*The Women’s History Project turns 30 in March just in time for Women’s History Month. In fact they are credited with instituting Women’s History Month. The observance began in none other than Sonoma, California. As they say, “So goes California, so goes the nation.”
And what started out as a weeklong observance in grade K-12 classrooms to celebrate the little known contributions of women in American history grew into a movement that lead to President Jimmy Carter issuing a Presidential Proclamation declaring the first National Women’s History Week in March.
In 1987 Women’s History Week was expanded into a month after The Women’s History Project successfully lobbied Congress to designate the entire month of March Women’s History Month. They made history that year as quickly as they were attempting to record it. And since their inception, they had honored the contributions of over 300 women with stories of their courage, travail and triumphant.
This year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Writing Women Back Into History.” In the past 30 years they have helped to make sure that the contributions of women were recorded in the annals time. With the advent of the internet, our stories are being documented and disseminated with the touch of single key stroke. In fact, the National Women’s History Project sites that today when you search the Internet with the words “women’s history month,” you’ll find more than 40,500,000 citations pointing to links, articles and historical timelines of women’s accomplishments. That’s astonishing.
The evolution of women has been astonishing despite the obstacles many of us face. The National Women’s History Project has illuminated the accomplishments of renowned as well as unknown women. They have heralded the praises of the unsung and paid tribute to those who have paved the way. And they persevered at a time in our history when women were marginalized and objectified from the pulpits to politics and everything in between.
Before the National Women’s History Project came into existence, women’s history was limited to college curricula, hidden away in obscure text books laden with dust and cobwebs. Each year as the Women’s History Project told “her-story” and unearth the accomplishments of women of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, they illuminated a path and provided a road map for us all. They took role model to a whole new level by showing us if you can see it, you can be it.
In the past they have highlighted women such as Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) who became the first full professor of anesthesiology at Columbia and who developed the internationally adopted Apgar Score System which measures a newborn infant’s heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflexes and color. Alice Coachman who was the first black woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics when she won in the high jump in London in 1948. And Constance Baker Motley (1921 -2005) who had some many ground breaking “firsts” including the first African American woman appointed to the Federal; first African American woman accepted at Columbia Law School; and the first African American woman elected to the New York Senate.
They have also highlighted notables such as Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, Shirley Chisholm Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gloria Steinem and the indomitable spirit of Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
Their 30 years of service have served us well. They have sung our praises. I just want to take a moment and sing theirs. However I think the best way to pay homage to the National Women’s History Project is to keep making history so they have an endless reservoir of stories to tell to future generations of young women who have to look no further than their own homes and their own communities.
Let’s keep making history together. And let celebrate “her-story” during Women’s History Month. (If you have comments about Veronica’s View, email them to [email protected]).