Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Women's History Month: Keeping it Real

I for one am grateful for Women's History Month. Alter all, it comes right after Black History Month, when we get to spend a whole month honoring black people.  Then we do the same for women.  This is public education and it matters greatly.

Some believe that the reason Black History Month exists-- Carter G. Woodson notwithstanding- is several important birthdays: George Washington, the nation's first president; Abraham Lincoln, the great Emancipator; Frederick Douglass, who showed us how a slave becomes a man; W.E.B. DuBois, renowned scholar and educator and co- founder of the NAACP, which was also founded during February.  We recognize and remember the passing of the 15th amendment, the appointment of the first U.S. Black senator Hiram Revels, the Greensboro Sit-Ins, and the assassination of a Malcolm X, all in February.  It's the shortest month of the year, but we hope our fellow Americans will benefit as much as if not more than we did.

Women's history month began, like BHM, as an observance primarily in schools and later gained official status. But what is its relationship to one of the oldest holidays, Mother's Day, an official American celebration since 1913, although its origins go back to the Civil War. Most of us believe that motherhood serves as a bond uniting women and families worldwide. However, we must not forget the origins. Mother's Day began as call for unity in a divided nation after the U.S. civil war and expanded into an international day when women would make public their unity in working toward world peace. In my childhood memoirs, Mother's Day belonged to the church, our family and greeting card companies, all of which belie these more radical beginnings.

For WHM, we get to learn much about the contributions of women to the world, contributions about which far too many of us remain ignorant. In the 21st century we must also use this as an opportunity to register our united opposition to violence against women and girls and to human trafficking that makes commodities of our youth, who are bought and sold for sex and other forms of forced labor.

There is another complication as well. By attributing gender and sexual specificity to WHM--assuming that we are---are we falling into a trap? How are we to recognize newly acknowledged identities within the LGBT community?  Is "women" sufficiently inclusive?  Is it time to retire the "women" in WHM?  After all, we retired the "Negro" and replaced it with Black for BHM, even though it, too, is an increasingly unstable Identity.

We leave this month with these questions and reminders to know our real history and to use it as renewed calls to action against human rights violations and for world peace.

Project HBW wishes to thank the new bloggers to our site who shared timely and meaningful posts, some highly personal, some more grounded in scholarly inquiry.

Women's History Month is a time to learn . . .A time to take a stand for or against something that matters in the lives of women everywhere . . . A  time to keep it real.

Keep following us on our blog at projecthbw.blogspot.com, search for us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our website at hbw.ku.edu.  Be proactive and become a blogger.  We want to hear your ideas.

 HBW - Making black writing matter to more people every day.

Maryemma Graham

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