In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress in U.S. history. Four years later, she ran for president.
It’s a bit embarrassing, but I’ll admit that her name didn’t immediately ring a bell to me. Growing up, even as a self-described history buff, I don’t recall ever seeing Chisholm’s name in a textbook. That’s a problem.
But that was before I came across Rori, a cartoonist and freelance illustrator, and her “100 Days, 100 Women” project that was inspired by Chisholm’s forgotten place in history.
“She’s not well known,” Rori writes in an email, talking about Chisholm. “That’s a shame, but really common.”
“100 Days, 100 Women” is dedicated to shining a light on powerful women from history who don’t get the recognition they deserve — through comics.
“People do great things and history forgets them,” writes Rori. “Maybe their story is seen as a sidenote, or doesn’t fit smoothly into the narrative.”
She’s right too. For the longest time, recorded history revolved around men — or at least that’s the way it’s been portrayed in books that were, almost certainly by no coincidence, written by men. Quietly, though, women have been leaving their mark on the world, and it’s time they got their due.
That’s where Rori comes in.
The parameters were simple: highlight women in history, the lesser known the better. After starting with around 50 names, the list quickly ballooned to over 150. With so many inspirational women to highlight, some of the more well-known figures (for example, Joan of Arc) wound up on the cutting room floor.
Each comic is accompanied by a brief explanation of what historical contribution that woman made along with a link to some further reading. It’s a bite-size history lesson perfect for parents, teachers, and students alike.
The list is a work in progress. The only names truly set are the ones that have been drawn already.
So far, Rori’s put the finishing touches on around 35 portraits, including civil rights activists (such as Dolores Huerta and Ida B. Wells), the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova), pioneers in arts and music (Artemisia Gentileschi and Wendy Carlos), and politicians (former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto).
To keep up with Rori’s ongoing list of 100 Days, 100 Women, you can follow her on social media. She posts updates to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and she gives special sneak peeks through her Patreon profile.
With any hope, Rori’s project will inspire a renewed interest in women’s history, opening up an entire new universe of role models for young minds.