Women's History Deserves Movement Not Just a Month

March 6, 2014

Angela Moore is the Assistant Director of AmeriCorps at the YWCA Central Alabama. She currently oversees 33 members serving at the YWCA and partnering nonprofit agencies.

One of the joys of my job is the privilege to interact with people from all walks of life in the community. It's during this time that I'm faced with the disheartening reality that many in the city we serve to "eliminate racism and empower women" are not only unfamiliar the YWCA, but are also void of the knowledge of the wonderful works of so many women across our country. It's time for a movement.
 
Not one to shy away from truth, I'll admit that, at one time, I was like so many who are unaware of the need to be aware of the impact of women. I too had little knowledge of the amazing, history-making stories of everyday women who made a difference. Not until connecting with the YWCA in 1997 did I embark on a path leading to my blossoming understanding of the purpose and power of our collective history as women.
 
As a young girl growing up in the western section of Birmingham, I was reared by a self-proclaimed history buff and prided myself on appreciating and celebrating history, particularly relating to the plights of minorities and the poor. I was taught to hear, honor and respectfully handle the story of every person because each of us will one day be, or make history. And still, there was not much connection in my mind concerning the role of women in history. I needed a movement.
 
Prior to the late 1970s, women's history in K-12 school curriculums was virtually non-existent. I'm a child of the 70s, therefore, I didn't know that the journey to Women's History Month started in 1978 with momentum built by the Education Task Force of Sonoma County, California establishing "Women's History Week.” I didn't know that President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8, 1980, as "National Women's History Week.” I certainly didn't know that these efforts finally concluded with Congress declaring March as National Women's History Month in 1987. They made a movement.
 
Like the events that started in Sonoma County, women's history deserves movement, not just a month. Women's history should be something each of us strategically explores in honor of those whose lives were lived to make history. Women's history should be something we aim to understand even as it challenges us to look outside the paradigm of our previously existing understanding. Women's history should be something we thoughtfully seek to speak on behalf of the varying voices of women and girls. Women's history should be something we declare to make and help others make, because we all are history makers. We are the movement.
 
Until the world knows the works of Yolanda Sullivan and Lucy Stone we need a movement. Until the world celebrates the legacies of Suzanne Durham and Abigail Duniway we need a movement. Until the world readily recognizes Sally Ride, Alice Paul, Septima Clark, Hydeia Broadbent, Elizabeth Blackwell, Clara Barton, Vonetta Flowers, Maybelle Sloss, Mary Kay Ash, Hattie Wyatt Caraway and Janet Yellen we need a movement. Until a little girl in Woodlawn knows that this grown girl from West End respects her plight and acknowledges her purpose we need a movement. 

 
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