March is Women's History Month

  • What are heritage and historical months?

    In the United States, heritage and history months are periods within the year that are designated to celebrate and acknowledge the many cultures that make up our nation.  They provide an opportunity to recognize the contributions from various groups and to investigate the rich cultural identities around us.  

    No matter the grade level or curriculum focus, CPS articulates a scope and sequence that focuses on identity and “continuity and change” over time, in grades K-12. This allows students to explore the history of indigenous peoples and the importance and significance of diversity and the changes/effects (including negatives) that are outcomes of power distribution, colonialism, imperialism, etc. 

    Federal Recognition of Women's History Month

    In 1987, the United States Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, which requested that the president issue an annual proclamation designating March as "Women's History Month".  

    Leaders You Should Know

    Ruth Bader Ginsberg:  In 1993, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Although she graduated at the top of her class from Cornell University, Harvard Law School, and Columbia Law School, she struggled to find a job at a time when men dominated the legal profession. The first female tenured professor at Columbia University, she went on to win five cases before the United States Supreme Court involving gender discrimination. These cases advanced equal protection under the law for both women and men. Justice Ginsburg, a staunch advocate for women’s rights, co-founded the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. In recognition of her contributions to equality and civil rights, she received numerous prizes and awards, including the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. [1933 - 2020]

    Elizebeth Friedman:  Until recently, Elizabeth Friedman's contributions were unknown as her work was classified as top secret by the United States government. A schoolteacher and poet scholar, Mrs. Friedman was a self-taught cryptologist whose skill at decoding messages was used by the United States Treasury Department, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Navy. During the Prohibition era, she deciphered international smuggling and drug-running mobs encoded radio transmissions, leading to multiple arrests, including Al Capone. During World War II, Mrs. Friedman supervised and trained a team of seven men as the U.S. Coast Guard Cryptanalyst-in-Charge. Their work saved countless lives of U.S. service members by tracking Nazi military and naval movements and breaking up spy rings. The groundbreaking work of Mrs. Friedman and her husband, William, from the 1920s through the 1950s, including service in World War I and World War II, is considered the basis of modern code-breaking.  [1892 - 1980]

    Ann Hawkins Gentry: Appointed Postmistress of Columbia in 1837, Ann Hawkins Gentry remained in this position until 1865.  She was the second woman in the United States to serve as a Postmistress.  She was inducted into the Boone County Hall of Fame, Boone County Historical Society in 1995. Columbia Public Schools opened Ann Hawkins Gentry Middle School on December 14, 1994. [1791 - 1870]

    Toni Stone: A star athlete from her youth, Marcenia Lyle “Toni” Stone, began her professional baseball career in 1949 as a second baseman for the New Orleans Creoles in the Negro Leagues. Ms. Stone became the second basement for the Indianapolis Clowns, replacing Hank Aaron, who left the Negro American League to play for the Milwaukee Braves. In the 1953 season, she ranked fourth in the league and was batting .364. She paved the way for Connie Morgan and pitcher Mamie “Peanut” Johnson to join the Negro American League.  The Baseball Hall of Fame honored Toni Stone, and in 1993, she was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. [1931-1996]

    Wynna Faye Tapp Elbert:  A community activist who impacted the past, present, and future for the citizens of Columbia, Missouri. During the 1960s, she organized and participated in local civil rights activities. Throughout her life, Ms. Tapp Elbert diligently worked on behalf of the youth of Columbia, Missouri, with programs such as Midnight Hoops, the S.T.A.R. program, the C.A.R.E. program, Operation Toy Drive, and Juneteenth. She worked with the Columbia Police Department to build community trust. Founder of the Frederick Douglass Coalition and co-founder of the J.W. “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation Board, she also hosted the local radio program “Straight Talk” for 20 years. She helped to develop an archive of Columbia’s African-American History with the Historical Society of Missouri. Ms. Elbert Tapp was inducted into the Boone County Historical Society Hall of Fame in 2021 for a lifetime dedicated to improving the community.   [1944 - 2014]

    Annie Turnbo Malone:  In the early 1900s, Annie Turnbo Malone became one of the first Black women to become a millionaire. Orphaned at an early age and raised by her sister, Annie Turnbo was not able to complete school due to illness. However, while at school, she developed a love for chemistry, which she later used to develop hair and beauty products for Black women in St. Louis. She successfully exhibited products from Turnbo’s Poro Company at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, which launched her company nationally. She established the Poro College cosmetology school and training center in 1918. By the 1920s, Mrs. Annie Turnbo Malone headed a multimillion-dollar business empire, the proceeds of which she used to fund many charitable organizations and causes. The St. Louis Orphan’s Home was renamed the Annie Malone Children and Family Services Center in 1946 to honor the contributions and dedication by Mrs. Malone. The center continues its work to this day. [1869 - 1957]

    Outside Resources

    These sources take you to webpages outside of Columbia Public Schools' website domain.

    Boone County Historical Society:

    PBS American Experience:  https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/codebreaker/

    State Historical Society of Missouri:  

    Gentry Middle School History:  https://www.cpsk12.org/domain/11221

    Supreme Court of the United States:  https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographyginsburg.aspx

    National Baseball Hall of Fame:  https://baseballhall.org/discover/baseball-history/toni-stone-connie-morgan-and-mamie-johnson-blazed-trail-for-women-in-negro-leagues 
    Major League Baseball:  https://www.mlb.com/history/negro-leagues/players/toni-stone