Celebrating the Women Who Have Paved Our Way

Today is Women’s Equality Day–a day celebrating the 19th Amendment which guaranteed women the right to vote in the United States.  But if I were to judge history by my Facebook page, I would think that today was the day that dogs got their due some time in the distant past.  Today is National Dog Day.  Imagine that.  National Dog Day getting more Facebook press and presence than Women’s Equality Day!

As I scanned my Facebook page today, I began to wonder–about the day, about the company I keep (on Facebook at least), and even about my own commitment to celebrating and employing the gifts and wisdom of women.

I can’t silence the voices I hear.  And so I will share them:

P1010644My friend and colleague who taught one of the first Women’s Studies courses offered at the secondary level at Burnsville Senior High School in Burnsville, Minnesota in 1972–Mary Louise Lenhardt

Mary introduced me to so many women and to so many ideas.  I still images-6remember the day she dragged me out to hear Gloria Steinam speak in downtown Minneapolis.  Mary taught me how to march and speak and teach for women’s rights and lives.

Mary and I and Gloria Steinam too stand on the shoulders of the women who went before us.  Women who not only marched but also fought to give us, their daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters not only vote but also voice.  And so today on Women’s Equality Day I give a nod of gratitude to my foremothers:images-13

Sojourner Truth who crisscrossed the country advocating for women and for the abolition of slavery.  When abolitionists tried to shout her down, she replied, “Ain’t I a woman?”  A claim she made with confidence and pride

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Today I remember my foremothers who began the fight for women’s rights–Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott–who after being shunted aside at the World Anti-Slavery Convention, determined to come together and call for women’s rights.  In 1848, they held a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, and issued a Declaration of Sentiments which call for the right to vote–a right granted on August 26, 1920.

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Today, I’m celebrating Alice Paul as well.  She was the person who guided the dream into reality.  She really did believe and live her commitment to “Deeds Not Words.”

Their work and words and lives have shouldered so many sisters who have shaped the world in which we live.  Women like Barbara Jordan, a congresswoman from Texas, whose life  in so many ways defined what it meant and means to be a public servant.images-4

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And the historian Joan Kelly who, long before women’s history had won a place in academe, asked the question “Did women have a renaissance?” and thus opened the way to reimagining history itself.

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