Hillary Clinton made history on Thursday night, becoming the first time a major party has nominated a woman for president.
But activist Anthony J. Williams couldn’t help but think of Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman. She ran for president in 1972, making her the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination — but didn’t win.
Woman around the country were tweeting about what Clinton’s candidacy means for them, their daughters and their mothers. Williams wanted to make sure that Chisholm and women who’ve come before Clinton, of all races, got credit for helping to crack the glass ceiling.
“Our education fails us and so often, black women get erased,” said Williams, 26, who identifies as a queer black man.
Williams and a friend from U.C. Berkeley, his alma mater, wanted to create a Twitter hashtag to celebrate black women and their contributions — both political and not. Unsure what the hashtag should be, they crowdsourced the idea on Thursday evening. They landed on #BlackWomenDidThat at the suggestion of user @Bitterblue55.
Since Thursday evening, the tweets have been rolling in. As of Friday evening, it’s one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter.
What’s resulted is a beautiful stream of Twitter users celebrating black women and their accomplishments. From famous women who truly did crack the glass ceiling to everyday heroes — but the one thing they have in common is they’re all black women.
Williams, who has changed his name on Twitter to Shirley Chisholm for the time being, is no stranger to hashtag activism. He started the hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile in September 2015. “I use Twitter a lot for consciousness raising,” he said.
Williams, who lives in Oakland, noted that there have been some trolls. And it wasn’t long before there was a counter hashtag, #WhiteWomenDidThat, that emerged.
“It is Twitter,” he said, noting that the majority of tweets have been positive.
His hope, he tweeted, is that the stream of tweets touting black powerful women will be engrained in people’s minds well beyond the news cycle.