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Women spiritual soldiers: a look at role models who have made America better

March is Women's History Month, and nowhere is it more important than in America. Streams of women have improved our country by embracing equality and service. To be sure, First Lady Michelle Obama has made our country a more humane place with her activist endeavors.

Conjure her efforts like Let's Move!, combating childhood obesity, or Joining Forces, which helps our highly valued but traumatized veterans. These are very worthy causes.

Together, with Barack and many Americans, she has tried to nurture a social justice ethos.

Obama's thrilling example of what a woman can be is the fruition of many moral giants who have preceded her. The pantheon is capacious, but some are particularly admirable, namely Sarah Winnemucca, Georgia O'Keeffe, Fannie Lou Hamer and Alice Walker.

Sarah Winnemucca was a Native American 19th century writer from the Paiute tribe who strived to not only witness her people's oppression, but also to work, via writing, to liberate them from unfair antagonism and war, according to the Native American Writers Web site. To be sure, while living at 54 Bowdoin Street in Boston, she wrote a historical book called "Life among the Paiutes: their wrongs and claims." Her motive was to shape federal legislation that concerned Native Americans. The book exposed the hypocrisy of so-called civilized Americans instigating conflict against savage Native Americans. It seemed the opposite was true.

Georgia O'Keeffe is one of the most acclaimed female painters in the 20th century. Her dark, angular looks coupled with her paintings of picturesque flowers and lush and organic landscapes reveal an artist in command of her stature and her artwork. Her impetus to paint for self-expression occurred early in her life, according to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. She painted her being in order to share herself and her vision. O'Keeffe led a peripatetic life living and painting in Chicago, New York, Charlottesville, Virginia and New Mexico, the museum said. O'Keeffe's stint in New Mexico is the location in which many imagined her paintings. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum said: "Her ability to capture the essence of the natural beauty of northern New Mexico has identified the area as 'O'Keeffe Country.'" While O'Keeffe was not political in terms of being associated with feminist movements, she was nonetheless a feminist. She envisioned herself as an artist, one equal to men.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a really good and epochal leader in the crusade for African American equality, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Born a sharecropper with a scant education, Hamer joined the Civil Right's Movement's Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) with avid dedication. She volunteered for SNCC to confront unjust voting procedures against African Americans. She eventually became field secretary for SNCC. Hamer is best known for working for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was an alternative to the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party. Hamer had to endure beatings and jailing for her activism, yet her example is a potent one, telling America that all citizens can vote and have a dignified life. She is an angel of protest, resilience, transformation and peace.

Alice Walker is a writer of enormous gifts who has written about the fragility and pathos of the human condition, according to She is the daughter of Georgia sharecroppers, and she worked on voter registration in the 1960s and then for the New York City Welfare Department. I have read Walker since college, and I have found her work to be stunning for its emotional reach and spiritual solace. She limns portraits of men and women of every race to reveal hateful oppression and the consequent need to change. While some of her politics are controversial, her work transcends politics and rigid ideology. She takes on the most distressing situations and makes them bearable. She looks at conflict and presses for nonviolent solutions. Walker is a national treasure.

The life stories of these women should be lauded and shared by women and men alike. Women should know that anything is possible, and they can follow their dreams and benefit society as a whole.

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