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 IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge (

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.  Here are some of my favorite “challengers” from Washington’s Past.

1. Princess Angeline, powerful image of resilience

Princess Angeline (1820-1896), the oldest daughter of Chief Seattle is remembered as a powerful image of resilience. She was born around 1820 in what is now Rainier Valley. The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott forced the Duwamish Indians off their land and to a reservation, but Angeline remained. She lived alone in her waterfront cabin and made her living selling handwoven baskets and washing laundry for the settlers, with whom she became close, and was a recognizable figure along the streets of the city. A portrait of Angeline lives on in Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry, representing reverence for the indigenous people of this place. J. Bailey’s… (Edwin J. Bailey, courtesy Museum of History & Industry.

2. Anna Herr Clise, founded Children’s Hospital

Anna Herr Clise, who moved to Seattle with her husband from Colorado in 1889, lost her youngest son to inflammatory rheumatism. She was inspired to seek out better children’s medical care for the area, as the closest children’s hospital was in San Francisco at the time of her 6-year-old’s death. In early 1907, Clise gathered 16 of Seattle’s leading ladies to make plans for incorporating a children’s hospital. They each paid $20 to fund the medical institution dedicated to treating and caring for children. For 97 years after the founding of Children’s, the hospital’s board of trustees was made up solely of women — not by rule, but in following tradition. On January 11, 1907, the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital Association became the first pediatric clinic in the Northwest and the third on the West Coast. Today, Seattle Children’s is a top-ranked pediatric hospital that served 405,817 patients in 2015.

3. Bertha Knight Landes, the first female mayor of Seattle

Bertha Landes, in 1926 became the first female mayor of Seattle or of any major U.S. city. She’d made a strong impression a few years earlier as City Council president. With the mayor out of town for a trip to New York City, Landes became the acting head of government in Seattle. She took the opportunity to fire the police chief, whom she accused of collusion with criminals. Landes became the temporary police chief, the first time a woman held the position. The mayor later reversed the decision, but Landes got the last laugh. Two years later, she won the office, and before starting her term, sacked the police chief once again.

4. Thelma Fisher DeWitty, one of first black teachers hired by Seattle Public Schools

The first two black teachers hired by Seattle Public Schools, in 1947, were women: Marita Johnson and Thelma Fisher DeWitty. “I think I’ve had more visits from parents than any other teacher in school, primarily through curiosity, I suppose. But everyone is most friendly,” DeWitty told The Times in an Oct. 22, 1947, story. She added that students brought her flowers. A Pride Foundation scholarship in DeWitty’s honor was founded in 2005 “for current and future African-American LGBTQ leaders and role models.” Thelma DeWitty reads to her second-grade students at Cooper Elementary School in 1950. (Josef Scaylea / The Seattle Times)

5. Patricia Bostrom, greatest women’s tennis player in UW history

Husky, tennis star Patricia Bostrom, is considered the greatest women’s tennis player in UW history, but it’s her role as a pioneer for gender equity in college sports that she is most proud of. After winning a Pac-8 title and a national mixed college doubles title, Bostrom battled the university (and won) over the inequality in the men’s and women’s tennis programs. She is now a lawyer. Undoubtedly because of her victories both on and off the court, Bostrom is one of 12 athletes to be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor in March 2019.

On International Women’s Day, meet some of the most notable women in our region’s history | The Seattle Times Originally published March 8, 2016 at 2:08 pm Updated March 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm

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