Celebrated annually in March, Women's History Month honors the accomplishments of trail-blazing women throughout US history. This year's theme is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories." It recognizes women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling. Here are three inspiring females who have used the power of the pen to make a difference.
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was a world-renowned writer and anthropologist. Her stories explore African American life in the South during the early-20th century.
Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama, on January 7, 1891. But her family moved to Eatonville, Florida, when she was a toddler. The rural community near Orlando was established by formerly enslaved African Americans. It was one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the US.
Hurston dropped out of school at age 13 and did not re-enroll until she was 26. But she rapidly made up for the lost time. By 1935, Hurston had graduated from New York's Barnard College. She had also authored several short stories and articles. Hurston's most famous novel Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937. The book is about an African-American woman living in the early 20th century. It is considered a cornerstone of African American literature.
Unfortunately, the talented author never made much money from her work. The largest royalty she ever earned from any of her books was $943.75. Hurston died penniless in 1960 at the age of 69. Her neighbors managed to raise funds to pay for her funeral. But there was not enough to pay for a headstone. So, her grave remained unmarked for many years. In 1973, a young writer named Alice Walker, who Hurston had inspired, finally placed a marker on the author's grave.
Amanda Gorman wrote her first poem when she was five. She has not looked back since. The Los Angeles, California, resident was just 16 when she became the inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. She was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States three years later.
In 2021, Gorman was selected to read an original poem at President Joe Biden's inauguration. At 22 years old, she was the youngest inaugural poet in US history. Gorman did not disappoint. Her poem, "The Hill We Climb," highlighted the importance of unity and resilience in difficult times.
The now 25-year-old continues to use her poems to bring attention to important social issues. Her uplifting topics provide hope and encouragement to millions of people worldwide.
To say that 18-year-old Alma Deutscher is a musical prodigy is an understatement. The British-born musician started playing the piano at age two and the violin at age three. She completed her first piano sonata at six. By seven, she had penned a short opera. Her first full-length opera "Cinderella," was written at age 11. It has been produced on three continents to sold-out houses and standing ovations.
A skilled violinist and pianist, Deutscher frequently plays her compositions at concerts. Her sold-out debut performance at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 2019 was dedicated to her compositions. She has also played her pieces with various prestigious orchestras worldwide.
Deutscher is often compared to Mozart. The famous musician also began composing at a young age and wrote his first opera at age 11.
"I love Mozart very much; he's probably my favorite composer," she says.
But the 18-year-old wants to establish her own identity.
"I don't really like it when people call me 'Little Miss Mozart' because I don't like being called 'little,' I'm very big," Deutscher insists. "[Also] if I just wrote everything Mozart wrote again it would be boring."
Happy Women's National History Month!
Resources: Women's history.com, Wikidedia.org, Almadeutscher.com, theamandagorman.com