Her Passion for Justice. Retrieved August 9, 2012 from Fry, E (2012). A Childhood Biography of Oprah Winfrey. Retrived August 12, 2012 from McBride, J (1998). Ida B Well: Crusade for Justice. Retrieved August 9, 2012 from Oprah Winfrey Biography. Bio.TrueStroy Retrieved August 12, 2012 from

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