It’s International Women’s Day. And we’re celebrating by looking at some of the most awesome women to have called Colorado home.
While she always referred to herself as ‘Margaret’ or ‘Maggie,’ she was nicknamed ‘Molly’ by the media after she survived the sinking of the Titanic and went on to achieve several acts of heroisim.
Born a slave in Virginia in 1800 and freed by her third owner in 1859, Brown came to Denver by working as cook on a wagon train. She is reportedly the first black woman to cross the plains during the Gold Rush.
She established the first laundry after settling in Central City, and helped many newly freed slaves relocate to Colorado in the process of searching for her remaining family.
She’s a world-renowned animal scientist, consultant, author, inventor, and a lecturer and specialist on autism spectrum disorder, a disorder she has had since birth.
All of which makes her more awesome than the sum of her parts.
Chipeta, whose name means White Singing Bird in Ute, tried to mediate between Native American and whites in the late 1800s. She accompanied her husband Chief Ouray to a couple of treaty signings, and was the only woman ever permitted to sit on Ute tribal councils.
Unfortunately, after Ouray’s death in 1880, Chipeta was betrayed by the government and forced to march with the Uncompahgre Utes to Ouray, Utah.
Helen Marie Black
Black was a journalist, civic leader and founder of the Denver Symphony Orchestra. She was the first woman in the U.S. to be employed in symphony management, and until 1951 she was the only one.
Churchill was a prominent feminist in the late 1800s. When Churchill arrived in Denver, she started her own newspaper, The Colorado Antelope.
She wrote on women’s suffrage, temperance and the “great Catholic threat.” Her paper became known as America’s first emancipation newspaper.
Named as the first female secretary of state in 1997, Albright worked to strengthen the U.S.’s alliances and to promote democracy and human rights.
Before becoming secretary, Albright served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and presidential cabinet member from 1993 to 1997.
Dr. Justina Ford
Ford was Denver’s first black woman physician, focusing on obstetrics.
When she arrived in Denver it was to find that Denver General Hospital did not accept black patients or black physicians. So Ford took her practice on the road, serving people of many colors and origins. After 33 years, she became a faculty member of Denver General but could not practice there.
She was admitted to Denver and Colorado Medical Societies in 1950, two years before her death.
Mary Lou Makepeace
Makepeace came to Colorado in the early 1970s as caseworker for child abuse cases. She was elected as Colorado Springs’ first female mayor in 1997 and served for two full terms.
Under her reign, the Colorado Springs City Council passed several equality measures, including domestic-partner health benefits. She also appointed the city’s first female municipal judges.
Mutter was the first woman to be promoted to both major general and lieutenant general in the U.S. Marines Corps, and went on to be the first woman in any of the services to be nominated by the president for three stars in 1996.
She served for 31 years in the Marines and now leads the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and acts as president for the Women Marines Association.