Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.
Happy Women’s History Month. This month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and society, and it’s been observed in the month of March annually in the United States since 1987. It’s been a month dedicated to reflect on the contributions of women, people like Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and so so so many others who are often overlooked when we think about history. I had the opportunity to reflect on Susan B. Anthony a couple of weeks ago as I wanted to learn a little bit more about her. It inspired me to think about the company I find myself in and the people that I am fortunate enough to call friends. Susan B. Anthony’s father was a cotton mill owner in 1820. I found that extremely interesting, especially knowing that when their family moved to Massachusetts in 1845, that her father’s social circle included people like Frederick Douglass. You start to think about the people that you hang out with, the company you keep, and what that means, not only to your life, but the rippling effect that it may have on others.
In July 1848, the first women’s rights conventions organized by women was held in New York with 300 attendees. This Seneca Falls Convention, including organizers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott was where 68 women and 32 men, including Frederick Douglass, signed the Declaration of Sentiments, which kicked us into decades of activism leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. 20 years later, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony would found the National Women’s Suffrage Association, which coordinated the National Suffrage movement. If you tuned in last week, you heard representatives from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated talk about the National Suffrage movement and their connection to it in 1913.
What I have always found fascinating in Women’s History Month is that it was born out of an impactful week-long community event organized by the school district of Sonoma, California in 1978. Dozens of schools participating with presentations and a real woman essay contest, and even a parade in downtown Santa Rosa. Literally, a few years later, other schools, communities, and districts organized similar events across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter created March 8th as Women’s History Week. Six years later, however, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March. This year’s theme in 2023 is celebrating women who tell our stories, which is focused on recognizing women who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling.
While the theme focuses on print, radio, tv, stage screen, blogs, podcasts, news, and social media, I figured I would specifically add oral tradition storytelling. My husband, a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers and Storytelling Association of Alta California, he also enjoyed the National Storytelling Network and was privileged to meet so many people who continue to showcase the oral tradition of storytelling. I also want to give a special shout out to Diane Ferlatte, who was one of his storytelling coaches many years ago and is a renowned award-winning international storyteller that we have had the privilege to know and have in our home. She’s even participated in Kwanza celebrations in the past.
The truth is we only understand the impact that we have when we look back. We look back at history, and we only begin to connect all of those dots. I had a great conversation with a male friend of mine the other day who highlighted the fact that he takes his responsibility very seriously when being a champion for women. As an ally, you may not even realize the type of impact you will have. As a woman, you may not understand the legacy you will leave, but I hope that our milestones will continue. There will be lots of firsts still to come, but I hope we will continue to celebrate history as we make it. And to all of you socially conscious CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs, what will you do this month to celebrate women’s history? Make it a great month.
Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.