March is National Women’s History Month. As we kick things off, two events in our nation’s capital this week provide a powerful framework for the women we will celebrate and the importance of this endeavor.
As Black History Month came to a close, a statue of Rosa Parks was added to Statuary Hall in the Capitol. She is one of only a handful of women to be honored in this way — and truly deserving. It is worth noting for Women’s History that she was not the timid woman pushed too far who shows up in the history books. Instead she was a powerful advocate for social justice who participated in many activities before her famous bus protest. Somehow the old white straight men who write the textbooks like her better the other way…
In other news, yesterday Congress finally passed the Violence Against Women Act. Originally passed in 1994, it has been reauthorized twice; in 2005 it was approved unanimously in the Senate, got 415 yes votes in the House, and was signed by George W. Bush. Somehow the 112th Congress — the nastiest, least effective in recent memory — couldn’t be bothered and let the Act lapse, even though the Senate passed a strong renewal bill. The sticking point was the inclusion of Native American and same-sex couples in the renewal. Freedom and justice for all, anyone? Fortunately, the Senate passed the Act anew in this Congress and it made it through the house despite a last-minute attempt at a straight-white-ladies-only amendment.
The historical treatment of Parks’ legacy and the continuing legislative War On Women demonstrate clearly how much we need Women’s History Month. Like Black History Month, I wish we did not have to celebrate a specific month for Women’s History. Until all groups have equity and fair representation, however, taking time to celebrate the pioneers and allies is critical.
I am including this absolutely lovely and brilliant video by President Jimmy Carter as he reflects on the negative impact of religion and women’s rights. Thank you to my dear friend Brad Fairchild and social justice activist for pointing me to the video. I’m not sure that President Carter could rise in my esteem–what a treasure.
I hope you will enjoy our journey through the lives and actions of some amazing women this month. To whet your appetite, I leave you with one of my favorite School House Rock videos!