By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) March 11, 2012 – With careful attention, I have watched the talk shows—both liberal and conservative hosts during Women’s History Month—which just happens to fall at the same time as all the anti-choice, anti-contraception, pro-vaginal probe and misogynistic talk by Rush Limbaugh and others about Sandra Fluke.
Like many Black women leaders, I listened to and applauded my friends who are leaders of white women’s organizations as they made many of the same points on the talk shows that Black women who lead Black women’s organizations were making wherever we could—but were never invited on mainstream television, radio and newspapers. It doesn’t matter if the shows are hosted by Black or white men or women –the result is the same. Many of us keep waving our hands and saying, “Hey look at us. We Black women who lead Black women’s organizations have opinions, too!” Yet, we are never asked.
It seems that some things never change. Even the recent Washington Post/Kaiser Foundation study on Black Women chose to pass over Black Women who lead Black women’s organizations. We witnessed the same scenario when Don Imus made his infamous remarks about the young Black women basketball players from Rutgers University a few years ago.
For the past 20 plus years, the National Congress of Black Women, under my predecessor, Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, led a valiant effort to show more respect for women and to clean up the images to match reality when movies are made or songs are made about women; however, the most egregious images too often portrayed have been about Black women with little or no balance regarding all the positive things Black women have historically done in the country and around the world.
Let us look at a few examples of positive things Black women have done, and are still doing in many cases. Rosa Parks sat down on a bus one day to give all of us some dignity by helping to ignite a Civil Rights Movement that continues to this day. Ella Baker worked tirelessly for 50 years to organize mechanisms to bring about a just society; she worked along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and all the other male leaders—but we rarely hear her name. Constance Baker Motley led many of the civil rights cases of her day—and won them, but monuments to her are rare. Patricia Stephen-Due at 13 years old risked her life by standing in a Dairy Queen line there-to-for reserved for whites only.
Diane Nash pushed on when a member of Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s office warned her against organizing students to go into the hotbed of segregation when she emphasized the determination of the students by saying that Last Wills and Testamentshad already been signed—meaning the students understood they might die and were ready to do so. Fannie Lou Hamer was kicked and beaten mercilessly, but never stopped moving forward to help us gain the right to vote. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a fierce fighter against lynching of our people; not even the bombing of her office prevented her from keeping the issue up front and center. I could go on and on with sheroic efforts by Harriet Tubman, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Dorothy Height, Sojourner Truth, Irene Morgan and so many more.
I haven’t even touched on Black mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, wives who continue the work of our ancestors today. Many of them work against great odds to send young people to college, work faithfully under people who don’t come close to their qualifications. Even when the rest of society leaves us out, let us remember the courageous, compassionate Black women in our lives—not just during Women’s History Month, but every day.