Women are incredible, and the list of accomplishments by women is unlimited. There are generations of women who have shaped life as we know it today, including many of the innovations, creations, and overall contributions that we find valuable. I keep a personal list of women who consistently inspire me to be better, work harder, and reach further, so it was a very difficult feat for me to narrow down who to write about in this post.
Being a woman is an honor and writing about the accomplishments of women is something I am honored to do. This Women’s History Month, we’re covering many Queens throughout the female community and how they have inspired hope around the world.
Women’s History Month is an annual month-long celebration that highlights the contributions of women to both history and contemporary society. Women’s History Month began in 1978 as “Women’s History Day” in Sonoma County, California, and was championed by Gerda Lerner and the National Women’s History Alliance to be recognized as a national week in 1980 and then month in 1987 in the United States, spreading internationally after that. This year’s Women’s History theme is Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.
According to the National Women’s History Alliance, the 2022 theme is both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during the ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history. This year, all of us at the Copyright Alliance will pay tribute to the women who have contributed to the many ways that current and future generations will experience their own kind of healing.
Dolly Parton: Singer, Songwriter, Actress, and Businesswoman
It’s not possible to acknowledge this year’s theme of Providing Healing, Promoting Hope without acknowledging Country Queen Dolly Parton. Dolly is a dedicated philanthropist and an incredibly humble human being. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parton donated $1 million dollars toward research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which funded the critical early stages of development of the Moderna vaccine. Due to being so humble, Dolly has turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice and contested a proposal by the Tennessee legislature to erect a statue of her, noting, “Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.”
Parton is also one of the most-honored female country performers of all time. She has had 26 songs reach no. 1 on the Billboard country charts, 42 career Top 10 country albums, and 110 career-charting singles over the past forty years. As of 2021, she had appeared on the country music charts in each of the seven decades of her career, the most of any artist. She is one of only six female artists to win the Country Music Association’s highest honor, Entertainer of the Year, in 1978.
One of Parton’s most notable charitable efforts is focused on literacy. Her literacy program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a part of the Dollywood Foundation, mails one book per month to each child enrolled from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten. Currently, over 1600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to almost 850,000 children each month across the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland.
The Dollywood Foundation, which is funded from Parton’s profits, has been noted for bringing jobs and tax revenue to previously depressed regions. Parton also has worked to raise money for several other causes, including the American Red Cross and HIV/AIDS-related charities. For all of these contributions, and many others, Dolly Parton is a commendable human being and a strong, remarkable woman.
Betty White: Actress and Comedian
Betty White, may she rest in peace, was an icon and the ultimate Screen Queen. There is no celebration of women’s history without the celebration of Betty White. In fact, White was one of the first women to work both in front of and behind the camera and was the first woman to produce a sitcom in the United States. She earned a Guinness World Record for “Longest TV Career by a Female Entertainer” in 2014 and again in 2018 for her long standing work in television.
White received eight Emmy Awards, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was a 1995 Television Hall of Fame inductee. White was also the recipient of The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Golden Ike Award and the Genii Award from the Alliance for Women in Media, which is a nonprofit organization created by women to support women in the media. Betty is well known for her great love of animals and animal rights.
In 2010, White achieved one of her biggest dreams as she stood surrounded by uniformed forest rangers and a 7-foot-tall Smokey the Bear mascot while was named an honorary Forest Ranger. She was quoted as saying, “[My parents] would be more proud of this than of any other award I have won.” In an interview with ABC News, White said her family vacations in the High Sierras as a child cemented her desire to work with animals and one day become a forest ranger. “But,” she said, “back then, girls were not allowed to become forest rangers.” When White received the honor, more than one-third of Forest Service employees were women.
A 2011 poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos revealed that White was considered the most popular and most trusted celebrity among Americans. She was in love with her career and animals, had a long and fruitful career due to her capabilities, talent, and charismatic personality. In sum, she made her way to infamy by being unapologetically herself and it shone so brightly that her recent passing was felt deeply by so many people all over the world.
Tina Turner: Singer, Songwriter, and Actress
Tina Turner was referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” as she rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, before launching a successful career as a solo performer. Turner has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. She has received 12 Grammy Awards, which include eight competitive awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the first black artist and first female to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. She is also a 2005 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and Women of the Year award.
Despite early fame and fortune, Tina Turner did not have the easiest life during her marriage to Ike Turner. Her relationship with Ike had been widely known as unhealthy and toxic, and detrimental to her mental health; and her unfortunate experience with domestic assault was something that many women can relate to. But it has also become an inspiration to those in similar positions since Turner fled her abusive relationship with nothing but the shirt on her back and fought fiercely for her freedom, her children, and her ultimate success. Despite it being a dark period in Turner’s life, she bravely continued her career success and built a great life, and awards and accolades begin to pour in. Oprah Winfrey was quoted as saying, “We don’t need another hero. We need more heroines like you, Tina. You make me proud to spell my name w-o-m-a-n.”
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez: Singer
One of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century and third place on Billboard’s list of “Greatest Latino Artists of All Time, is Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who is known simply by the name “Selena,” the Queen of Tejano music. Selena impacted millions at a young age and created a legacy that stretches far beyond what she likely imagined. Her music and career have been an inspiration to Latinx people, Latina girls, and women everywhere. She embodied the happy spirit and love for music and dancing that all great singers should have. Selena became an inspiration with the way she, too, was unapologetically herself in her singing, dancing, fashion, and love of life. It’s been 26 years since her unfortunate passing and yet her legacy remains stronger and more impactful than ever.
At the start of her career, she was often criticized and was refused bookings at venues across Texas for performing Tejano music, considered to be a male-dominated music genre. However, her youth and her exuberance drew the attention of fans across musical genres and of various ages. Selena said she never wanted to record explicit songs because of her upbringing and because her fan base consisted largely of children, who regarded her as a role model. She was determined to refrain from using explicit language in her music and avoided sexual themes. Her fashion sense was innovative and fresh. Because of her clothing and dance move choices, she was named by her fans as the “Mexican Madonna.” She has been an inspiration to little girls and women everywhere and showed that being your most authentic self is the path to true beauty and self-love.
Drew Afualo: TikTok Creator and Influencer
In a manner of speaking, Drew Afualo has become the Queen of TikTok. If there is a woman or man who hasn’t yet heard of her, it’s only a matter of time before they do. She has rocked on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter due to her relentless desecration of misogynist men on social media. Her laugh alone inspires terror in the hearts of misanthropes and bigots everywhere. When she starts to laugh, you know a brutal reality check is on its way to the most deserving.
Afualo has used her platforms to inspire women to stand up against hate, sexism, racist, and fatphobia. Her social following has reached millions in such a short time, and she has made her way up to the ranks of celebrities with her content, which inspires courage and fire into the hearts of women everywhere who face hurtful remarks. It also focuses heavily on being unapologetically yourself as a woman; being strong and unrelenting in your personality and image.
Afualo’s social media pages are a source of inspiration for those looking for validation and confidence in themselves. And no hateful content or hate-speak is safe around Afualo, who has received messages of thanks on her social media pages from women who found courage to stand up for themselves because of her content. Her podcast, Two Idiot Girls, covers “all things women” and continues to be another source of endurance and fortitude. She is a proud Samoan who incorporates her culture and language into her content, providing representation to a community that does not always receive the commendation it should. Drew Afualo is a warrior for women everywhere.
Again, the list of incredible women—past and present—is endless, and those featured during our 2022 Women’s History Month blog are Queens admired by so many across their careers, industries, and beyond. Their impressive contributions and love for life set them apart as role models and heroes amongst women. This year’s theme of Providing Healing, Promoting Hope encompasses so much more than medical capabilities. It encompasses the ability to exist in a way that brings purpose and inspiration to people everywhere. Hope can be found where these women exist and can be found in their ways of life, and they carry incredible legacies that will not soon be forgotten.
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