Category Archives: Women’s History

Rekindling the vision of the 19th Amendment: A centennial challenge

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

That’s it – that’s the full text of the 19th Amendment, words crafted with care by suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  The proposed Amendment was first introduced in 1878, ultimately passed decades later.

Yesterday, Sunday June 4, 2017, marked the 98th anniversary of Congressional passage of the 19th Amendment.  The House of Representatives voted 304-90 and the Senate voted 56-25 in favor of the Amendment — which was then sent to the states for ratification.  Most times the reminder would have inspired a flicker of awareness; in light of the times, the occasion ignited a call to action!

The times demand that we embrace the centenary of this monumental moment in the nation’s history.  Women and their male supporters earned the right to vote in the face of bullying, misogyny, alternative facts (i.e. lies), money and mockery.  They resisted, collaborated, and kept a steady eye on the mission.  They understood that this democracy depends on the will of an informed electorate.  They spoke truth to power – and they succeeded.

On June 4, 2019 the nation will commemorate the centenary of Congressional passage of the joint resolution that led to passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, aka the Woman’s Suffrage Amendment, to the Constitution.   Recognition of the centenary of the 19th Amendment has the potential to expand our knowledge and appreciation of our roots and hone our collaborative strategies. If we seize the possibilities, awareness of the 19th Amendment can fuel a movement based on bipartisanship and acceptance of the fact that thoughtful policy has the power to trump pernicious prevarication and the over-rated glories of wealth.

June 4, 1919 was a pivotal step in the very long struggle.  A robust centennial campaign has the potential to magnify the import of the Amendment we take for granted a century later.  It seems to me that the best way to honor our forebears is to learn about their struggle, their strategies, their commitment to honor policy over politics.  It may seem early to celebrate – it’s certainly not too early to plan.

Though most long-range planning projects focus on a budget, the coin of the realm in this instance is the truth of history.  The work begins with serious research, the raw material of which is already on library shelves or in the digital stratosphere.  Recognition of the day is a moment in time; the real story lies in digging into the true facts and forces that shapedthe suffragette movement.  The mission, hopes, tribulations and ultimate success of a powerful crusade are recorded in carefully-chosen  words and photos that capture the era and rekindle the spirit that imbued the suffragettes.

This early mention of the forthcoming commemoration is simply a starting point – with special reference to the struggle for equality as it played out in Minnesota.   Future posts will focus on the immense archival records, literature, photos, memorabilia and other resources that make the movement for women’s right to vote  come alive. My hope is that the efforts of those who fought for women’s rights will inspire us to get up and do what needs to be done to assure that the vision and labors of the suffragettes inform and inspire us to value and protect an engaged and informed electorate that makes democracy work.

The principle of self-government cannot be violated with impunity. The individual’s right to it is sacred – regardless of class, caste, race, color, sex or any other accident or incident of birth ~~ Susan B. Anthony

 

Equal Pay Day – In case you thought we’d solved that problem

A reminder before you get decked out for work that Tuesday, April 4 is Equal Pay Day 2017.  This is the symbolic day when women’s earnings catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year.  Some would have the public believe that the wage gap has been closed – these are the people who look at high paid female corporate executives, not at clerical workers or even long-term professional women whose lifetime incomes are affected by a host of obstacles to equal pay.

The early day reminder is that many women will decide to wear red on Equal Pay Day to emphasize how long it takes women to catch up.

It’s also worth remembering that it’s been over a half century since the Equal Pay Act became law.  After 54 years’ women now make an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man earns; at this rate, it could take at least 70 more years before the gap closes.

It’s generally assumed that the pay differential results from women’s choices, particularly to interrupt their careers by taking time to rear their families.  Still, Olivia Mitchell, director of the pension research council at the Wharton School, avers that this does not recognize other significant contributors including women’s lack of negotiating skills and the bias women face from employers – in other words, the “penalty” of childbirth and rearing are a biased excuse for a discriminatory situation.  I agree with Dr. Mitchell’s analysis – and would add a host of other reasonable explanations of what is a thorough explainable – and inexcusable – disputation.

A small sampling of resources for more on Equal Pay Day:

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/04/147705/what-is-equal-pay-day-gender-wage-gap-facts?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email_share

https://www.pay-equity.org/day.html

http://fortune.com/2017/04/03/equal-pay-day-2017-wage-gap/

Definitely check the excellent resource guide prepared by the American Association of University Women – a more systemic approach to a systemic problem.  http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-equal-pay-day/

For the lark of it, see how far you get with Cheryl Sandberg’s 20% counts campaign.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/04/03/lean-in-sheryl-sandberg-20-percent-counts-campaign-to-close-gender-pay-gap/99841634/

In any event, no matter where you fit into the world of work and pay for work, take time to think about the inequity of unequal pay and the impact of low for women not only on individuals but on families and on the long-term welfare of older women.

 

UPDATE: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protections-for-women-workers/ar-BBzink0?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=UE01DHP

UPDATE: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/trump-just-revoked-protections-women-workplace

 

 

Speaking Truth to Power-Black Women Journalists Who Showed the Way

This post is actually an harmonic convergence — in part necessitated by a technology glitch that curtailed writing, more important inspired by these facts:   1) African American History Month ended before this post got written;  2) we are beginning Women’ History Month, and 3) the demonization of the American press calls for positive resistance, including some real facts about some of the nation’s most powerful journalists.  

The disrespectful treatment of April Ryan actually propelled this quest  to learn more about the role that African American women journalists have played in speaking truth to power.  What I have found is a wealth of strong women whose names are little known and whose stories I am eager to learn and share through Women’s History Month posts.

Great as she was, challenged to face a digital age in which social media are the information source of choice, Gwen Ifill built on the strength of her forebears.  These are but a few of the African American women who have paved a road that Ifill, April Ryan, Charlayne Hunter-Gault,  Joy Reid and countless others are challenged to walk in the digital age.

What I have learned inspires confidence in the strength of journalists supported by the prevailing power of the First Amendment and the essential role of this nation’s free press.  I’ve also learned that women have played an unheralded role as supporters of all Americans’ right to know.

Following are just some of the African American women journalists about whom I’m learning.  They are posted in no particular order — except for the first entry who gets dibs because she’s a Minnesota native.

Marvel Cooke (1903-2000) was born in Mankato!  Her family eventually moved to Prospect Park where they were the first African American neighbors in this Minneapolis community.  She was the first African American woman to work at a mainstream newspaper.  In the 1930’s she helped to create The Newspaper Guild, a labor group that actually conducted a lengthy strike at the Amsterdam News.  Cooke described her experiences working as a domestic in white homes under the title, I was a slave.  There is a helpful entry about Marvel Cooke on MNOpedia http://www.mnopedia.org/person/cooke-marvel-jackson-1901-2000  (note: I don’t understand the inconsistency of dates, but I’m working on it…)

Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893) was a lawyer, suffragist and journalist whose family fled to Canada after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850.  There she edited a Canadian newspaper, the Provincial Freeman for Black refugees who fled to Canada.  As an advocate for suffrage for African American women  Cary founded the Colored Women’s Progressive Franchise Association in DC in 1888 a forebear of the women’s club/sorority movement. As the first woman student at Howard University Law School she was not permitted to graduate because DC did not admit women to the bar; she returned to Howard a decade later to receive her law degree at age 60.

Maria W. Stewart (1803-1879) was a speaker/preacher before she was a journalist.  An ardent supporter of  African-American exceptionalism, always with religious theme, Stewart befriended William Lloyd Garrison, famous leader of the anti-slavery movement.  Garrison published several of her “Meditations” and speeches in The Liberator, the anti-slavery journal to which Stewart became a regular contributor.  One indication of Stewart’s legacy is the fact that the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church USA commemorates her contributions, along with those of William Lloyd Garrison, every year on December 17.

Delilah Leontium Beasley (1871-1934) was a native of Cincinnati, Ohio.  She was a newspaper columnist for the Oakland Tribune.  Beasley was the first African American women to be published regularly in a major metro newspaper.  Beasley told the story of early California’s African American leaders  in The Negro Trail-Blazers of California, published in 1919.

Charlotte Bass (1874-1969) was the first African American women to own and operate a newspaper in the US.  Incidentally Bass was the first African American women to be nominated for Vice President of this country.   She was born on Valentine’s Day in 1874  and died at age 95 in 1969.  It is likely that she was the first African American woman to own and operate a newspaper, the California Eagle, from 1912 until 1951.  In 1952 she was nominated for VP as a candidate of the Progressive Party.

Alice Allison Dunnigan (1906-1983) was the first African American woman correspondent to receive White House credentials and the first Black female member of the Senate and House of Representative galleries.  Her story is told in her autobiography, Alice A. Dunnigan: A Black Woman’s Experience.

Ethel L. Payne,(1911-1991) “combined a passionate concern for the rights of Black people in all parts of the world with a talent for investigative reporting and writing.”  Granddaughter of a Pullman Porter  Payne’s early life in Chicago was fraught with financial concerns and racial discrimination.  In time she began writing for the Chicago Defender, a Black newspaper published as an expose of immoral and illegal practices within the U.S. military.  In time Payne traveled the world, reporting on African American troops, particularly in Vietnam.  She also worked for CBS as both a radio and TV commentator.

My hope is to learn and share more about these and other Black women journalists during Women’s History Month.  I would be grateful for readers’ suggestions of other women whose stories should be must be recorded and shared.

 

Black Nurses in our history – Some leaders and their stories

The character of a nurse is as important as the knowledge she possesses. Carolyn Javis

 

Though Black History Month features many tributes to African Americans in medicine it has finally dawned on me – slowly but surely – that there is a serious absence of programming that celebrates the contributions of Black Nurses!   And so the search began….

In short time I found myself immersed in this comprehensive guide to the topic: Black Nurses in History: A Bibliography and Guide to Web Resources: (http://libguides.rowan.edu/blacknurses} The guide is bursting with the stories of African American women who have served with courage the medical profession and the needs of their patients. These women have been powerful in various professional nursing roles – most often as direct care providers who rose to the challenge to serve the needs of their fellow women and men whose health was imperiled by disease, war, childbirth, working conditions, poor nutrition or other threats to their physical or mental wellbeing

The bibliography introduced me to the American Association for the History of Nursing (https://www.aahn.org/feature.html) and to Diane Brownson’s nursing history links:  (http://diannebrownson.tripod.com/history.html)

With time, and a few detours, I made my way to some grand stories of little-known, and a couple of famous, African American nurses.

  • https://travelnursingcentral.com/blog/nursing/6-famous-african-american-nurses/ – Brief stories of Mary Seacole who served in the Crimean War, Mary Elizabeth Mahoney, the first African American licensed RN, Hazel W. Johnson-Brown, the first African American head of the US Army Nurses Corps, Estelle Massey Osborne, the first African American woman to earn a Master’s degree in Nursing, as well as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, who need no introduction.
  • Some of these women and others are profiled in this introduction to “Ten African American Nurses Who Changed the Course of History.” In addition to the women named in the preceding entry this listing includes the stories of Adah Belle Samuel Thomas, Lillian Holland Harvey, Betty Smith Williams, Mabel Keaton Staupers, and Susie King Taylor – edifying stories of some of history’s finest health care providers!   http://www.associates-degree-in-nursing.org/10-african-american-nurses-who-changed-the-course-of-history/

There are countless stories yet to be recorded. These are just some ready points of access to stories of nursing pioneers who may propel students of the medical profession, African American history or Women’s history to further explore that cries out for exploration.   The hope is that the stories of these committed women will inspire African American women of all ages to pursue careers as nurses and other health care providers.

Today these organizations continue to serve the specific needs of African American nurses:

  • The National Black Nurses Association, organized in 1971 under the leadership of Dr. Lauranane Sams, former Dean and Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing, Tuskegee University. The NBNA services 150,000 African American nurses with 92 chartered chapters in 35 states.
  • The Minnesota chapter of NBNA is the Minnesota Black Nurses Association 2400 Park Avenue South, Suite 181, Minneapolis, MN 55404 – Email: shirlynn7@gmail.com – Telephone #: 612-353-5136

Women’s March — Is that all there is?

Remember this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCRZZC-DH7M

The pussyhat has been decommissioned and passed on to someone who needs a hat-cum-history, the dust has settled and the world has not shifted on its axis. Is that all there is?

Not so, say tens of thousands of women, families, marchers and observers who experienced last weekend’s Women’s March – which has now become more like the March that raised awareness of the obvious.

For those interested in catching up and keeping up, there are boundless opportunities.

Some articles that suggest response and follow-up:

http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/next-steps-after-the-womens-march.html

This is but a sampling of what’s happening  – the Women’s March is not history history, only  the beginning.  It is definitely not “all there is.”

Extra, Extra – Read all about it!!!

 

UPDATE — Save those placards!

http://theartnewspaper.com/news/news/signs-of-the-times-museums-preserve-the-placards-from-the-women-s-marches-/

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Gloria Everson
January 27 at 6:27pm
Hello-

Since this is an event page and our event is over, there are some things Facebook won’t allow us to do here. We need to transition, but it will not happen overnight.

We still have so much work to do; therefore, here are a new business page and a new group page. You know how important posts could get lost as more and more posts were added to the feed? The business page helps us with that. This page will not change often but will allow the important stuff to be easily located.

The group page is more of a social page. The privacy settings are on ‘open’ now, so anyone can join. In about two weeks, we will change it to a ‘closed’ group, which simply means new people need to be approved and any current member of the page can do the approving.

It will be tough moving from our home, but it is for the best if we want to move forward. Please ‘like’ and ‘follow’ both of these pages.

New Business/Non-profit page
https://www.facebook.com/HearOurVoiceMN/

New Group page
https://www.facebook.com/groups/375965222773592/

Don’t miss this graphic depiction of the March!

http://hyperallergic.com/354457/the-womens-march-the-first-28-hours/?utm_source=sumome&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sumome_share

 

 NEW: Comic take on the Women’s March:  http://hyperallergic.com/354071/a-comics-newspaper-for-the-womens-resistance/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fights%20to%20Withhold%20Paintings%20from%20Capitol%20Hill%20Show%20Their%20Political%20Power%20Daily&utm_content=Fights%20to%20Withhold%20Paintings%20from%20Capitol%20Hill%20Show%20Their%20Political%20Power%20Daily+CID_7b37e2121a87596416f702b8dd5da3bc&utm_source=HyperallergicNewsletter&utm_term=A%20Comics%20Newspaper%20for%20the%20Womens%20Resistance

Disability March on Saturday, January 21, enables inclusivity

UPDATE:

Activism isn’t always access – and the Women’s March on Washington is no exception. 

And this is why some marchers and march planner have created the Disability March. (http://mashable.com/2017/01/18/disability-march-womens-march-on-washington/#FxqT7IdFrmqt)

My personal suggestion is that anyone who is unable – or even hesitant – to participate in the march think about clicking in to participate. This applies to anyone who may have problems walking, or who simply doesn’t have the time to participate in either the state or national march

The Disability March is an all-volunteer effort, made for the disability, by the disability community. It’s also an official co-sponsor of the national Women’s March in Washington.

Understand that this is not simply streaming the DC March so people with disabilities can view! As of last week over 50 online “marchers had signed up to participate in the virtual march. They and countless others will participate by sharing their opinions and stories and statements online. All will be uploaded Friday and Saturday to coincide with the DC March;

Sonya Huber,  one of the organizers of the Disability March, is quoted as saying:

I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching – even though the march will of course include many disabled people…Since the disabled community is going to be so impacted by the Republican agenda, it seemed that giving people a platform to tell their individual series was most appropriate.

This is also a good example of the ways in which resources created by and for people with disabilities serve the needs of a much broader community.

Submissions due by January 20.  To participate online, click here:

https://disabilitymarch.com/join-the-march/

Note: I had some difficulty with this link – just keep trying or go to the facebook Women’s March on Washington – Disability Caucus, twitter #disabilitymarch or email disability@gmail.com

 

 

 

Women’s March on Washington – Minnesota Style

Though some of us may know a politico or campaign contributor who is headed to DC for the inauguration later this month, most of us know (and envy) a friend or family who will be visiting Our Nation’s Capitol the following day to join the Women’s March on Washington. (https://www.womensmarch.com) on Saturday, January 21, not coincidentally the day after the Inauguration. These are the Minnesota marchers who will be hopping on the bus – or more convenient transport — to venture 1100 miles, don a fuchsia pussy hat and join hundreds of colleagues at the Capitol, then march from the Capitol  down the Mall to share a determined message to the new regime.

What some Minnesotans may not yet know is that the Women’s March on Washington has spawned a nation of state and local “sister” marches throughout the nation. None will be more energetic, committed, informed — probably cold – than the Minnesota marchers. Here are the basics as found on the very lively FB site for the Minnesota march: (https://www.facebook.com/events/1798874673734173/)

Starting at 10am we will meet on the John Ireland Blvd Bridge in front of Minnesota History Center (near the corner of John Ireland Blvd and Kellogg Blvd). From 10-11am we plan to get pumped up, meet one another, form new friendships and likely hear from a motivational speaker (who is yet to be determined). Please plan to arrive no later than 10:30am. At 11am we will start our march heading northeast on John Ireland Blvd toward the Capitol. We plan to arrive at the Capitol around 11:30/12pm. From 12pm until 2pm we will have a rally including entertainment, speakers, etc. If you are unable to participate in the march itself but wish to participate in this event, please feel free to join us at the Capitol around noon. The rally will end at 2pm.

These days both the national and, even more, the Minnesota sites are bursting with updates, anecdotes, calls to action and more! Anyone with a device and a comfy chair can keep up with the latest, share ideas, express an opinion and support the marchers in Minnesota and in DC.

There will be a post event gathering at sites around the state, including at the East Side Freedom Library which is opening its doors, providing hot beverages and encouraging marchers, including virtual marchers, to share their experiences, opinions, commitments and hopes. (http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/event/womens-march-open-house/)

UPDATE: Emily’s List announcement:  http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/watch/emily-s-list-to-sponsor-women-s-march-on-washington-847831619542

UPDATE 1/6 – The Minnesota to Washington Women’s March has joined the blogosphere:     http://www.eramn.org/national-march-blog