“Ain’t I a woman?” so wrote Isabella Baumfree, also known as Sojourner Truth, in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. One of the greatest speeches ever given on gender equality, Sojourner Truth must have known how far we could come.
When I was a school girl, I was taught about only a few women in history. Year after year, we read about inspiring sister soldiers like Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Phyllis Wheatley, Susan B. Anthony, and Marion Anderson. At that time, little did I know of the multiple generations of women that came before me and not only helped to build the country, but also facilitate much of its’ progress.
Each year, reflection is reserved for the struggles and strides of women across the globe, and tribute is paid for the opportunities granted and achievements made regarding divisions, religion, culture, economics, politics, or linguistics. The persistence, passion, and personal bravery of women in history have triumphed through many centuries.
Margaret Brent advocated for human rights during the early 1600’s. Sojourner Truth raised money for black union soldiers and fought for prison reform and abolition. Susan B. Anthony became perhaps the most powerful organizer of the women’s movement of the 19th century. Zora Neale Hurston was declared the most prolific black woman writer of the 1930’s. Helen Keller not only overcame her own disabilities but wrote, lectured, and worked for social reform to promote progressive causes for persons with disabilities. Harriet Tubman led more than 300 slaves to freedom. Rosa Parks was a civil rights trail-blazer; meek-spirited but a strong-willed little woman with a big heart. Clara Barton was determined to care, teach, give, and act. Given the adversity and challenges that these women and many more had to endure, they make our present-day obstacles seem rather manageable.
As women, we are inspired by the political journeys of judicious minds like Barbara Jordan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Shirley Chisholm; the audacity of literary voices like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Alice Walker; and the vocal insurgence of melodic voices like Marion Anderson and Lena Horne. Their victories, crusades, words, and engagement brought about an extensive audacity for change in the 20th and 21st centuries.
We remember our grandmothers who worked outside of the home, our mothers who stitched our dresses from patterns of scratch, and now, there is us – the present-day keepers at the gate who courageously serve in capacities as mothers, sisters, community advocates, organizers, wives, grandmothers, caregivers, mentors, leaders of change, and guardians of our sisters. We are our sisters’ keeper and our obligations are varied, necessary, and divine.
Women revolutionize. Women lead. Women are strong. Women make a difference. Women are phenomenal.
Rochelle Soetan is the creative publisher of Tuesday Morning Love the blog and author of the inspirational book Tuesday Morning Love: 52 Commentaries and Weekly Affirmations to Honor the Soul within the Souldier.
She is a contributing author to “More of Life’s Spices: Seasoned Sistahs Keepin’ It Real” which was nominated as a Finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in 2013, now granted Honorable Mention Book for Women’s Studies across the country; and a distinguished poet of the 2013 lyrical anthology Sistah’s With Ink Voices, which features a platform of extraordinary women writers of color.
Rochelle has molded her talents and interests for more than 25 years as a nonfiction writer, magazine columnist, social activist and contributing composer of the (former) popular national monthly e-Newsletter NBWTH Happenings. She serves as a change-agent on the Board of Directors and Council of Advisers for the National Black Women’s Town Hall, a non-profit inter-generational think-tank convening meaningful conversations with black women on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities.
She is the founder and sole proprietor of Pearls of Poise, Washington DC’s Premier Youth Etiquette and Civility Academy. She has been interviewed on several radio shows and has become an example and inspiration to thousands of readers. She resides in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area.
Contact: Rochelle Soetan