Serena Williams and Ruby Bridges will be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame next year, the hall announced Thursday, adding the tennis great and civil rights icon to a previously announced list of women who will be honored during Women’s History Month in March.
“The inductee class of 2024 broke barriers, challenged the status quo and left an impact on history,” the Hall of Fame said in its announcement.
Eight more honorees were announced in the spring. Williams and Bridges became available after the ceremony date and location were changed, a spokesperson said.
Williams, 42, is a 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion and holds the record for the oldest ranked No. 1 player. retired tennis last year and earlier this month became the first athlete to win the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Icon award.
Bridges, 69, I was a 6 year old first grader. when she became one of the first black students in racially segregated schools in New Orleans in 1960. In 1963, painter Norman Rockwell recreated the scene in the painting “The Problem We All Live With.” The Ruby Bridges Foundation she created 24 years ago promotes tolerance and change through education.
Neither Williams nor Bridges could immediately be reached for comment.
Other members of the class include Peggy McIntosh, 88, an activist known for her explorations of privilege; Kimberlé Crenshaw, 63, who helped develop the academic concept of critical race theorythe idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions, and Judith Plaskow, 76, considered the first Jewish feminist theologian for denouncing the absence of female perspectives in Jewish history.
Also admitted will be Loretta Ross, 69, founder of the National Center for Human Rights Education in Atlanta, and Allucquére Rosanne “Sandy” Stone, a transgender woman born in 1936 and considered the founder of the academic discipline of transgender studies.
Three women will be inducted posthumously: Dr. Patricia Bath (1942-2019), an early pioneer of laser cataract surgery and the first Black female physician to receive a medical patent; Dr. Anna Wessels Williams (1863-1954), who isolated a strain of diphtheria which she assisted in treating; and Elouise Pepion Cobell, known as “The Yellow Bird Woman” (1945-2011), who started the first bank established by a tribe on a reservation in Browning, Montana.
For the first time, the induction ceremony will be broadcast nationally in prime time from New York City, according to the Hall of Fame. The previous 30 ceremonies were held in locations around Seneca Falls, the site in upstate New York of the first Women’s Rights Convention, home to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. .
“The class of 2024 is made up of scientists, activists, artists and athletes who are the changemakers of today and the inspiration for the women of tomorrow,” Jennifer Gabriel, executive director of the Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Their dedication, drive and talent brought them here and we are thrilled to honor them on the national stage.”
The public nominates women for consideration for the Hall of Fame. Nominations are then reviewed by an expert selection committee.
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