AfAmWomenLead Initiative Offers Diverse Cultural Experiences for Women and Girls of Color Nationwide

The African American Women Lead (AfAmWomenLead) Initiative was established by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans as a unique opportunity to harness the collective impact of the nation’s largest women civic organizations. AfAmWomenLead partners have committed to meet a monumental goal — one million hours of service with Black women and girls across the nation in 2016. AfAmWomenLead provides a platform for organizations, institutions, individuals, and other partners interested in engaging and supporting the development of Black women and girls.

Nationwide, women and girls of color celebrated the humanities and cultural experiences during Women’s History Month. (Photo collage courtesy Venicia Gray)

Nationwide, women and girls of color celebrated the humanities and cultural experiences during Women’s History Month. (Photo collage courtesy Venicia Gray)

To celebrate the important roles women and girls play in history, AfAmWomenLead choose March—Women’s History Month—for a national day of service surrounding cultural experiences and exploration by participating in Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day Live!

The Smithsonian, a key AfAmWomenLead partner, presented a special edition of its magazine’s Museum Day Live! To, “inspire women and girls of color in underserved communities.” Museum Day Live! extends participating cultural centers zoos, aquariums, and museums across the country to offer free, ticketed admission. Museum Day Live! had an incredible impact and included more than 520 partnering museums nationwide in every state and the District of Columbia.

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Celebrating Women Educators

Womens History Month

Each March we take time to reflect on the amazing women who have left their mark throughout history. At the U.S. Department of Education, we realize we have a lot of women to celebrate in education. Every mother is an educator, instilling life lessons for future generations from the moment her child is born. Every sister, aunt, grandmother and even friends, help us learn valuable lessons in and out of the classroom. After all, we never truly stop learning and an education never ends.

As a small part to the month-long commemoration of inspirational women, we have chosen to highlight two women educators because of their incredible ability to break glass ceilings through their dedication to education. Please read and share these inspirational stories with the women and young girls in your own life.

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) Physician: 

After many years of determined effort, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to complete a course of study at a medical college in the United States, graduating at the top of her class at Geneva Medical School (NY) with an M.D. degree in 1849. Blackwell later used her education and experience to help other women achieve doctorate degrees by establishing the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first medical school for women, resulting in greater acceptance of female physicians across the country.

Famous Quote: “It is not easy to be a pioneer – but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.”

Share Elizabeth Blackwell’s story with your classroom:

Mary McLeod Bethune's portrait is on display in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

Mary McLeod Bethune’s portrait is on display in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

Mary McLeod Bethune (1877-1955) Educator: 

Equal parts educator, politician, and social visionary, Mary McLeod Bethune, dedicated her life to improving the lives of young African American women through the power of education. In 1904, Bethune established the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Girls, aimed to help young African American women living in the most impoverished areas of Florida get an education.

Famous Quote: “The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.”

These are just two women out of the millions who have helped educate our children. On behalf of all of us at the U.S. Department of Education, we thank you.

More Women’s History Teaching Resources

Kelsey Donohue is a senior at Marist College (N.Y.), and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach