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March is Women’s History Month, a time to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions women have made throughout history and contemporaneously.
The theme for this year is, “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”
March 8 was International Women’s Day. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911, then expanded to Women’s History Week in 1981, then expanded to a month in 1987.
Although she was not a scientist, after seeing Ms. Dorothy Irene Height featured on a calendar for the month of March, I decided to write about her as a woman who was innovative and imaginative and inspired innovation and imagination in the struggle for human rights. She was an educator and social activist.
Ms. Height, an African American, was born on March 24, 1912, in Richmond, Va., but her family moved to Pennsylvania when she was very young. She was accepted at Barnard College in 1929, but was denied entrance because of the school’s policy to only admit two black students per year. She consequently attended and received her bachelors and masters degrees from NYU and completed postgraduate work at Columbia University.
Ms. Height joined the National Council of Negro Women when she was 25 and fought for equal rights for both African Americans and women. She organized “Wednesdays in Mississippi” in the ’60s, which “brought together black and white women from the North and South to create a dialogue of understanding.”
She encouraged President Eisenhower to desegregate schools and President Lyndon Johnson to appoint African American women to positions in government. She and other African American women and men formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom in 1990 to show suppport for Roe vs. Wade. (Wikipedia)
Ms. Height received many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. The title of the musical play “If This Hat Could Talk” – based on Ms. Height’s memoirs, captured Ms. Height’s proclivity for fancy hats.
Ms. Height helped pave the way for the rights of all Americans by fighting for the rights of women and African Americans. “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” Fannie Lou Hamer, African American, October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977; African American voting rights activist and civil rights leader.
Ms. Height died on April 20, 2010, but her legacy lives on.
“The true aim of female education should be, not a development of one or two, but all the faculties of the human soul, because no perfect womanhood is developed by imperfect culture.”
– Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, African American, September 24, 1825 to February 20, 1911; lecturer, abolitionist, poet and activist, worked for equal rights for African Americans and for women.
“It’s time for America to get right.” – Fannie Lou Hamer, an African American.