Three Modern Ohio Women You Should Know

By Kieran Robertson

You may have seen that we recently led off our monthly suffrage blog series with a post titled Three Ohio Women You Should Know. This post was very well loved so we thought we would bring you the stories of three more Ohio women who have made history- and are still doing so today!

In 1920, the United States passed the 19th Amendment, granting many women the right to vote for the first time. As part of our commemoration of the Suffrage Centennial, the Ohio History Connection has been documenting the stories of women’s activism in Ohio, including through recorded interviews with modern women activists.

These three women told their stories over the course of the summer of 2019. Their words were then built into the Ohio History Connection’s traveling exhibit, Ohio Women Vote: 100 Years of Change.

Without further ado, we would like to tell you about three more Ohio women you should know.

Paula Haines

“This is our family, this is our tribe, and we’re taking care of each other, whatever it takes. It’s not just a place for second chances; it’s a place for third and fourth and fifth chances. We’re there for you.”

Paula Haines is Executive Director of Freedom a la Cart, a nonprofit organization that provides survivors of sex trafficking with support services and job training in the food service industry. Her work helps to empower women and is changing how victims are treated in the courts and by the media. She began as a volunteer at Freedom a la Cart in 2013, stepping into her current role in 2016.

Her team of staff and volunteers at Freedom a la Cart provide services to over 200 survivors of sex trafficking every year. They consciously help women in ways that will empower them, providing skills and opportunities that will help them succeed in the future.

Check out Paula’s oral history here.

Rhiannon Childs

“We’re not perfect. None of us are perfect. We just need to be able to hear each other, listen to each other, and see each other.

Rhiannon Childs volunteered (or as she says, “I just raised my hand”) in 2016 to serve as Executive Director for Women’s March Ohio. She has since become involved with many activist organizations, including Confront White Womanhood, which she co-founded. Childs currently works with the Ohio Women’s Alliance to promote collaboration for organizers across Ohio.

Reflecting on the Ohio Women’s March during her oral history, Childs  believed that it could have been more intersectional. She stated that it is important for activists to acknowledge when they are wrong and continue to listen to others to get it right. During the same interview, when asked who influenced her activism, Childs quickly began talking about her mother, Faye Childs. A writer and publisher, Faye founded the Blackboard Bestsellers List, a book list specifically for African American authors.

Check out Rhiannon’s oral history here.

Julia Applegate

“I was really good at soccer. But I lived in Southern Ohio in the 1980s, and the girls could play soccer until they were 14… I don’t feel like I ever got to see where my athletic abilities would have gone in my life because of my sex. And that was a hard thing to experience at a really early age.”

Julia Applegate currently serves as the director of the Equitas Health Institute at Equitas Health where she leads LGBTQ+ health education, research and community engagement efforts to imporve the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ communites across Ohio and beyond. Applegate holds a Master of Arts in Women’s, Sexuality and Gender Studies from the Ohio State University and has 20 years of teaching experience in this field at the University level.

As a high school student and later as an undergrad at Ohio University, Applegate took part in many political demonstrations, rallies, and campaigns. After coming to Columbus, Ohio, to begin her graduate studies, Applegate helped form a drag king organization known as H.I.S. Kings “with the goal of disrupting norms about gender, race and sexuality.”

In a recent blog post for our Suffrage Centennial series, Applegate said, “Being activist oriented isn’t easy, but I don’t know any other way to be.”

Check out Julia’s oral history here.

We may never have a chance to speak with Ohio’s many historic activists who paved the way for women in 2020. But we can talk with the activists who are still working to make the world a better place.

Posted March 2, 2020

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