Three Groundbreaking Arkansas Women who helped push America forward

March 30th, 2021 by

March is, of course, Women’s History Month, and here at Landers Toyota of Little Rock, we love celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of our state’s female pioneers. Seen below, check out brief biographies of three Arkansas-born women who helped create a better future for us all, leaving an indelible mark on not only Arkansas but our nation at the world.

U.S. Senator Hattie Wyatt Caraway: Did you know that Arkansas was the first state in the nation to send a woman to the U.S. Senate? It’s true. Hattie Wyatt Caraway, who was born in Northeast Arkansas, served in the U.S. Senate between 1931 and 1945. Sadly, Sen. Caraway’s tenure in the Senate began in tragedy, after her husband, U.S. Senator from Arkansas Thad Caraway, passed away while in office. Seeking to help Hattie Caraway mitigate her grief by carrying on her husband’s work for Arkansas in the U.S. Senate, she was nominated to finish out his term, and was later elected outright to two more terms, becoming the first ELECTED female U.S. Senator. She also was the first female senior Senator from any state, and the first woman to ever chair a Senate committee. She died in 1950, and is buried in Jonesboro. Fun Fact: she also became the first female Arkansan to appear on a U.S. Postage stamp in 2001.

Maya Angelou: Raised desperately poor in the tiny town of Stamps, Arkansas, poet, singer, actress and author Maya Angelo packed a lot of living into her life, including working as a cab driver at a time when the profession was almost entirely men, singing in nightclubs, starring in Hollywood films and, of course, writing the poetry, essays and memoirs through which she found her greatest and most lasting fame. Through the years, her written works won or were nominated for all the most prestigious prizes in literature, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Her best-known work, the semi-autobiographical novel “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” was hailed by critics as an instant classic of American literature, and has since gone on to be included in the curriculum of schools across the nation. One of her most visible moments on the national stage was when Angelou read her long poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at the inauguration of president Bill Clinton in 1993.

Mary Steenburgen: There are a handful of Arkansas actors who have gone to Hollywood and made it big, but few have achieved the stature of Academy Award winner Mary Steenburgen. Born in Newport in Northeast Arkansas, Steenburgen was raised in North Little Rock. After studying her craft and appearing in many stageplays, Steenburgen made her big-screen debut with a coveted starring role in the 1978 film “Goin’ South,” directed by Jack Nicholson. From there, her career has been packed with challenging, big-budget roles, from independent films to summer blockbusters. Included in Steenburgen’s filmography are a host of still well-respected films, including “Parenthood,” “Step Brothers, “Philadelphia,” “What’s eating Gilbert Grape,” “Ragtime,” “The Butcher’s Wife,” “Back to the Future 3” and others. In 1981, Steenburgen won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn in “Melvin and Howard.” Married to TV legend Ted Danson, Steenburgen and Danson are sometimes seen in Little Rock, where they own a residence.

We’re proud of the accomplishments of these uniquely successful women from Arkansas, just as we’re proud of ever Arkansan who finds a way to excel in their field. As the old saying goes: Showing up is the most important part of any pursuit. If you want to arrive in style in a quality Toyota vehicle, come see us today for a test drive, or check out our full selection of Toyota vehicles at our website right now.

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