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Some, such as Fannie Lou Hamer and Unita Blackwell, came from humble backgrounds and had little formal education, but made their mark in civil rights. Mississippi women have flourished in politics, law and sports. They have been pioneers in medicine and science.

In August, the United States will celebrate the th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, when women gained the legal right to vote. The women who were chosen were selected from a list of nominees — all U. Mississippi's Women of the Century have inspired us to reach higher, work harder and push farther.

It was difficult to trim the list to just 10 names. We had to choose from dozens of nominees, like Grammy Award-winning songwriter Tena Clark; pioneering women like Dr. Mary Clark, who became a physician in the s, when few women were in the medical field; Abbie Rogers, who established a program for children and adults with mental challenges in the s; and Olympic Medal-winning athletes like Ruthie Bolton and Tori Bowie.

We didn't come up with the list on our own. We got input from our communities and ultimately, came up with the list below. Fannie Lou Townsend was born in Montgomery County, a rural area of Mississippi, where she worked on cotton plantations. Hamer ed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in and led voting drives and relief efforts. After registering to vote inshe was fired from her job at the plantation where she and her husband worked for nearly 20 years. She also helped organize Freedom Summer activities.

She also tried to run for Congress but was not allowed on the ballot. She fought for racial equality in and out of the courtroom, despite being beaten, shot at and jailed. She was successful at forcing desegregation of Sunflower County schools.

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She and slain leader Medgar Evers were featured on a U. S postage stamp honoring civil rights pioneers. She was inspired to become an educator herself and attended Alcorn State University, where she met her husband, Medgar Evers.

On June 12,he was gunned down in his driveway. The family moved to California, where Evers earned a sociology degree and married activist Walter Williams. She was the first woman elected state treasurer, insurance commissioner and lieutenant governor.

She was born in Hattiesburg in southeastern Mississippi, where she graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. She went to law school at the University of Mississippi where she was the only woman in her class. She became the first woman to edit the Mississippi Law Journal.

Her first foray into politics was inwhen she ran for and was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. She co-authored legislation that helped create the University of Mississippi Medical Center — Mississippi's first teaching hospital.

FromGandy was lieutenant governor — one of the first women in the country to hold such a position. In this role, she labored effectively for improvements to education, economic development and health care, issues she fought for throughout her career. She also was appointed commissioner of public welfare and hoped to continue her political career by twice running for governor.

Civil rights advocate, first Black woman to receive law degree from the University of Mississippi. Despite death threats because of her race, she became the first Black woman to earn a law degree from the school. When she was a staff attorney at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights under Law, Slaughter-Harvey represented the families of two students killed during the Jackson State University massacre.

Slaughter-Harvey later became executive director of Southern Legal Rights, and after that, director of East Mississippi Legal Services, which helped minority and economically disenfranchised people. She worked for the state in several capacities, leading the effort that led to voter registration by mail and at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

InSlaughter-Harvey worked for the Mississippi Democratic Party and has served on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater Tougaloo College, where she worked as an adjunct professor from She was the first Black judge in the state. She is president and founder of the Legacy Education and Community Empowerment Foundation, which works to provide youth and student enrichment and mentoring.


She later went to graduate school at Columbia University School of Business. She began working in radio and as a columnist for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. Inshe spent the summer writing book reviews for The New York Times.

Welty received many honorsincluding the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor and was the first living writer published in the Library of America series.

Inshe was honored with the inaugural marker on the Mississippi Writers Trail. Her family moved to Hattiesburg when she was around 8.

It was there she would spend nearly 70 years washing and ironing clothes to earn a living. Although she never finished school and had little resources outside her modest income and a small homeMcCarty scrimped and saved what she could to leave a surprising legacy. Her philanthropic efforts gained national attention and inspired others to donate to the school. More than individuals and businesses contributed after learning of her monumental deed. Leontyne Price broke color barriers as the first Black to achieve global acclaim as an opera singer.

Price grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, where she was immersed in gospel music at St. Upon graduation, Price was awarded a full scholarship to study music at the Juilliard School in New York.

Price later performed in Dallas and became the first Black to sing at the world-famous La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy. Fannye Cook was one of 10 children who grew up in a farming family in Crystal Springs, Mississippi.

Asher curious nature led her to collect plants and animals she discovered around her home.

She was a pioneering conservationist who in helped establish what would eventually become the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. She taught history and English literature and worked at the Smithsonian Institute before returning to Mississippi to establish wildlife education and conservation in Mississippi. Researchers still consult her scientific collections and writings on snakes, salamanders and fur.

Fromshe led a plant and animal survey funded by the Works Progress Administration, to preserve and display specimens throughout the state.

Cook was director of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science until she retired in Margaret Walker was an award-winning poetauthor and professor of literature for 30 years at Jackson State University, a historically Black institution. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and later moved with her family to New Orleans. She attended college in Chicago, then moved to Mississippi with her husband, Firnist, and their three children.

Both instilled in her a love of reading. She was inspired by poet Langston Hughes, who, upon meeting her, encouraged her to continue writing poetry. It was also the first work by a Black writer to speak out for the liberation of the Black woman, according to PoetryFoundation. She received many awards for her work, and inwas inducted into the African American Literary Hall of Fame.

Opinion: women in mississippi—so strong and so tough

Unita Brown was born in Lula, Mississippi, where at 6 she began working in the cotton fields with her family. Blackwell got involved in civil rights because she saw how her son was attending school in the same decrepit conditions she had as. She helped file a lawsuit in to desegregate Issaquena County schools. She was introduced to civil rights leader Bob Moses and became a project director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the s, when she helped organize voter registration drives for Blacks.

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During that time, she said she was arrested at least 70 times. She later received a John D. MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. Sources used in the Women of the Century list project include newspaper articles, state archives, historical websites, encyclopedias and other resources. There's no one way to describe a Mississippi woman. Myrlie Evers Williams Photo: H. Unita Blackwell Photo: James A. Published pm UTC Aug.