Celebrate Women's History Month and International Women's Day
History helps us learn who we are, but when we do not know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished. The impact of women’s history might seem abstract and insignificant, and less pressing than the immediate struggles today. But to ignore the vital role that women’s dreams and accomplishments play in our own lives would be a great mistake. We draw strength and inspiration from those women who came before us – and those remarkable women working among us today. They are part of our story, and a truly balanced and inclusive history recognizes how important women have always been in American society. March is a chance for us to acknowledge and learn more about all of the women who came before us--pioneers in the sciences, in politics, in literature, in art, in music. It is a chance for us to recognize untold stories of trailblazing women around the world.
International Women's Day has been commemorated globally on March 8th since 1911 and every U.S. President has marked March as Women's History Month since 1995. While the right to vote is a common topic when examining women's history, there are many more issues, perspectives, and accomplishments that require investigation across history, literature, and the arts to more fully appreciate and understand what women's history in the U.S. encompasses. Women's accomplishments have crossed racial and socioeconomic boundaries in every field imaginable. Their voices and actions have taken us into previously uncharted waters and shattered glass ceilings. Women whose actions continue to affect us even today.
In March 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring Women’s History Week to align with International Women’s Day (March 8th), which has been recognized around the world since March 1911. The following year, on August 4, 1981, the U.S. Congress established Women’s History Week as a federally recognized commemoration of the accomplishments, perspectives, and experiences of women in the United States with a Joint Resolution, Public Law 97-28. By 1986, 14 states had declared March as Women’s History Month. This momentum and state-by-state action was used as the rational to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March as National Women’s History Month. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. Since 1995, a special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.
Choose a book this month about any of these brave and courageous women who dared to make change and who dared to challenge the status quo. Help us to read and write women back into history, not just this month but every month. Come on in and take a look!
Here are a few reads to get you started:
Dinners With Ruth: Memoir on the Powers of Friendship by Nina Totenberg
Burn the Page: The True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change by Danica Roem
Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation by Hannah Gadsby
The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkerson by Misty Copeland
Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years by Joy Harjo
Brujas: The Magic and Power of Witches of Color by Lorraine Monteagut, PhD
The White Devil's Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco's China Town by Julia Flynn Siler
Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore