As the saying goes, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” We appreciate an envelope-pusher, a mover and shaker, a barrier breaker. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re tipping our hat to a few courageous cowgirls that paved the day.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR
Y’all had to know this gutsy gal was gonna top the list. Renowned as the first ever female justice in the US Supreme Court, she was also a real-deal cowgirl! She grew up on a ranch in Arizona, riding horses, shooting, and learning about the land before excelling academically and graduating from Stanford Law. She served as Arizona’s assistant attorney general, was appointed to the Arizona Senate, elected Superior Court judge and appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals before being nominated in 1981 by President Regan as the 102nd – and first ever female – member of the U.S. Supreme Court. She combated sexism throughout her career and paved the way for women in the workplace, the legal sector, and the state Senate, before breaking the glass ceiling into the country’s highest court. Her cowgirl roots were acknowledged by the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, which displayed her Supreme Court robe.
VELMA BRONN JOHNSTON
Fondly dubbed “Wild Horse Annie”, Velma Bronn Johnston was a powerful advocate for animal welfare and one of the primary catalysts and campaigners behind the passage of the Wild an Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971 made it illegal to capture, injure or disturb the animals anywhere in the USA.. When Velma was in her late 30s, she witnessed a truck overladen with horses in appalling conditions. She followed it to a slaughterhouse, where she discovered the horses were wild animals, rounded up from state and private lands. Horrified at their treatment, she lobbied for changes to the law. Her campaigning won new legal protection for wild horses.
This fierce and fearless female was a cowgirl in a cowboy’s arena. Lucille Mulhall was among the first women to compete against men in roping and riding events, which earned her nicknames like the “Queen of the Saddle” and “the Rodeo Queen.” After performing in various Wild West shows and rodeos, she formed her own troupe in 1913. Three years later, she went on to produce her own rodeo.
Awesome and awe-inspiring women are abundant in the Western realm, and we look forward to them – and all the other world-changing women – being celebrated all month long!
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