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Women's History Month: Some Of The Women Who Shaped Texas

Barbara Jordan
Shutterstock
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Shutterstock
Sculpture of Barbara Jordan/Shutterstock

Since most history is written by men, the trials and triumphs of women are often buried in the stories of the past.

In honor of Women’s History Month in March, we’re celebrating some of the many women who had huge impacts on Texas.

Patricia de la Garza de Leon (1775-1849):

Along with her husband, Martin De Leon, Patricia was one of the early settlers of Texas and helped develop the city of Victoria. The city was the only predominantly Mexican colony of Texas, and was named in honor of Mexico’s first president, Guadalupe Victoria.

Susanna Dickinson (1814-1883):

The Battle of the Alamo holds great importance in Texas history, but Dickinson, a survivor of the battle, became an instant heroine afterwards.

During the siege, she cooked and cared for the fighters, and her first-hand accounts of the battle remain a great source of information for historians.

Mexican soldiers found her and her infant daughter after the battle ended, but spared their lives, allowing the two to warn Sam Houston about the strength of the Mexican army. One month later, Houston led his army to win Texas’ independence.

Sussana Dickinson
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
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The McArdle Notebooks, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Miriam Ferguson (1875-1961):

The first woman governor of Texas, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, ran for governor after her husband — James Ferguson, who was governor before her — was impeached.

She campaigned on denouncing the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan in Texas, and told voters they would be getting “two governors for the price of one,” by running with her husband, a former governor, by her side.

Miriam "Ma" Wallace
Texas State Library and Archives Commissions
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Miriam "Ma" Wallace
Miriam "Ma" Wallace/Texas State Library and Archives Commissions

Edna Gladney (1886-1961):

A human rights defender, Edna Gladney worked with the state legislature in removing the stigma from babies born of parents who were not married. She devoted her life to caring for abandoned children with adoptive families, unmarried mothers and adoptive services for families in Texas.

She successfully lobbied the state to issue birth certificates with the names of a child’s adoptive parents, as well as have the Texas Legislature remove the word “illegitimate” from birth certificates.

Edna Gladney
Gladney Center for Adoptions
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Edna Gladney/Gladney Center for Adoptions

Barbara Jordan (1936-1996):

A lawyer and congresswoman, Barbara Jordan was the first Black woman elected to the Texas senate, and the first Black Texan in the U.S. Congress. While serving in both offices, she was a strong advocate in defending the U.S. Constitution, helped pass state minimum wage laws in Texas and assisted with the impeachment of President Nixon.

She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1994.

Barbara Jordan
Shutterstock
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Shutterstock
This sculpture of Barbara Jordan sits at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin.
Barbara Jordan
AP
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AP
Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas waves as she speaks to the Democratic National Convention in New York City on July 12, 1976. That day Jordan became the first Black woman to deliver the party's keynote address: "My presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not be forever deferred," she said.

Haya Panjwani is covering breaking news for KERA. She also served as a legislative fellow for The Texas Newsroom during the 2021 legislative session.