Texas Women's History Month 2017

This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas. 

When Bessie Coleman wanted to become a pilot, no flying school would admit her because she was black and a woman. Undeterred, Coleman—who was born in Atlanta, Texas, and grew up in a poor sharecropper family in Waxahachie—obtained a sponsor and went to France for training. In 1921, she became the first black woman in the world to earn a pilot’s license. She returned to the U.S. and flew in a series of airshows, performing stunts whenever she could borrow an airplane. Her dream was to earn enough money to buy her own plane and to establish a flying school for African-Americans.

Zelma Watson excelled in many diverse areas of life. She was a scholar, civic leader, peace advocate and the first black woman to sing a white role on Broadway.

Watson was born in 1903 in the former cotton-plantation town of Hearne, Texas. As the daughter of a Baptist minister, she remembered such leaders as W.E.B. DuBois and Mary Branch Terrell visiting her father’s Dallas church. The family left Texas after being threatened by vigilantes. 

In the early 18th century, 15 families from the Canary Islands immigrated to Texas as part of an effort by the Spanish government to settle a group of its citizens in the military outpost of San Fernando de Béxar. After sailing to Veracruz, Mexico, the travelers, including María Robaína Betancour, a widow with five children, endured a difficult overland journey to arrive in present-day San Antonio in March 1731. Making a home for her family in a new land, Betancour acquired a large property that became a dowry when she married her second husband, Martín Lorenzo de Armas.

 Talented musician, writer, and activist Maud Cuney-Hare rose to prominence in the Northeast, but she never gave up her Texas heritage.

Born in Galveston in 1874, she was the daughter of Adelina and Norris Wright Cuney, one of the state’s most influential African-American politicians and civil rights leaders of the post-Civil War era. She grew up in an upper-class home filled with music and literature, and after graduating from high school studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

When white students tried to have her barred from living on campus, she stood her ground and won the right to remain in her dormitory. She cultivated relationships with prominent black leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois, to whom she was briefly engaged and with whom she remained close both personally and professionally throughout her life. 

 

 Allie Victoria Tennant was one of the most accomplished sculptors in Texas during a career that spanned more than five decades. Tennant became a prominent artist in the Regionalist style during the 1930s, joining a circle of artists who chose Texas themes as their subject matter. Many of her sculptures are now displayed in the Dallas Museum of Art. Her best-known public work is the monumental Tejas Warrior, which still stands at the Hall of State at Fair Park.

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