Women of Detroit

Throughout American history, there has been a tremendous ascendance and expansion of women’s rights. From the beginning with the Women’s Suffrage Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, all the way to the 2019 elections, ladies have slowly been taking over. Women have continued to amplify their skills and authority passed any hereto-normative patriarchal schema. With that, Revolt would like to extend a special homage to women from the state of Michigan such as Rose Will Monroe (Rosie the Riveter), Rosa Parks, and Rashida Talib, who have left an exceptional eminence within the movement. Today, women are more united than ever before and come nothing short of courage and magnetism in their equal rights efforts. Feminist attitudes and morals have been reflected throughout history by Monroe, Parks, and Talib, which allows females who serve as pillars in economics, civil liberties, and politics. They have amplified the work industry, enthralled human rights issues, and evolved political discourse. Thanks to Michigan key figures of the past and present, the women’s movement has been mobilized and will persist into the future for our daughters and their daughters to propagate.

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The women mentioned above have all left their indent in history. One thing that makes them so influential is they once resided in Revolt's home state of Michigan. Firstly, Rose Will Monroe, or more popularly known as Rosie the Riveter, was a cultural icon for women during the World War II era. Her iconic figure was created during her time in Michigan and she heightened women in the labor force which emphasized female independence. She represents the thousands of women who left their marginalized domestic sphere to work in factories for a wage — Rosie altered gender roles with her impeccable work ethic in a traditional male-oriented job. In 1940, Monroe came to the Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan to work on an assembly line as a riveter of B-24 and B-29 bombers. Working on military equipment was a stretch from taking care of children and doing housework. While working in Ypsilanti, director and actor Walter Pidgeon invited her to be in a film based on the song, Rosie the Riveter. This is ultimately what led Monroe to become the symbolic female monument during the 1940s. Since women like Rosie began working in factories, there has been a significant legislative change for female workers and their rights. Women now have the opportunity to protect themselves financially thanks to policies such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established minimum wage without regard to gender. Also, the Equal Pay Act promised equal wages for the same work, regardless of the race, color, religion, national origin, or sex of the worker. These opportunities would have ceased to exist if there was no normalization of female factory workers. Women were encouraged to create a space for themselves in the labor force due to the statue of Rosie the Riveter. A true Michigan female who displayed strength, courage, and autonomy occupied this space. The phrase, “We Can Do It” will endlessly echo in her honor.

About fifteen years later, an astonishing woman would refuse to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery public bus, none other than historical civil rights legend, Rosa Parks. Shortly after her spark in the civil rights movement, she and her husband moved to Detroit. Parks was 92 years old when she died in her Detroit home on October 24, 2005. While living here, she exhibited preeminent activism and leadership. Before her death, she remained a heavily involved activist and an ongoing contributor to the movement. Parks retained an assortment of skills regarding public affairs, project coordination, community engagement, and advocacy. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, she was a member of the staff of Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Jr. She remained active in the NAACP, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference established the annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award in her honor. Additionally, she was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1996) and the Congressional Gold Medal (1999). Undoubtedly, she was an esteemed civil rights activist, and her honor is everlasting through her efforts. Parks has offered the women’s rights movement an array of potential in areas of community involvement and advancement.

Parks has created vast amounts of opportunities for young people and serves as a beacon of hope for women of color. Prior to activists like Parks, intersectional inequality framed U.S society, which placed black women in a dominating crosshair. However, Rosa continued to contribute even after she refused to give up her seat. In 1987 the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute of Self-Development was established in training for black youth in the city of Detroit. She supported Detroit’s black youth by manifesting contingency for them. At the same time, what Parks has done for the rest of the United States is creating a remarkable shift in this institutional inequality by addressing it with authority and justice. Her initial message was overt and robust, and her heroism has transformed into the indivisible propulsion that we know today in the civil rights movement, as well as the women’s rights movement.

Despite the power of the women’s rights movement perpetuated by the astonishing women before her time, legislative and women’s rights leaders still have a lot of work to do. Fortunately enough, the newly elected representative Rashida Tlaib has taken the spotlight with her defiant political discourse. Along with Monroe and Parks, Tlaib has vigorously created herself a space in the center of societal activism. In 2018, Tlaib won the Democratic nomination for the United States House of Representatives seat from Michigan's 13th congressional district. She is the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature, which also carries intersectional implications within politics. She and her husband were born in Michigan and remain, residents, today.

Even though women remain the minority in areas of government and legislation, Tlaib is shaking the foundation of a male-centered political system. While serving as a democratic representative, she is working on, “impeaching the motherfucker,” a goal she takes personally seeing as our current president has been known to insult women and often mocks the idea of their human rights. In return, Tlaib is taking action and is profanely challenging the most current and relevant gender autocrats in the United States. Henceforth, it is incredibly important that we note her breakthrough in treatises surrounding diversity, ethics, feminism, and economics. Additionally, she is initiating plans to tackle insurance and mortgage redlining, along with corporate greed on Wall Street. Her spirit and grit offer as templates for what female political leaders, as well as all women, should mirror.

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Michigan has been the home to endless women who have shown outstanding change and advocacy for the women’s rights movement. It would be rude to not honorably mention figures like Frida Kahlo, Debbie Stabenow, Ruth Elis, Serena Williams, Edelmira Lopez, and Cynthia Yao. Each one of these women has excelled in their various fields including politics, art, education, athletics, and charity. Rose Will Monroe, Rosa Parks, and Rashida Tlaib represent the different ages and races that offer intersectional progression for women all over the United States. For March it is of good repute to commemorate all of these pioneers. Nevertheless, it is constitutive to publicize and radiate their compelling energy for the future.

Written by Chelsea Salame

Image by Daniel Cicchelli