March is Women’s History Month, a special time to respect and appreciate women and the contributions and achievements they have made and will continue to make. 

Ms. Nita did not hesitate to tell people how they should live.  Whether you were in a rush or not, Ms. Nita would grab your arm and tell you some quote she had heard or read and memorized. 

“Life is just a short walk from the cradle to the grave – and it sure behooves us to be kind to one another along the way.”  Ms. Nita would add, “That was said by Alice Childress, 1916–1994; an American playwright, actress, and author; the only African-American woman to have written, produced, and published plays for four decades.

Ms. Nita would then ask, “Did you know that?  Did you ever hear that before?”  If you were wise, you would say “no” because if you said “yes,” Ms. Nita would third degree you as to where, when, and under what circumstances the quote had been said to you and by whom. 

Ms. Nita was a retired schoolteacher.  She had been the kind of teacher that was truly invested in her students as well as their families.  Her school administrators were not always comfortable with what Ms. Nita quoted to families, but they saw that the families respected and appreciated her interest in their well-being.  When families talked to Ms. Nita about their problems and their suffering, Ms. Nita shared quotes to try to comfort or encourage them or make them feel better about themselves. 

“Let nothing disturb thee, nothing affright thee; all things are passing.” Saint Teresa of Avila; a Carmelite nun, Roman Catholic saint, Spanish mystic, poet and author, reformer who lived from 1515-1582.

“Although the world is very full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller, 1880-1968, American writer and lecturer, political activist, humanitarian and co-founder of the ACLU.

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”  Beverly Sills, 1929-2007, American operatic soprano; arts administrator who became chairwoman first of Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera Company.

“Put a rope around your neck and many will be happy to drag you along.” – Egyptian proverb.

Ms. Nita liked to recite her favorite quote, which was attributed to Kay Koplovitz (1945-  , author, founder of the USA Network and the first woman to serve as a network president in television history: “The most important wisdom I can offer is to never let others define your horizons.  Identify what success means to you and then keep your eye on that prize.” 

This quote filled Ms. Nita with joy, and she would remind anyone within hearing that women were very much a part of the Civil Rights movement.  She would then bob her head up and down and clap her hands as she sang the lyrics to the song, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.”

 (Chorus) Hold on, Hold on. Keep your eyes on the prize,
Hold on,.
Freedom’s name is mighty sweet, Soon one day we’re gonna meet.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on.

 (Chorus) The only chain that a man can stand, Is the chain of hand in hand.

 (Chorus) But the one thing we did right, Was the day we started to fight.

(Chorus) We’ve met jail and violence too, But God’s love has seen us through.

 (Chorus) I know what I think is right, Freedom in the souls of black and white.

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...