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Women's Virtual Hall of Fame


BCC’s Women’s Virtual Hall of Fame (WVHF) began as a virtual adjunct to the College’s historical, landmarked Hall of Fame. The WVHF promotes the celebration and awareness of outstanding women from the past and the present, and from the U.S. and abroad. Each year during Women’s History Month, the National Center for Educational Alliances and the Center for Tolerance and Understanding collaborates with the Office of Student Life; History Department; Speech, Drama and Debate Team; and CTE to encourage students to first nominate and then vote for outstanding women in the following three categories:

  • Women from the past, either American or foreign
  • American women who are currently alive
  • Women from other countries who are currently alive

Women are eligible to be nominated if they have made a significant contribution in one of the following areas: science and health; politics and government; education; literature, music or the arts; philanthropy; human rights; religion; activism and leadership; journalism; and military services. In addition, the nominee should be a woman who meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • She has had local, national, or world impact.
  • She has made an enduring contribution to one of the above fields.
  • She has had significant impact in expanding opportunities for women.
  • She is the first woman in her field. 

WVHF was implemented on campus to encourage students to recognize women worldwide for their outstanding accomplishments. It has also become a prime teaching event since both the nomination and selection process enable faculty to focus on the contributions women have made around the world and throughout history.  Students are able to nominate candidates approximately two weeks prior to Women’s History Month and vote for one of the finalists in each category once the nominations have been counted. The nominations are presented at the Opening Ceremony for Women’s History Month and the inductees are announced at the Closing Ceremony.


2011 Inductees

Outstanding Woman from the Past
Nominees: Celia Cruz, Margaret Mead, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Celia Cruz

Inductee: Celia Cruz (1924-2003), the “Queen of Salsa,” grew up in Havana, Cuba. At an early age she sang on Havana’s popular Hora del Té radio broadcast. Her first recordings were made in 1948 in Venezuela. In 1950, Cruz joined the Sonora Matancera, a renowned Cuban orchestra, and soon became famous throughout Cuba. During the 15 years she was a member, the band traveled all over Latin America, and she became known for her trademark shout, “¡Azucar! ” With Fidel Castro assuming control of Cuba in 1959, Cruz and her husband decided to become citizens of the United States. In the U.S. she played with Tito Puente and Johnny Pacheco. In 1990, Cruz won a Grammy Award with Ray Barretto for “Ritmo en el Corazon.” She had 23 gold records overall. In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Arts.

Outstanding American Woman from the Present
Nominees: Michelle Obama, Gloria Steinem, and Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Inductee: Oprah Winfrey (1954- ) is known worldwide for the success of The Oprah Winfrey Show. A year after its debut, the show became the number one talk show in national syndication. In 1987, in its first year of eligibility, the show received three Daytime Emmy Awards. Winfrey also turned to acting, and appeared in several high-profile movies, including The Color Purple, Native Son, and Beloved. She formed her own production company, Harpo Productions. In January 2011, she launched the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). In business terms, she is the highest-paid performer on television, the richest self-made woman in America, and the richest African-American of the 21st century. She has also engaged in philanthropic endeavors, most notably the establishment of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Outstanding International Woman from the Present
Nominees: Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Dilma Rousseff, and Nawal El Saadawi

Françoise  Barré-Sinoussi

Inductee: Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (1947- ) is a French virologist and director of the Unité de Régulation des Infections Rétrovirales at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. Born in Paris, Barré-Sinoussi performed some of the fundamental work in the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS. In 2008, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, together with her boss Luc Montagnier, for their discovery of HIV. She has co-authored more than 200 scientific publications, participated in over 250 international conferences, and initiated collaborations with developing countries to create multidisciplinary networks.

2010 Inductees

Outstanding Woman from the Past

Nominees: Mary McLeod Bethune, Amelia Earhart and Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Inductee: Mother Teresa (1910-1997), born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor. A Roman Catholic nun of Albanian descent, she founded the Missionaries of Charity order in Calcutta, India, in 1950. After establishing free schools for slum children of Calcutta, Mother Teresa created homes for sick, dying and abandoned people of all ages. Missionaries of Charity expanded into 123 countries, and opened the first church-sponsored hospice for AIDS patients in the South Bronx in 1985. Among Mother Teresa’s many humanitarian awards was the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

Outstanding Woman from the Present-US

Nominees: Christiane Amanpour, Michelle Obama, and Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor

Inductee: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (1954- ), a Puerto-Rican New Yorker, grew up in the Bronxdale Houses project in the Bronx. Her widowed mother stressed education, and Sotomayor graduated as valedictorian of Cardinal Spellman High School. She attended Princeton University on scholarship, where she advocated for Puerto Rican students, Latin-American courses and more Latino faculty. After Yale Law School, Sotomayor worked as an assistant District Attorney in New York City, and in 1992 became a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In addition to teaching law, she joined the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1998, where she wrote nearly 400 opinions. In 2009, she became the third woman and first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice

I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experiences.

I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights.


Outstanding Woman from the Present-International

Nominees: Michelle Bachelet, Jane Goodall, and Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Inductee: Activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1959- ), a Mayan Indian from Guatemala, won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for promoting social justice and the rights of indigenous people. Active as a teenager with women’s rights and Catholic social reform activities, she and her family fought against the Guatemalan army’s repression of Mayan peasants. After her parents and brother were tortured and killed, she fled to Mexico. Her testimonial, I, Rigoberta Menchú (1984), alerted many to the persecution of indigenous people in Guatemala. Menchú continues to be a global peace activist and advocate for indigenous rights, founding a political party in Guatemala.

This world's not going to change unless we're willing to change ourselves.


2009 Inductees

Outstanding Woman from the Past

Nominees: Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa, and Shirley Chisholm

Harriet Tubman

Inductee: Harriet Tubman (c. 1820-1913), born a slave in Maryland, is the most famous of the “conductors” along the Underground Railroad.  After escaping in 1849, she returned to the South 19 times to help others find freedom.  The woman who once boasted to Frederick Douglass that she “never lost a single passenger” became known as the “Moses of her people” for her fearless and selfless efforts.  Tubman also served as nurse, cook and spy during the Civil War. 

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.


Outstanding Woman from the Present-US

Nominees:   Julia Alvarez, Hillary Clinton, and Condoleezza Rice

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Inductee: Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947- ) is the first First Lady to be elected to public office and the first woman to represent New York as a U.S. Senator. A politically active First Lady, she pushed for expanded health care coverage, especially for uninsured children, and led the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. As Senator, she defended the rights of women and children.  A leading contender in the 2008 race for U.S. president, she was named U.S. Secretary of State in 2009.

There cannot be true democracy unless women's voices are heard. There cannot be true democracy unless women are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives. There cannot be true democracy unless all citizens are able to participate fully in the lives of their country.

Outstanding Woman from the Present-International

Nominees: Christiane Amanpour, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Inductee: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (1938- ), president of Liberia since 2006, is Africa's first elected female head of state. Educated in economics and public administration, she was Liberia’s Minister of Finance in the 1970s, but left as the government became more dictatorial. She spent much of the last 30 years living in exile.  She worked in high positions at Citibank and the World Bank. Known as the “Iron Lady,” she has the monumental task of leading Liberia’s recovery after years of civil war. She is working to end corruption throughout the country and restore peace, education and employment.

It is therefore not surprising that during the period of our elections, Liberian women were galvanized - and demonstrated unmatched passion, enthusiasm, and support for my candidacy. They stood with me; they defended me; they worked with me; they prayed for me. The same can be said for the women throughout Africa. I want to here and now, gratefully acknowledge the powerful voice of women of all walks of life.

2008 Inductees

Outstanding Woman from the Past

Nominees: Helen Keller, Benazir Bhutto, and Mary White Ovington

Helen Keller

Inductee: Helen Keller (1880-1968).The first deaf and blind person to graduate from college, Keller was an author, lecturer and activist. She was a toddler when an illness caused her to lose her sight and hearing. Her family did not give up on communicating with and educating her, and hired Anne Sullivan to teach her. Keller became an international advocate for the blind and for disability rights. An outspoken peace activist, she also worked for women’s suffrage, birth-control rights, and supported socialism. She was a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.

Outstanding Woman from the Present-US

Nominees: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and Margarita Lopez Torres

Margarita López Torres

Inductee: Margarita López Torres (1952- ). López Torres is the first Latina elected to the Civil Court in New York City, and is currently a judge in the New York State Supreme Court’s Surrogate’s Court. Born in Puerto Rico, López Torres moved to Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood with her family when she was six. A Rutgers Law School graduate, López Torres is known as fair and independent. She has fought to change New York State’s secretive judge selection process and continues to try to remove political favoritism from the system and to shatter stereotypes.

We cannot do this job unless we have the respect of those who come before us. We earn that respect, in turn, only by respecting the dignity of those who come before us, and by respecting and fairly applying the laws we are bound to uphold. But, perhaps even more importantly, the public must have confidence that we in the judiciary are truly independent, impartial, and blind to partisan or parochial concerns once we are on the bench. Without this confidence, we truly cannot do our jobs.


Outstanding Woman from the Present-International

Nominees: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mukhtar Mai, and Rigoberto Menchu Tum

Mukhtar Mai

Inductee: Mukhtar Mai (1972? - ). Mai survived a brutal gang-rape to become an activist for gender justice and education. A tribal court in her rural Pakistani village ordered the rape to avenge the honor of a more powerful tribe. Many expected Mai, an illiterate peasant, to commit suicide, the traditional response. But Mai fought back and sued the rapists in Pakistan’s court. She won and with the compensation money the government gave her, she opened two schools in her village. Despite government pressure, she continues to speak out to change her society’s treatment of women.

I had three choices. Either to commit suicide by jumping in a well or shed tears all my life like any other victims in such cases, or challenge the cruel feudal and tribal system and harsh attitudes of society.

2007 Inductees

Outstanding Woman from the Past

Nominees: Susan B. Anthony, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Inductee: Rosa Parks (1913-2005).  She made a living as a seamstress. Her act of defiance on an Alabama bus made her a legendary civil rights activist. She was involved with organizations working for the equal rights of African-Americans. In 1955, she defied one of many laws favoring whites over blacks. She refused to move when a bus driver told her to give her seat to a white man. Her arrest inspired a year-long boycott of buses and fueled the growing civil rights movement.  It forced the end of legal discrimination against African-Americans.

I don't think well of people who are prejudiced against people because of race. The only way for prejudiced people to change is for them to decide for themselves that all human beings should be treated fairly. We can't force them to think that way.

People need to free their minds of racial prejudice and believe in equality for all and freedom regardless of race. We need much more education — especially for those who are narrow-minded. We need as much financial security as we can get. I think it would be a good thing if all people were treated equally and justly and not be discriminated against because of race or religion or anything that makes them different from others.

Outstanding Woman from the Present-US

Nominees: Maya Angelou, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey

Maya Angelou

Inductee: Maya Angelou (1928- ). She survived a childhood marked by racism and sexual abuse to become an award-winning performer, director, memoirist, poet, editor and civil rights activist. New generations continue to draw inspiration from her autobiographies, especially her first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. A Pulitzer Prize nominee for her poetry, Angelou read her commissioned poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration and won a spoken-word Grammy Award for her album of the same name.

Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.
Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.
The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.
I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.
Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
 we weep on England's moors,
 and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.
We seek success in Finland,   
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
 but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Outstanding Woman from the Present-International

Nominees: Wangari Maathai, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum

Wangari Maathai

Inductee: Wangari Maathai (1940- ). "Kenya's Green Militant" won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work saving the environment and empowering women.  The first woman in eastern and central Africa to earn a Ph.D., she founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977. She fought for deforestation and worked with village women to plant trees to protect the soil and sustain people's lives. Through the movement, 30 million trees have been planted and nearly 10,000 women now make a living planting and selling seedlings. Dr. Maathai currently serves as Kenya's Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife.

We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind. To do so effectively, the world needs a global ethic with values which give meaning to life experiences and, more than religious institutions and dogmas, sustain the non-material dimension of humanity. Mankind's universal values of love, compassion, solidarity, caring and tolerance should form the basis for this global ethic which should permeate culture, politics, trade, religion and philosophy. It should also permeate the extended family of the United Nations.


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