Mabel Ping-Hua Lee was a pioneer of the Suffrage Movement who stood out as a Chinese immigrant, giving speeches and writing articles as a teenager. In 1912, at the age of 16, she led a suffrage parade of 10,000 people on horseback through New York City. In 1917, women won the vote in New York, but this right was not granted to Lee because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that denied her citizenship. Mabel died in 1966. It is unknown if Lee ever attained United States citizenship and exercised her right to vote, but her activism ensured many other women had the ability to do so.
In 1912, Madam CJ Walker attended the National Negro Business League Convention, stating publicly, “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.” Born Sarah Breedlove, she grew to become one of the greatest female & african american entrepreneurs, social activists & philanthropist’s of the 20th century. Enduring and persevering through barriers of color and gender, she boldly trailblazed & created new opportunities for women to pursue their dreams.
Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta is co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association and one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement. In 1955 Huerta began her career as an activist when she co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO), which led voter registration drives and fought for economic improvements for Hispanics. She also founded the Agricultural Workers Association. In 1962, Huerta and Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), the predecessor of the United Farm Workers’ Union (UFW), which formed three year later. Huerta served as UFW vice president until 1999.
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