Advocate and educator
Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
Fed up by her white peers hiding behind the dictionary definition of racism, Drake University graduate Kennedy Mitchum convinced Merriam-Webster to change its definition to include systemic oppression. In her email to the dictionary’s editors, Mitchum cited the disproportionate rate at which Black women are dying of childbirth compared to their white counterparts as an example of a broken, racist system that has hurt the Black community. She also pointed to inequities in the prison system and the healthcare field to prove her point that the current definition of racism was outdated. As a result, Merriam-Webster editors agreed to revisit the word’s definition to more accurately reflect the biases and prejudices woven into society.
In honor of Women’s History Month, In The Know is highlighting changemakers making an impact on the world through cultural advancement, community leadership, and entrepreneurial innovation. See all of the honorees here.