The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 in countries like Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, but the United States did not recognize March 8th as Internationl Women’s Day until 1975 following the United Nations sponsorship. Soon after, in 1977, women in California began to celebrate the accomplishments of women the entire week. By 1980 President Jimmy Carter declared that March 8th would be the start of National Women’s History Week. Just seven years after, Congress declared the entire month of March as Women’s History Month. Since then, every president has recognized March as such. While women had been celebrating and fighting for rights, such as the right to vote, since the National Women’s Party was founded in 1917, it was monumental for the entire country to celebrate the accomplishments of women.
Women have always had voices, however we were silenced and discredited for years. Much like the idea of children being seen and not heard, women were merely mothers and wives whose opinions were only valid in the classrooms or kitchens. Women were not allowed to express themselves without being accused of being irrational or emotional. Men were the leaders, but the women who stood behind them deserved more credit. Not just credit but rights. The right to vote, the right to work, the right to an education. Women like Susan B.Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell and Frances E.W. Harper recognized that the only way to get these rights, is to fight for them! While these women are no longer with us, and transitioned before International Women’s Day or month existed the seeds they planted have been watered and nurtured by millions of women around the world.
In the last decade alone women, especially women of color, have showed up and showed out! In 2010 Nikki Haley was the first female governor of South Carolina and the first person of an ethnic minority to do so. In 2014 Michelle Janine Howard served as the U.S. Navy’s first female and first African American four star admiral. In 2016, Carla Diane Hayden became the first actual librarian to serve as the 14th Librarian of Congress and the first female to do so. In 2018, Auntie O – The Oprah Winfrey – became the first African American woman to receive the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.
While 2020 was the start of a new decade, we’ve started strong! Kamala Harris became the first woman elected as Vice President of the United States and the most powerful woman in American political History. AND she is a member of a black greek organization and the product of an HBCU! Talk about doing it for the culture!
The United States was a country built on the backs of black people and women, both black and white, but built for white men. While we have some ways to go to be an all inclusive country, we have come so far! I have never been more proud to be a woman, and to be a woman of color. We are resilient, we are strong, we are wise, we are passionate, and we cannot and will not be silenced. Our voices do not just belong to us, but to our daughters, nieces, students, and mentees. The women before us fought believing but not ever knowing there would be a Kamala Harris. We have to fight, believe, and know that now, over 100 years after the fight for women’s rights began, is only the beginning of what is to come.
This week’s post was written by the STM Middle School Language Arts Educator Ms. Leah Waldo