In my Humanities class, our high school juniors recently delved into the captivating narrative of “In the Time of the Butterflies,” which recounts the brave lives and tragic fate of the Mirabal sisters. To commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, named in honor of the Mirabal sisters, my students embarked on a research project. They created informative posters shedding light on other revolutionary women, and three stories, in particular, caught my attention for their remarkable and often overlooked contributions:
During the American Civil War, Loreta Velazquez challenged gender norms and cultural expectations by adopting the persona of Harry T. Buford, a male Confederate soldier. Even after being discovered and discharged, Velazquez continued her service as a Confederate spy, adeptly operating as both a male and female double agent. Her life challenges conventional ideas about gender roles and wartime participation.
Born into humble beginnings, Zheng Yi Sao ascended to become arguably the most powerful and successful pirate in world history. Leading the Red Flag Fleet consisting of over 1200 ships in early 19th century China, her story is a riveting tale of power, negotiation, and survival.
While Angela Davis is more widely recognized, her pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, academia, and activism often remains unexplored in the K-12 curriculum. A living testament to the fight for racial and gender equality, Davis’s life serves as an inspiring example.
To enhance our curriculum and foster a deeper understanding of women’s roles in shaping history, I’ve curated compelling video resources from eMediaVA. These materials offer easy and engaging ways to introduce students to these extraordinary women, enriching their educational experience. For more stories of revolutionary women, explore the Unladylike2020 collection as well.
Evan Liddiard is a humanities teacher at Lynnhaven School and an eMediaVA Ambassador.