As a young slave girl, Susie King Taylor secretly learned to read and write. Her skills proved invaluable to the Union Army as they began to form regiments of African American soldiers. Hired by the 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers as a laundress in 1862, her primary roles were to nurse to wounded soldiers and to teach those who could not read or write. Taylor served for more than three years, working alongside her husband, Edward King, a sergeant in the regiment.
Photo: Susie King Taylor, 1902, courtesy East Carolina University
Another amazing woman.
Also a classic example of why, when writers say they can’t “realistically” have women with agency in prominent roles in historically-based fantasy, it is clear they do not know what they are talking about. Because women are everywhere, doing things usually ignored by “mainstream” history.
And specifically, women of color.
Rochelle Ballantyne, 17, of Brooklyn is taking the chess world by storm. She is on the verge of becoming the first African-American female chess master and her journey has been documented in the film, Brooklyn Castle. Brooklyn Castle tells the stories of five members of the chess team at I.S. 318 middle school in Brooklyn.
Ballantyne, currently a senior in high school, also spoke of the budget cuts happening at I.S. 318, which would eliminate the chess program. “Kids have achieved so much because of the chess program at I.S. 318, and now because of budget cuts, that program might not be there anymore, and that’s really horrible,” she said. “It’s so sad that you can take out money from schools because education is what allows you to succeed in life. My brother goes to I.S. 318 now, and the chess team might not be able to go to nationals. When people watch the movie, I want them to see how important the school is to all of us, and how it molded our lives. We have to pave the way so that other kids can achieve what we’ve achieved.” When asked about her educational goals, she has her mind-set on an Ivy League education. “ I really want to go to the University of Pennsylvania or Stanford. I applied through QuestBridge, which is a scholarship program that has a partnership with those schools.”
This November, Ballantyne, has her focus on the 2012 World Youth Chess Championships to be held in Maribor, Slovenia from November 7-19.
Kimberly Anyadike at 15 years old (now 18) became the first African American teen to fly across the United States! She is now a finalist in Seventeen Magazine’s Pretty Amazing Cover contest, where one inspiring, extraordinary reader will be chosen to have her story featured in the magazine along with her picture on the cover ! Interview with Kimberly coming FRIDAY! :)
- Vote for Kim here:
And also she was Vice President of her class.
And she’s already finished a year’s worth of college credit.
And also she’s getting her pilot’s license within the year.
Oh and she’s going to UCLA.
To become a doctor.
So she can join Doctors Without Borders.
And fly herself out to treat patients.
I mean I’m not telling you what to do or anything.
But all the cool kids are voting for her sooooo
The Dahomey Amazons or Mino were a Fon all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey which lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were so named by Western observers and historians due to their similarity to the semi-mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia and the Black Sea.
King Houegbadja (who ruled from 1645 to 1685), the third King of Dahomey, is said to have originally started the group which would become the Amazons as a corps of elephant hunters called the gbeto.(p20)
Houegbadja’s son King Agadja (ruling from 1708 to 1732) developed the female bodyguard into a militia and successfully used them in Dahomey’s defeat of the neighbouring kingdom of Savi in 1727. European merchants recorded their presence, as well as similar female warriors amongst the Ashanti. For the next hundred years or so, they gained reputation as fearless warriors. Though they fought rarely, they usually acquitted themselves well in battle.
The group of female warriors was referred to as Mino, meaning “Our Mothers” in the Fon language, by the male army of Dahomey.(p44) From the time of King Ghezo (ruling from 1818 to 1858), Dahomey became increasingly militaristic. Ghezo placed great importance on the army and increased its budget and formalized its structures. The Mino were rigorously trained, given uniforms, and equipped with Danish guns (obtained via the slave trade). By this time the Mino consisted of between 4000 and 6000 women, about a third of the entire Dahomey army.
The Mino were recruited from among the ahosi (“king’s wives”) of which there were often hundreds.(p38)Some women in Fon society became ahosi voluntarily, while others were involuntarily enrolled if their husbands or fathers complained to the King about their behaviour. Membership among the Mino was supposed to hone any aggressive character traits for the purpose of war. During their membership they were not allowed to have children or be part of married life. Many of them were virgins. The regiment had a semi-sacred status, which was intertwined with the Fon belief in Vodun.
The Mino trained with intense physical exercise. Discipline was emphasised. In the latter period, they were armed with Winchester rifles, clubs and knives. Units were under female command. Captives who fell into the hands of the Amazons were often decapitated.
European encroachment into west Africa gained pace during the latter half of the 19th century, and in 1890 King Behanzin started fighting French forces in the course of the First Franco-Dahomean War. According to Holmes, many of the French soldiers fighting in Dahomey hesitated before shooting or bayoneting the Mino. The resulting delay led to many of the French casualties.
However, according to some sources, the French army lost several battles to them—not because of French “hesitation,” but due to the female warriors’ skill in battle that was “the equal of every contemporary body of male elite soldiers from among the colonial powers”.
Ultimately, bolstered by the Foreign Legion, and armed with superior weaponry, including machine guns, as well as cavalry and Marine infantry, the French inflicted casualties that were ten times worse on the Dahomey side. After several battles, the French prevailed. The Legionnaires later wrote about the “incredible courage and audacity” of the Amazons. The last surviving Amazon of Dahomey died in 1979.