Nasty Women in History Who Still Managed to Persevere

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19:  Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves to the crowd as she walks on the stage during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8.  (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Nasty Women in History Who Still Managed to Persevere

They did it. So can we.

Published November 10, 2016

Nasty Women, just because Hillary Clinton won’t be sitting in the oval office come January doesn’t mean we’ve lost entirely. She may have lost the presidential race, but she was a beacon of hope for women equality and advocate of many of our civil rights, much like these other great women that came before her.

We shouldn’t lose that hope because if we’ve learned anything from them is that Nasty Women persevere.

  1. Harriet Tubman
    UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Harriet Tubman (c1820-1913) American born in slavery, escaped 1849, and became leading Abolitionist. Active as a 'conductor' in the Underground Railroad. Photograph (Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

    In 1820, Harriet Tubman was born to enslaved parents in Maryland. It wasn’t until 1849 that she was able to escape slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. That’s almost 30 years she endured slavery.

    Not only did she fight for her own freedom, but she returned to the South many times to bring hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad.

  2. Rosa Parks
    Portrait of Rosa Parks, who organized the boycott of buses in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, 20th century, United States, New York, Schomburg Center. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)

    On December 1, 1955, after a long work day Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. Her decision spurred a city-wide boycott and the city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift the law requiring segregation on public buses. She became known as the “mother of the Civil rights movement”.

  3. Oprah
    SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2015 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

    Billionaire Oprah Winfrey is best known as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, her own TV network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, her highly successful monthly magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine and launching the careers of numerous other authors and professionals (yeah, we’re talking about you, Dr. Phil).

    What you might not know is that she was fired from her evening news reporter gig with Baltimore TV station and reportedly told by a producer she was "unfit for television news."

  4. Tina Turner
    ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 21: Tina Turner performs on stage at the Gelredome on March 21st, 2009 in Arnhem, Netherlands. (Photo: Rob Verhorst/Redferns)
    (Photo: Rob Verhorst/Redferns)

    The Grammy-winner singer rose to fame in the 1960s with hits like "What's Love Got to Do With It," "Better Be Good to Me," "Private Dancer" and "Typical Male." She survived a physically abusive relationship with her musical partner and husband Ike Turner.

    Eventually she divorced him, but even after a successful career going solo proved to be difficult. She even resorted to cleaning houses to support her and her children at one point, but eventually bounced back with successful album after album. Her story is documented in her autobiography, I, Tina, that was later adapted in the 1993 film What's Love Got to Do with It

  5. Vanessa Williams
    NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02:  Vanessa Williams attends the Lion Babe "Begin" Listening Party at The Roxy Hotel on February 2, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo: Mike Pont/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Mike Pont/Getty Images)

    In 1983, Vanessa Williams made history as the first African-American Miss America. But soon after, nude photos on the pages of Penthouse magazine of the pageant queen resulted in her being dethroned. She began a singing career, and then branched into acting, where she was praised for roles in Ugly Betty and more.

  6. Robin Roberts
    HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  TV personality Robin Roberts attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

    The beloved anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America, took a leave of absence in August 2011  in order to undergo treatment for a rare blood disorder that she contracted as a complication of the chemotherapy she received for breast cancer in 2007. She received a bone marrow transplant.

    On February 20, 2013, Robin Roberts made an emotional and triumphant return to Good Morning America. She’s since won a Peabody Award, an ESPY and numerous other accolades for her work in broadcast journalism.

  7. Ruby Bridges
    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 07:  Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges speaks onstage during 'The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.' panel discussion at the PBS portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 7, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

    At 6 years-old, Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to attend an all-white public elementary school in the American South. It was September 8, 1954, in Tylertown, Mississippi, that she was escorted to class by her mother and U.S. marshals due to violent mobs.

    She was threatened, ostracized, and white parents refused to have their children in a classroom with her, but every day she marched right on into the school. Ruby visited President Barack Obama to see Norman Rockwell's painting of her walk to school on the day of integration all those years ago hanging outside of the Oval Office.

  8. Angela Davis
    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09:  Activist and Scholar Angela Davis attends the "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners" premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 9, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

    The activist, scholar and writer who advocated for gender equity, prison reform and alliances across color lines was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. She’s faced much adversity throughout her life while fighting for civil rights. She was fired from a teaching position at the University of California, Los Angeles for having communist ties, but she fought them in court and got her job back.

    During an escape attempt at George Lester Jackson's trial in August 1970 where several were killed, Davis was brought up on several charges. After spending roughly 18 months in jail, Davis was acquitted in June 1972. The civil rights leader still continues her work today.

  9. Halle Berry
    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 13:  Actress Halle Berry attends HFPA Annual Grants Banquet at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on August 13, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

    The acclaimed American actress was once a model and beauty queen, but now is one of the highest paid actress in Hollywood. She won an Academy Award for best actress for her performance in Monster's Ball in 2001, becoming the first African-American woman to ever win. Growing up and attending a nearly all-white public school, she constantly was subjected to discrimination, but her early encounters with racism greatly influenced her desire to excel. 

  10. Joesephine Baker
    American-born dancer and entertainer Josephine Baker (1906 - 1975).   (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
    (Photo: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

    The Activist Entertainer fought for racial equality as a performer in the 1920s and '30s. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri where she spent most of youth in poverty, she moved to France and went on to become one of Europe's most popular and highest-paid performers and worked for the French Resistance during World War II. During the 1950s and '60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States.

Written by BET Staff

(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


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