10 intriguing female revolutionaries that you didn’t learn about in history class
August 24, 2014
We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are tons of women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.
Let’s take a look at 10 of these female revolutionaries from all over the world that you probably won’t ever see plastered across a college student’s T-shirt.
Many people know Nadezhda Krupskaya simply as Vladimir Lenin’s wife, but Nadezhda was a Bolshevik revolutionary and politician in her own right. She was heavily involved in a variety of political activities, including serving as the Soviet Union’s Deputy Minister of Education from 1929 until her death in 1939, and a number of educational pursuits. Prior to the revolution, she served as secretary of the Iskra group, managing continent-wide correspondence, much of which had to be decoded. After the revolution, she dedicated her life to improving education opportunities for workers and peasants, for example by striving to make libraries available to everyone.
Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) was an Anglo-Irish Countess, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. She participated in many Irish independence efforts, including the Easter Rising of 1916, in which she had a leadership role. During the Rising, she wounded a British sniper before being forced to retreat and surrender. After, she was the only woman out of 70 to be put into solitary confinement. She was sentenced to death, but was pardoned based on her gender. Interestingly, the prosecuting counsel claimed that she begged “I am only a woman, you cannot shoot a woman”, while court records show she said “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me”. Constance was one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position (Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic, 1919–1922), and she was also the first woman elected to the British House of Commons (December 1918)—a position which she rejected due to the Sinn Féin abstentionist policy.
During the Mexican Revolution, female soldiers known as soldaderas went into combat along with the men although they often faced abuse. One of the most well-known of the soldaderas was Petra Herrera, who disguised her gender and went by the name “Pedro Herrera”. As Pedro, she established her reputation by demonstrating exemplary leadership (and blowing up bridges) and was able to reveal her gender in time. She participated in the second battle of Torreón on May 30, 1914 along with about 400 other women, even being named by some as being deserving of full credit for the battle. Unfortunately, Pancho Villa was likely unwilling to give credit to a woman and did not promote her to General. In response, Petra left Villa’s forces and formed her own all-woman brigade.
Nwanyeruwa, an Igbo woman in Nigeria, sparked a short war that is often called the first major challenge to British authority in West Africa during the colonial period. On November 18, 1929, an argument between Nwanyeruwa and a census man named Mark Emereuwa broke out after he told her to “count her goats, sheep and people.” Understanding this to mean she would be taxed (traditionally, women were not charged taxes), she discussed the situation with the other women and protests, deemed the Women’s War, began to occur over the course of two months. About 25,000 women all over the region were involved, protesting both the looming tax changes and the unrestricted power of the Warrant Chiefs. In the end, women’s position were greatly improved, with the British dropping their tax plans, as well as the forced resignation of many Warrant Chiefs.
Lakshmi Sahgal, colloquially known as “Captain Lakshmi”, was a revolutionary of the Indian independence movement, an officer of the Indian National Army, and later, the Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Azad Hind government. In the 40s, she commanded the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, an all-women regiment that aimed to overthrow British Raj in colonial India. The regiment was one of the very few all-female combat regiments of WWII on any side, and was named after another renowned female revolutionary in Indian history, Rani Lakshmibai, who was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
German revolutionary Sophie Scholl was a founding member of the non-violent Nazi resistance group The White Rose, which advocated for active resistance to Hitler’s regime through an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign. In February of 1943, she and other members were arrested for handing out leaflets at the University of Munich and sentenced to death by guillotine. Copies of the leaflet, retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich, were smuggled out of the country and millions were air-dropped over Germany by Allied forces later that year.
Blanca Canales was a Puerto Rican Nationalist who helped organize the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. She was one of the few women in history to have led a revolt against the United States, known as the Jayuya Uprising. In 1948, a severely restricting bill known as the Gag Bill, or Law 53, was introduced that made it a crime to print, publish, sell, or exhibit any material intended to paralyze or destroy the insular government. In response, the Nationalists starting planning armed revolution. On October 30, 1950, Blanca and others took up arms which she had stored in her home and marched into the town of Jayuya, taking over the police station, burning down the post office, cutting the telephone wires, and raising the Puerto Rican flag in defiance of the Gag Law. As a result, the US President declared martial law and ordered Army and Air Force attacks on the town. The Nationalists held on for awhile, but were arrested and sentenced to life in prison after 3 days. Much of Jayuya was destroyed, and the incident was not fairly covered by US media, with the US President even saying it was “an incident between Puerto Ricans.”
Most people know Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, but fewer people have heard of Celia Sanchez, the woman at the heart of the Cuban Revolution who has even been rumored to be the main decision-maker. After the March 10, 1952 coup, Celia joined the struggle against the Batista government. She was a founder of the 26th of July Movement, leader of combat squads throughout the revolution, controlled group resources, and even made the arrangements for the Granma landing, which transported 82 fighters from Mexico to Cuba in order to overthrow Batista. After the revolution, Celia remained with Castro until her death.
Kathleen Neal Cleaver
Kathleen Neal Cleaver was a member of the Black Panther Party and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making body. She served as spokesperson and press secretary and organized the national campaign to free the Party’s minister of defense, Huey Newton, who had been jailed. She and other women, such as Angela Davis, made up around 2/3 of the Party at one point, despite the notion that the BPP was overwhelmingly masculine.
Asmaa Mahfouz is a modern-day revolutionary who is credited with sparking the January 2011 uprising in Egypt through a video blog post encouraging others to join her in protest in Tahrir Square. She is considered one of the leaders of the Egyptian Revolution and is a prominent member of Egypt’s Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution.
These 10 women are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to female revolutionaries. Let us know who you’d like to see in a list of female revolutionaries.
Jay Lynwood This is being made for all the assholes who are trying to claim white Americans have never had riots out of anger. So here’s a list of my favorite American made riots. Enjoy! Black wall street, Chicago Race Riots, Greenwood, Knoxville, New York City Draft Riot, red summer, Rosewood Massacre, Tennessee Race Riots , The East St. Louis Massacre, Tulsa Oklahoma bombing, Washington D.C. Race Riots GREENWOOD, OKLA.: THE BLACK WALL STREET: In the early 1900s, African Americans settled in Oklahoma, seeking employment and other opportunities in the rich oil fields. Greenwood, part of Tulsa, became home to thriving black businesses — decades later earning it the moniker “Black Wall Street.” But in May 1921, Greenwood faced escalating racial unrest after a young white woman accused a black man of rape. The man wasn’t charged, but that didn’t stop a white mob from burning down Greenwood, the site of the worst race riot in U.S. history. ROSEWOOD, FLA.: A MASSACRE THAT WON’T BE FORGOTTEN: Rosewood, established in 1870, was the site of what could be considered one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. By 1915 it was a small, predominantly black town — with a population of just slightly more than 300. On New Year’s Day in 1923, a young white woman claimed that a black man sexually assaulted her; Rosewood was destroyed by a band of white men searching for the alleged suspect. The number of those killed is still unknown. THE East St. LOUIS MASSACRE: In 1917, Roving mobs rampaged through the city for a day and a night, burning the homes and businesses of African Americans, stopping street cars to pull their victims into the street, and assaulting and murdering men, women, and children who they happened to encounter. A memorial petition to the U.S. Congress, sent by a citizen committee from East St. Louis described it as “a very orgy of inhuman butchery during which more than fifty colored men, women and children were beaten with bludgeons, stoned, shot, drowned, hanged or burned to death—all without any effective interference on the part of the police, sheriff or military authorities.” In fact, estimates of the number of people killed ranged from 40 to more than 150. Six thousand people fled from their homes in the city, either out of fear for their lives or because mobs had burned their houses
The government wouldn’t spend a dime on education, healthy food, drinkable water, assisting people in poverty, de-polluting the streets, or anything else of importance. But they would be on call to spend millions on equipping a small police force to fight off a group of defenseless protestors. You can argue with me that this is not a hate crime, when it so obviously is, but you can’t argue with me when I say that this government is too corrupt to even serve it’s purpose.
What They Won’t Show You on CNN Tonight: Ferguson residents line a parade of roses down W. Florissant leading to where Mike Brown was taken from this world. #staywoke #powerful #insolidarity
Gaza August 19,2014.
"Extended cease-fire ends. Airstrikes resume. More than 30 Palestinians injured and 2 killed in Gaza."
Israel’s Operation Protective Edge
- 2,019 Palestinians killed [80% civilians] , including 542 children and 251 women from Israeli bombardment
- 64 Israeli Soldiers killed in combat and 3 civilians
- 10,223 Palestinians wounded, including 3,486 children and 1,970 women
- UNRWA has exhausted its capacity to absorb displaced persons, and overcrowding in shelters risks the outbreak of epidemics.
- 122 Palestinian families have lost 3 or more members of their family.
- UNICEF estimates about 373,000 Palestinian children have had some kind of direct traumatic experience and require immediate psycho-social support.
- 1.5 million people in Gaza have limited or no access to water supplies. 26 health facilities have been damaged.
- More than 485,000 internally displaced are in need of emergency food assistance.
- Shelling and bombing have damaged 142 schools — 89 of them run by the United Nations — , and multiple Israeli strikes on Gaza’s only power plant and other infrastructure have left it beyond repair.The cost of reconstruction will run to “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars,” - Pernille Ironside, the head of the Unicef office in Gaza
"There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state. The other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people." .. (Commander Adama, Battlestar Galactica)
NYPD beat up and arrest teenage girl and her brother in Times Square for no reason.
FUCK. THE. POLICE.
RACIST ARMED THUGS.
I wana cry
All of this is calculated to humiliate to demean black people while sending other black people a message on how easy it is to just lock us away and take away all our rights.
People aren’t talkin about the news, they’re talking about what they think the news is. There is no news channel saying “This is what happened, draw your own conclusions.” We have made this country so bereft of critical thinking, that now we have a problem where we have to teach them to think for themselves.
We have no unified authority, or problem solvers. We have congressman discussing environmentalism, when they don’t understand half the problems our earth is going through. We go to congress instead of going to people who have worked their whole LIFE trying to solve these problems. When it comes to racism, we’re asking a panel of white dudes, when it comes to sexism and woman’s rights we ask a panel of white priests on what they think. IT’S INSANITY! We ask people who are not in the arena they should be speaking in/for.
AND THAT’S WHY WE DON’T trust the media, it’s because they’re not in the arena of black experience, and they don’t care about the black experience, UNTIL something bad happens and they have the tools to paint us as destructive, ugly and evil!"
A silent protest in Love Park, downtown Philadelphia orchestrated by performance artists protesting the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The onslaught of passerby’s wanting to take photos with the statue exemplifies the disconnect in American society. Simply frame out the dead body, and it doesn’t exist.
Here are some observations by one of the artists involved in the event:
I don’t know who any of these folks are.
They were tourists I presume.
But I heard most of what everything they said. A few lines in particular stood out. There’s one guy not featured in the photos. His friends were trying to get him to join the picture but he couldn’t take his eyes off the body.
"Something about this doesn’t feel right. I’m going to sit this one out, guys." "Com’on man… he’s already dead."
There were a billion little quips I heard today. Some broke my heart. Some restored my faith in humanity. There was an older white couple who wanted to take a picture under the statue.
The older gentleman: “Why do they have to always have to shove their politics down our throats.” Older woman: “They’re black kids, honey. They don’t have anything better to do.”
One woman even stepped over the body to get her picture. But as luck would have it the wind blew the caution tape and it got tangle around her foot. She had to stop and take the tape off. She still took her photo.
There was a guy who yelled at us… “We need more dead like them. Yay for the white man!”
"One young guy just cried and then gave me a hug and said ‘thank you. It’s nice to know SOMEBODY sees me.’