Emancipation trends

We have a long way to go but we’ve also come a long way.

Here are some dates and data that may inspire. The list is far from complete and as both my phones and my harddisks have kept and keep collapsing since I moved into my present flat, I no longer have the references for this list either.


Female landowners are allowed to vote in elections to the States of Friesland in rural districts. Friesland is now part of the Netherlands. It has its own language.


John Chavis is the first black person on record to attend an American college or university, at what is now Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. There is no record of a degree.


Alexander Lucius Twilight becomes the first known African American to graduate from a college in the United States. He received a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont. He became an American educator, minister and politician (first African American elected as a state legislator, serving in the Vermont House of Representatives and the only African American elected as a state legislator before the Civil War).


Abraham Lincoln, who is still a young lawyer at that point, wins a Supreme Court case in Illinois, which frees Nance Legins-Costley from “indentured servitude”, thereby also setting her son free, presumed to be the first black male slave who was freed.


Abraham Lincoln, as president of the U.S., issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which declares all slaves in rebel states that are not under Union control to be free.


The first woman is admitted to Cornell University in the U.S.


Harriette Cooke becomes the first female college professor in the U.S., a full professor with a salary equal to that of the male professors.


New Zealand is the first self-governing colony in the world in which all women are given the right to vote in parliamentary elections. However, women were barred from standing for election until 1919.


Oxford starts awarding degrees to women. Women had studied and completed degrees at Oxford since the 1870s. Men had had full access for centuries. (Italy, on the other hand, was very early with giving women access to universities and degrees.)


Franklin Roosevelt becomes America’s first president who uses a wheelchair. His disability is mostly kept hidden from the public. He is elected to more terms than any other U.S. president.


Women are allowed to vote in Libya, Papua New Guinea (Territory of Papua and Territory of New Guinea), and Sudan.


Women are allowed to vote in the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt.


Women can vote in Switzerland (federal level).


Women can vote in Iraq.


Guion Bluford becomes the first black astronaut to go into space in 1983. At least, that’s what they say. But it had actually happened three years earlier, on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and it was Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, a Cuban of African descent.


Women can vote in Liechtenstein.


The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland forces the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden to accept women’s suffrage. Women can now vote.


Katie Apostolides, a woman born with Down syndrome, studies art with a major in education at Becker College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts.


Brittney Exline enrolls as a freshman student at the University of Pennsylvania, at age 15. This makes her the youngest African-American female ever to enroll at an Ivy League university.


Barack Obama becomes the first non-white and the first black U.S. president.


Otis Kryzanauskas, Canada’s first male midwife, graduates with a bachelor of sciences in midwifery from McMaster University.


Ido Kedar, an autistic guy who spent the first half of his life completely trapped in silence, publishes his first book, Ido in Autismland.

He had to fight to get an education, but succeeded, graduated high school with a diploma and a 3.9 GPA. He is continuing his education in college.

He communicates by typing on an iPad or a letter board. He later publishes a second book, In Two Worlds, which is a novel.


A Kentucky woman with Down syndrome graduates from a technical college.


Ángela Bachiller, a woman born with Down syndrome, is sworn in as city councillor for the Spanish city of Valladolid.


Ezra Roy, a man born with Down syndrome, graduates magna cum laude from Texas Southern University, with a bachelor’s degree with art as his major and a minor in theatre.


Women’s suffrage is introduced in Saudi Arabia along with the right to run for municipal elections.


Hope Banks, a woman born with Down syndrome, graduates from college in the U.S.


AnneCatherine Heigl, a cheerleader from Zionsville, Indiana who was born with Down syndrome, is accepted to George Mason University.


Odette Harris becomes the first black woman professor of neurosurgery in the U.S., at Stanford.


Jonny Peay, a man born with Down syndrome, is accepted to Utah State University.


Nicolas Joncour directs a video, which is published online. He is a pianist, a nonspeaking autistic and a university student in France. He types to communicate. He earlier wrote an article about his right to an education.


A café in Japan starts experimenting with using robots remotely operated by people with severe physical disabilities.


Gender equality still ‘300 years away’, says UN secretary general