March is Women’s History Month. Kudos to those women who were not (are not) afraid to stand up for what was (is) right.
The women’s club to which Aunt Marian belonged was to meet that evening at its usual place, a large room in a church a few blocks from where Aunt Marian lived. The club was made up of about 30 black women, all from the neighborhood.
Aunt Marian walked into her apartment at about 6:05 p.m. after having worked all day. She was tired and would rather have stayed home and relaxed that evening, but she strongly supported the club’s goals of higher education, responsible parenting, jobs and community involvement.
The meeting was to start at 7 p.m., so Aunt Marian decided to just heat up a can of soup so she could get there on time.
By the time she finished eating and browsing through the newspaper, it was 6:35 p.m.
She got up, put the pan and spoon in the sink (she hadn’t bothered to put the soup in a bowl) and went to the bathroom to get ready for the meeting.
When Aunt Marian arrived at the meeting at 6:55 p.m., there were more than 100 women there. Aunt Marian sat down in the back row.
At about 7:05 p.m. the club president stood before those gathered and opened the meeting with a welcome to members and guests.
She was followed by the secretary’s report. The president then spoke enthusiastically about the approaching election and how everyone should “get out and vote and encourage others to vote.”
Her words were applauded.
The president continued, “One of the candidates has graciously volunteered to attend our meeting tonight. Candidate John Smith, please stand and give us some words.”
The president clapped and the courteous attendees clapped as Candidate Smith rose from the front row and faced the attendees. He was the only man in the room as well as the only white person.
When the applause stopped, Candidate Smith spoke. “Good evening, everyone. I am so glad to have this opportunity to speak to you colored ladies.”
Uh oh! Aunt Marian flinched.
“Colored ladies” had hit a bad nerve, but Aunt Marian remained quiet and listened to what the candidate had to say.
When it was time for comments and questions from the audience, Aunt Marian waited until no one else raised a hand to be heard before jumping up.
She hadn’t raised her hand. “Mister Smith,” Aunt Marian bellowed, “I don’t know where you’ve been, but we black women don’t appreciate being called ‘colored ladies.’ I repeat that I don’t know where you’ve been either, because you haven’t done a thing for our community since you’ve been in office, even when we asked you to. You know as well as I do that the only reason you’re here tonight is because you’re going to need black people’s votes. Now, how many of you women here tonight agree with me? Get up. Let Candidate Smith know that we know what his game is. Get up.”
Women stood up. Candidate Smith sat down.
The president thanked everyone for coming. The meeting was adjourned.