BLACK WOMEN AND WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH

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2039

[March is Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. It is a time to celebrate the contributions that women have made to society. The National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA) has taken the lead in assigning themes to each year honoring women’s history.

The NWHA selected as a 2021 theme Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced. NWHA felt this theme to be especially important because it continues to celebrate the 2020 Suffrage Centennial, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. A victory as important as women winning the right to vote deserves an extended celebration.

Interestingly, this is the year that the elections of 2020, in which Stacey Abrams and other women delivered spectacular election wins for the Democratic Party in Georgia, actually culminated on January 6 in 2021.

Moreover, 2021 is the year that the first Black and female Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, was inaugurated. Couple this with the fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, played a pivotal role in everything that occurred on the political stage in the U.S.

Definitely, we have seen that women are, and have been, more than competent in almost everything that they have attempted.

Though the aforementioned is true, this idea was a long time coming. There was a time when women in the U.S. weren’t allowed to have property. A woman’s place was in the home, and they were always cautioned to wear dresses and skirts, not slacks. They were (and continue to be) subjected to the glass ceiling in corporate America. Today, women are smashing that ceiling everywhere, though there is still a way to go before true parity is attained.

Black women are progressing. They bear an additional burden, however. Interestingly, they face challenges from the Black community, wherein a lot of Black men (and some women) blame the breakup of the Black family on them.

This is true in spite of the fact that it takes two to do the proverbial tango. Yet they plod on, holding families together as best as they can. The late, great Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) has said about women that, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” This is apparently still true, since there is a tacit agreement that no woman will be believed if she alleges sexual misconduct by her bosses, high profile entertainment figures, and others.

But still, Black women rise, leading in diverse fields. And quite frankly, in spite of the oppression they have endured, they still have emerged victorious.

The accomplishments of the great Harriet Tubman, which some say qualify for sainthood, is just one example that stands as evidence. But Tubman is by no means the only one.

Just a brief list of some of the women who have cemented a place for themselves in history include Regina King; Katherine Johnson; Simone Biles, Venus Williams; Serena Williams; Angela Bassett; Diana Ross, Billie Holiday; Bessie Smith; Bessie Coleman; Angela Davis; Mary McLeod Bethune; Cathy Hughes; Dorothy Leavell; Audre Lorde; Octavia Butler; Samella Lewis; Dr. Margaret Burroughs; Shirley Chisholm; Rosa Parks; Claudette Colvin; Madam C.J. Walker and Fannie Lou Hamer.

To these names we can add Mary Church Terrell; Jackie Ormes; Barbara Jordan; Mahalia Jackson; Gwendolyn Brooks; Marian Anderson; Ella Fitzgerald; Alice Walker; Toni Morrison; Sojourner Truth; Sarah Vaughan; Oprah Winfrey; Odetta; Maya Angelou; Phillis Wheatley; Mary Eliza Mahoney; Mary Jane Patterson; Maggie Lena Walker; Wilma Rudolph; Mae Jemison and Alice Dunnigan.

There are so many more women, both known and unknown, but the list is so extensive that they couldn’t all be included here. Just know that Black women have been the backbone of the Black community. And keep in mind that all of the aforementioned women have achieved what they did while facing overwhelming odds. Most of them literally pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made something out of nothing!

Though we are acknowledging the abovementioned women, keep in mind that there are women still doing magnificent things every day. They may be your neighbor, an entrepreneur, your doctor and more. What is the point of establishing a day to honor women if it does not encourage us to see the value of women today, everywhere, here and now! A Luta Continua.

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