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Peter A. Shulman 📚 @pashulman
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Today begins Women's History Month, and @eiwhalen threw down a challenge to #twitterstorians to tweet daily about a woman who made history.

So here begins my thread for the month -- others, please join in!
3/1: In class today I taught Charles Payne's extraordinary _I've Got the Light of Freedom_ so I'll start with ELLA BAKER, the grassroots community organizer with the NAACP, SCLC, & SNCC, who fought the freedom struggle by tirelessly teaching participatory democracy.
The Civil Rights Movement would have been very different & likely less effective, without her work. Ms. Baker didn't have much faith in charismatic leaders or centralized institutions, but faith in communities learning how to to collectively advocate their interests.
Here's Payne's book:…

And also Barbara Ransby's biography:…
3/2: As teachers keep striking in West Virginia, remember Mary Harris Jones-Mother Jones-who called it "Medieval West Virginia"--"With its tent colonies on the bleak hills! With its grim men and women! When I get to the other side, I will tell God almighty about West Virginia!"
An Irish immigrant, her husband & 4 children died of yellow fever. Afterwards, she took to the cause of labor, from exploited children to impoverished worker families. She most famously organized mine workers, but also works in railroads, breweries, steel, and textiles.
She lived up to her words of "Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living" -- becoming among the most influential labor organizers of the early 20th century-when that meant a real risk of getting killed. Check out Elliot Gorn's great biography:…
3/3: Labor's still on my mind so today's woman who made history is Frances Perkins, whose 12 years as Labor Secretary during the Depression & WWII made her the longest-serving in history & the first woman cabinet member. But those firsts are nothing compared with what she did.
Perkins began her career in teaching & social work, coming of age among Progressive Era attempts to alleviate poverty & exploitative working conditions. She witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist fire & the scores of women who plunged to their deaths-an event that galvanized her work.
She worked her way up as a labor reformer in NY, eventually serving as head of the state's labor department under FDR's governorship. When he headed to Washington in 1933, she joined him-on the condition he support her pro-labor, pro-union, pro-worker security efforts. He did.
She managed the most popular New Deal program-the Civilian Conservation Corps-as well as the public works program begun under the National Industrial Recovery Act. She helped launch the Federal Emergency Relief Administration to provide for those most desperate for aid.
Perhaps most importantly, her Committee on Economic Security in 1934 drafted the legislation that became the Social Security Act a year later, introducing old age pensions, unemployment benefits, and workers compensation.
In 1938, she helped draft the Fair Labor Standards Act; for the first time permanently setting federal minimum wages, maximum hours, and a ban on child labor. She dealt with major strikes & labor conflict in the Depression & war, & later served on the US Civil Service Commission.
There are a lot of biographies of Perkins, and much more on labor in Depression & war more generally, but here's one of the most recent by biographer Kirstin Downey:…
3/4: It’s #Oscars night! I’m thinking about 1944’s Best Actress winner, Ingrid Bergman, for her role in “Gaslight.” It’s about a manipulative husband who hides his crimes by making his wife think she is going insane. The term “gaslighting” has taken on a new relevance since 2016.
3/5 [I know it's 3/7 but I'm trying to catch up] Ida B. Wells, born to enslaved parents in 1862 who became a crusading activist and journalist against lynching and for women's rights & suffrage…
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