By Angie Schaffer
How many times in the past month has it occurred to you that you do not know as much about women in history as you would like? Besides the obvious Florence Nightengale and Cleopatra, who else is out there?
To answer these questions, one day years ago, a group got together to start what would become Women’s History Month. Its aims are similar to Black History Month and Latino Awareness Month: to raise awareness of the contributions this group (more than 50 percent of the population, don’t forget!) has made to society as we know it.
“… If we don’t know women’s history, we don’t know history,” says Women’s Studies Director Karen Falconer Al-Hindi.
And with this in mind, March gradually became Women’s History Month.
The month began as a week-long celebration in 1978 sponsored by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (Calif.) Commission on the Status of Women, according to the National Women’s History Project. In 1978, Congress passed a resolution that elongated the celebration to one month.
This year’s theme is “Women Sustaining the American Spirit”, which should “showcase the diverse and interlocking stories of women who have created and affirmed the American spirit,” the NWHP Web site says.
UNO’s celebration this month includes a diverse group of speakers, plays and overall celebration. The first event, a tie-in from February’s Black History Month, is a “one-woman historical show” entitled “I AM THAT I AM:*Woman*, Black”, presented by Adilah Barnes. The Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women Annual Awards Luncheon comes the next day, and the week concludes with the “Women Challenging 21st Century Boundaries” conference at UNK. Seven UNO students will be presenting at the conference on topics as diverse as the formation of UNO’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycotts. Falconer Al-Hindi also says to expect an “oral history with music of women in students’ families.” Continuing on campus, Awele Makeba will be presenting “Rage Is Not A One-Day Thing” on March 12, and March 13 includes both “The Yellow Dress,” a play focusing on various social problems, and Associate Professor of English Charles Johannigsmeier’s brown bag luncheon and lecture titled “What Should We Do With ‘Recovered’ American Women Authors and Their Texts?” Further information on these events can be found at http://www.unomaha.edu/Uno/wmst/events.html or on fliers around campus.
March 8 is “International Women’s Day,” which began as a socialist tribute to workingwomen and has become accepted as a legitimate holiday in the U.S.
For further information on the history of Women’s History Month, and articles featuring important women in history, visit http://www.nwhp.org.