Just as the likes of the great conservative Justice Clarence Thomas — the only Black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court — are often left out of mentions of Black History Month in February, so too, are many conservative women often ignored during Women’s History Month in March.
The media and entertainment industries tend to downplay many of the contributions made by outstanding trailblazing women — if they also happen to hold conservative viewpoints. The left regularly dismisses such women as less worthy of recognition and role modeling, and in doing so, leaves out a significant part of history from “women’s history.”
Last year, for example, Time Magazine highlighted one accomplished woman for each of the last 100 years. In the last 20 years alone, practically every single American woman on the list who was involved in politics or policy was from the left. They included Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and the founders of the Marxist Black Lives Matter organization, among others.
There was not a single conservative woman on the list. No first Black female secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice), no first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate (Joni Ernst) and no first woman to lead one of the top 20 largest companies in America (Carly Fiorina). The closest Time could get was a single moderate, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
So, during this month’s women’s history celebration, will we see women’s magazines, history websites and media outlets laud Amy Coney Barrett, the first Supreme Court justice and working mom? What about the women of the new freshman class in the House of Representatives — the largest number of conservative women to win seats in the House in U.S. history — a group that more than doubled the number of right-leaning women in Congress?
And what about the Condoleezza Rices, the Joni Ernsts and the Carly Fiorinas of the country?
I won’t hold my breath.
Yet these trailblazing conservative women and many who came before them helped build this great beacon of freedom we call America.
Just as we honor our nation’s Founders on Independence Day, the contributions of Black icons during Black History Month, and those who defended our nation on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Women’s History Month is an important opportunity for us to pause and honor the profound contributions of women both past and present. That means honoring the accomplishments of all those who contributed to the kind of nation we live in today — not just those whose politics or policies find favor with the left.
In that spirit, I want to take a moment to recognize my personal hero, someone who transcends left versus right politics. Someone who remains a shining example of American heroism whom every American can look up to. And someone who should be celebrated during both Black History Month and Women’s History Month.
Her name was Harriet Tubman.
As most schoolchildren know, Tubman was the most famous “conductor” in the Underground Railroad. After escaping slavery herself, she risked her freedom and her life by returning to the South several times to free hundreds of others. But what is not as well known is that she was also a very capable spy and scout for the Union Army.
She recruited former slaves to collect intelligence about Confederate positions and movements and personally gathered additional intelligence by questioning escaping slaves. Some of that intelligence resulted in the Army tasking her to lead — yes, lead — Union troops on a successful raid of several plantations in South Carolina, freeing an estimated 750 men, women and children, and seizing or destroying millions of dollars of Confederate supplies.
As a result, she would quietly go down in history as the first woman — Black or White — to plan and lead a military raid during the Civil War. Just last month during Black History Month, Tubman was inducted into the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame, a well-deserved honor, even if it was over a century-and-a-half after the fact.
Tubman’s example has inspired me throughout my life to help others and to always fight for what’s right.
One story about her goes, as she was leading slaves to freedom, she would tell them, if you want to taste freedom, keep going; if you see lights in the woods, keep going; if you hear the dogs barking, keep going.
I would add one more line for my message to the conservative women of today: Despite the trials, despite the dismissals and despite the attacks, if you want to save this country for your children and grandchildren, keep going.
• Kay C. James is president of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).