A Brief History of Women’s History Month
In the United States, throughout the month of March, organizations and individuals around the nation celebrate Women’s History Month. In 1978, only a week was dedicated to appreciating all the strides and progress that women have made in society. It wasn’t until 1987 when Congress deemed March to officially be recognized as Women’s History Month. With so many great women and their accomplishments to celebrate, trying to squeeze it all into one month proves difficult!
In 2021, to commemorate the efforts and achievements of three of Florida’s most influential women, the Junior League of Tallahassee partnered with the Florida Department of State and the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority to commission a mural honoring Florida female trailblazers.
The artists, Olivia Barattini and Savannah Salinas chose to salute author Zora Neale Hurston, the first woman chief of the Seminole Tribe, Betty Mae Jumper, and the influential environmentalist, Majorie Harris Carr.
Here in the Tallahassee region, there is no shortage of extraordinary women as well. Read on to discover a few of the amazing accomplishments women who have strong ties to our area have made.
Honoring one of the greatest pilots to ever live, at the Tallahassee Regional Airport, there is a plaque dedicated to Jerrie Mock. While Amelia Earhart is recognized for her ill-fated attempt to fly around the world, what is often left unnoted is that Jerrie Mock was the first pilot to successfully fulfill this mission. Her plane, named The Spirit of Columbus, was 11 years old with one Cessna 180 engine.
The phenomenal Ms. Mock lived out her years in North Florida reflecting on her incredible journey that was riddled with tribulations. Her composure was astonishing. She faced ice-covered wings over the Atlantic Ocean, an overheated motor over the North Africa desert, a sabotaged radio with cut wires over the Bermuda Triangle, and an accidental landing on a military runway in Egypt.
To learn more about Jerrie Mock, check out the book by author Taylor Phillips, Racing to Greet the Sun: Jerrie Mock and Joan Merriam Smith Duel to Become the First Woman to Fly Solo.
A highly decorated actress, Cheryl Hines’ most notable role has been playing opposite Larry David in the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. The American actress and director grew up in Tallahassee and participated in the Young Actors Theatre throughout her high school career. She attended Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University.
While Hines is most notable for her film roles, what many may not know is her work advocating for individuals with cerebral palsy. Her nephew, Michael, was born with cerebral palsy, which brought out the serious side of Cheryl Hines. She has done extraordinary work to protect the 10,000 children born with cerebral palsy every year. The United Cerebral Palsy organization works closely with Cheryl Hines. She even spoke to Congress on their behalf to protect the healthcare system that supports individuals and their families.
Anika Noni Rose
Tony award-winner Anika Noni Rose is widely known for her acting skills. Best known for her roles in The Princess and the Frog, Dreamgirls, and A Raisin in the Sun, her talent is inspiring. Anika Noni Rose attended Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. There she nurtured her singing, acting, and performing talents and pursued a career in the film industry.
Breaking barriers in the entertainment industry, in 2009, Anike Noni Rose voiced Princess Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, which is the franchise’s first African American princess. Anika Noni Rose was named a Disney Legend in 2011.
The American recording artist, Rita Coolidge is a two-time Grammy award-winning performer. Coolidge graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in art where she began her music career. After a 5-decade long career as a singer, Rita Coolidge moved back to Tallahassee in 2017. She now supports the preservation of habitats and animals, because of her strong passion for nature and wildlife.
Spanning 18 albums, Rita Coolidge’s impact on the music industry is extensive and honorable. Her songwriting and composing are truly phenomenal. She is a two-time Grammy Award winner for “Best Country Performance by a Group or Duo” in ‘74 and ‘76. Rita Coolidge has had an incredible career. Beginning with her writing and singing backup for Eric Clapton and Stephen Still, which transformed into a solo platinum-selling career.
A middle school principal turned NASCAR driver, Kim Crosby is a woman who goes after her dreams and helps others achieve theirs too. Born in Tallahassee, Florida Kim Crosby always had a passion for driving and racing. She is an American stock car racing driver, professional driving instructor, and monster truck driver as well as a former NASCAR Busch Series competitor.
After only 3 years of training for oval racing at the Buck Baker Driving School, Kim Crosby made her debut at the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Just a year later she made her debut at the Talladega Superspeedway. In 2005, she raced #26 Chevrolet for Keith Coleman Racing at Daytona International Speedway where she finished in 28th place. She later returned to her driving school to coach those with the same dreams as her, truly an inspiration.
Formerly Kim Crosby, now Kim Carter Bard, is a driver of the MisMayhem Monster Truck since 2016 in Australia. In her off-season, she manages the bar she and her husband own in Kentucky, The Bard Distillery. Take a trip to Kentucky to hear about her accomplishments over a drink.
The caliber of talented and inspirational Florida women that deserve recognition is endless. These women, through the preservation of their tenacity and diligent work, have paved the way for many to come. They made a name for themselves, and a better future for others. These 5 women with Tallahassee ties are only a few of the numerous women who deserve recognition and praise during Women’s History Month and every other day of the year!
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