by Anthony R. Green
It is March! You know what that means - it is time to celebrate women (or womyn)! Castle of our Skins organically and purposefully does this year-round through its diverse programming, staffing of organization and boards, collaborations with artists of various practices, BIBA Blog posts, and commissions. Our strongest example of this celebration to date is our New Music USA awarded project Ain't I a Woman?, which featured music all by Black women composers, featured women musicians (as well as male), women business owners, and a frequent collaborater L'Merchie Frazier. Castle of our Skins is also proud to work with the winners of its latest call for proposals! Celebrating women, just like celebrating the achievements of Black people, should and must happen constantly. However, if those celebrations happen to amplify at certain times of the year because of proclamations and sundry, then let's honor the work that people did to enact those special recognitions as well.
With that stated, let's examine the history of Women's History Month a bit. In 1980, a group of women's history activists decided to form an organization called the National Women's History Project (NWHP). As a reminder, the landscape for women in 1980 - only 39 years ago - was quite deplorable. In textbooks, women occupied only 3% of the content. Young girls and young women had few role models. Youth and children (all genders) generally assumed that women generally did nothing, and their role in history was minimal. Wanting to change this, the NWHP grouped and strategized. Meanwhile, even though the first Internation Women's Day was in 1911, the late 70s saw a surge in Women's History Week celebrations, with a notable conference organzied by Gerda Lerner in 1979. This momentum culminated in President Jimmy Carter (Democrat) issued a proclamation declaring the first official National Women's History Week in March of 1980, the year that the NWHP was founded.
Seven years later, banking on the momentum of certain areas of the USA turning their week-long celebrations into month-long celebrations (by 1986, 14 states were celebrating Women's History Month in March), the NWHP petitioned congress to pass a statute designating March as the official Women's History Month. Further work was done that encouraged the president every year to proclaim this recognition in March. From 1988 to the present, these yearly proclamations have been issued.
Of particular note, in 2011, the administration of President Barack Obama (Democrat) issued a report entitled Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being. This report was the first report of its kind issued after the 1963 federal report produced by the Commission on the Status of Women, when John F. Kennedy (Democrat, assassinated) was president.
March is a time to celebrate women. Hopefully all of these celebrations will lead to greater equality, glass ceilings being shattered, and certain men (and women) stepping off of their high horses. Until then, let's continue to DO THE WORK!!!
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