March is Women’s History Month — commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.
Women’s History Month first was celebrated by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County, California, Commission on the Status of Women in 1978, then known only as Women’s History Week. The members selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day, which has been celebrated globally since 1911 to mark the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Then, “in 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians — led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance) — successfully lobbied for national recognition,” according to the National Women’s History Museum. “In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week.
“Subsequent presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month.”
The National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes the yearly theme. The theme for 2021 is Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced. The theme carried over from last year, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which was ratified Aug. 18, 1920.
One of many events that urged the ratification of the 19th Amendment included the women’s suffrage march that took place in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 1913. The parade’s purpose, stated in its official program, was to “march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.” Reported participation numbers vary between 5,000 and 10,000 marchers.
Black and white suffragettes were a part of the movement, including the founding members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a historically Black Greek-lettered society that used the march as its first public demonstration.
Fifty-five years later, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority member Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1968. Then, in 1972, she became the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties.
“Her motto and title of her autobiography — “Unbossed and Unbought” — illustrates her outspoken advocacy for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives,” according to Chisholm’s biography on the National Women’s History Museum’s website.
Subsequently, due to past marches and the demand for equality for many years, Kamala Harris, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., was the first woman elected to serve as vice president of the United States in 2020.
We salute the achievements of all women worldwide!
Campus events celebrate Women’s History Month
The Mercer University community is celebrating Women’s History Month with the following events.
- Macon Periods Easier Mercer Giveback Challenge — This is a philanthropic event sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to help combat period poverty in Macon-Bibb County. The challenge, which began March 1, will conclude at 4 p.m. March 31. A collection box is outside the Diversity and Inclusion Office in the Connell Student Center, Room 210. Requested items include menstrual hygiene products such as pads, panty liners and flushable wipes, as well as reusable small makeup bags or plastic sandwich-sized bags. Anyone can collect and donate.
- Alumni Bear Talk with Cara Davis Little, “How to Love What You Do On and Off the Clock” — As an undergraduate, Little majored in political science with a minor in communications. She currently serves as a labor and employment policy adviser for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Join us at 6:30 p.m. March 9 on Zoom.
- Diversity Day — This event, to be held 3-6 p.m. March 18 on Cruz Plaza, will feature diverse performances, vendors, food, music and a cultural fashion show. Diversity Day is sponsored by the Minority Mentor Program and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
- Women’s History Month Panel — The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the African American Alumni Network will host a women’s history panel 6:30-7:30 p.m. March 24 on Zoom.
- The Rise of the New Montgomery: Politics, Race and Economics Panel — This panel discussion, featuring Montgomery, Alabama, Mayor Steven Reed and First Lady Tamika Reed, will occur at 5:30 p.m. March 31 in the President’s Dining Room and on Zoom.