...traces its roots to the first International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, 1911. In March 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring Women’s History Week. Beginning the following year, the Congress passed a joint resolution each year requesting and authorizing the President to designate a Women’s History Week. Finally, in 1987, the 100th Congress extended Women’s History Week to the full month of March in a proclamation that read:
Whereas American women of every race, class, and ethnic background served as early leaders in the forefront of every major progressive social change movement, not only to secure their own right of suffrage and equal opportunity, but also in the abolitionist movement, the emancipation movement, the industrial labor movement, the civil rights movement, and other movements to create a more fair and just society for all; and
Whereas, despite these contributions, the role of American women in history has been consistently overlooked and undervalued in the body of American history: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the month of March, 1987, is designated as “Women’s History Month.”
Although March is officially Women’s History Month, the WNDC Educational Foundation—established in 1991 to promote an understanding of women’s history and contributions—has opted to use a calendar format to communicate important stories of women’s history all year long. Today, historians, educators, and activists agree that focusing on the history of one half of the population for a single month is insufficient—just as inappropriate as confining the study of Black history to the month of February.
The EF’s 2021 calendar, Women of Color and the Fight for the Vote, tells an extraordinary story of women’s history and accomplishments—the nearly 200-year saga of how women of color fought for and won the right to vote, struggled against voter suppression, and ultimately were a major factor in the election of the first woman and the first woman of color as the vice president of the United States.
The calendar shares images and stories of hundreds of remarkable Black women who haven’t received the recognition they deserve or found their way into most textbooks or classrooms. For example, Ida B. Wells (above) marches with the Illinois delegation in the Woman Suffrage Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, March 3, 1913—the first large political march on Washington. Less known is the fact that Wells was one of many Black women who marched that day—women like Mary Church Terrell, and members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the National Association of Colored Women. These pioneers who, despite facing racism from organizers of the Parade, joined delegations of students, states, and professional groups on this historic day to march for women’s right to vote.
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