Celebrating National Women’s History Month
“Ain’t I a woman?” so wrote Isabella Baumfree also known as Sojourner Truth, in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. One of the greatest speeches ever given on gender equalities, Sojourner must have known how far we could come.
When I was a school girl I was taught only about a few women in history. Year after year, we read about sister soldiers like Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Phyllis Wheatley, Susan B. Anthony, and Marion Anderson. At that time, little did I know of the multiple generations of women that came before me that not only helped to build the country, but also facilitated much of its’ advancement.
The historical steps from these movements evolved into a single day in March of 1977 known as International Working Women’s Day, initially reserved by the United Nations to honor women’s rights and international peace. Each year, reflection is reserved for the struggles and strides of women across the globe and tribute is paid for the opportunities granted and achievements made, disregarding divisions, religion, culture, economics, politics, or linguistics.
The persistence, passion, and personal bravery of women in history have triumphed through many centuries. Margaret Brent advocated for human rights during the early 1600’s. Sojourner Truth raised money for black union soldiers and fought for prison reform and abolition. Susan B. Anthony became perhaps the most powerful organizer of the women’s movement of the 19th century. Zora Neale Hurston was declared the most prolific black woman writer of the 1930’s. Helen Keller not only overcame her own disabilities but wrote, lectured, and worked for social reform to promote progressive causes for persons with disabilities. Harriet Tubman led more than 300 slaves to freedom. Rosa Parks was a civil rights trail-blazer; meek-spirited but strong-willed little woman with a big heart. Clara Barton was determined to care, teach, give, and act. Given the adversity and challenges that these women and many more had to endure, they make our present-day obstacles seem rather manageable.
As women, we are inspired by the political journeys of judicious minds like Barbara Jordan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Shirley Chisholm; the audacity of literary voices like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Alice Walker; and the vocal insurgence of melodic voices like Marian Anderson and Lena Horne. Their victories, crusades, words, and engagement brought about an extensive audacity for change in the 20th century.
Throughout history women of all nationalities have been the keepers at the gate. The month of March bequeaths us with a responsibility to redeem our spirit, reflect on our journey, enlighten, honor, and embrace the considerable progress of women who came before us, and teach the women who will follow us. Queens of the past gave us much to consider and left us with great legacies to model and continue to employ.
We remember our grandmothers who worked outside of the home yet kept our families grounded. Our mothers stitched our dresses from patterns of scratch and made canned preserves from the fruit we picked off the trees in the backyard. And here, there is us – the present-day keepers at the gate who continue to serve in capacities as mothers, sisters, community advocates, organizers, wives, grandmothers, caregivers, mentors, leaders of change, and guardians of our sisters. We are our sisters’ keeper and eventually, we realize just how many hats we do wear and that our obligations are varied, necessary, and divine.
Women revolutionize. Women lead. Women are strong. Women make a difference. Women are phenomenal.
While signing a proclamation that officially designated the month of March as Women’s History Month in the United States, President Obama said, “My Administration has elevated the rights of women and girls abroad as a critical aspect of our foreign and national security policy. Empowering women across the globe is not simply the right thing to do; it is also smart foreign policy.”
Ain’t I a woman?
Love for your Tuesday! International Women’s Day is March 8th.