April 17

Women peacemakers born today

  • 1851 Anna Garlin Spencer born Attleborough, MA (d. 1931). Unitarian minister; suffragist. Co-founded American School Peace League for peace education, 1908. Founding member and National Chair of WILPF, 1919-20.

  • 1917 Marietta Peabody Tree born Lawrence, MA (d. 1991). American diplomat appointed by JFK; US representative to UN Human Rights Commission and Trusteeship Council, 1961; mother of Vietnam author Frances Fitzgerald.

  • 1924 Althea Simmons born Shreveport, LA (d. 1990). Civil rights activist lawyer; chief lobbyist for NAACP, esp. Mississippi voting rights. Advocated for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as national holiday.

  • 1957 Jacqueline Moudeina born Kouma, Chad. First Chadian woman lawyer; human rights activist; began suit of 7 women against dictator Hissène Habré for genocide 2000; wounded by grenade in peaceful protest 2001; Ennals Human Rights Defender 2004; Right Livelihood award 2011.

  • 1969 Birgitta Jónsdóttir born Rejkjavík, Iceland. "Poetician" and activist. Organized Art Against War protest against Iraq War. Member of Icelandic Parliament for Citizens Party, 2009-13, and Pirate Party, which she founded, 2013-present. Led campaign to support whistleblowing for free speech.

Women's peacemaking on this day

  • 1943 Howard University law student Pauli Murray led 19 of her classmates in a nonviolent sit-in protest of segregated Little Palace Cafeteria, Washington DC.

  • 1955 First conference of Federation of South African Women, Johannesburg.

  • 1992 In Good Friday protest, Carol Carlson of Memphis was arrested for hammering nuclear missile silo at Whiteman Air Force Base; sentenced to seven months prison.

  • 1996 Founding of Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, leading to women’s role in final peace agreement, Belfast.

  • 2011 Zainab al-Khawaja began 10-day hunger strike to protest Bahrain violence.

  • 2013 Sandra Steingraber jailed 15 days for nonviolent protest of fracking operation.

  • 2013 Three women arrested for blocking road to Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.