Legacy, Flowers & Stones
According to recent trends to have months be dedicated to concepts, August is Legacy month. I can go with that. August means respected or venerated, so legacy is an august concept. It is the beginning of harvest season for many cultures, including Gaelic culture when August 1, or the midpoint between Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox, was observed as Lughnasadh.
Peridot is a semi-precious gemstone of a crisp bright green with a hint of yellow in it, much like the fields of August that begin to ripen with a hint of gold, and is the birthstone of the month. The gladiolus or “sword lily” which pierces the heart (much like Cupid’s arrow) and the poppy are the flowers of August. Red poppies signify pleasure.
Back to School
August is back to school month for most of the U.S. Because this is an election year I think that this month is a perfect time to look back at education in light of U.S. culture and what was valued when women gained the vote. This is a most enlightening exercise when we look through the lenses of the current political history making Presidential campaign with the first woman candidate nominated by a major party.
So I suggest that all women interested in the intersection of education, governance, and women’s culture use this month to examine parts of the 6th McGuffey’s Reader, the last in the series of readers that educated our populace 100 years ago. It can be downloaded in various formats on Guttenburg.org. I used the PDF version as it was digitized from the edition in circulation at the time when women were granted the right to vote.
Yet the very habit of proposing these questions, however they may be answered, will involve the calling of ourselves to account for our reading, and the consideration of it in the light of wisdom and duty. ––– Noah Porter. Chapter CXXXVII. A DEFINITE AIM IN READING. in McGuffey’s 6th Eclectic Reader Series.
Wisdom and duty informed by the outcome of reading and questioning. What a novel concept. Women, as the essential teachers of human kind, must remain vigilant and continually re-educate ourselves so that we can educate our children to understand wisdom and duty in this year when we vote to for the person who is to lead our still young country as some of the first generation of women to be born as citizens with the right to vote have the the first opportunity ever in this land to vote for a woman for President.
No matter how you chose to cast your ballot, it is an historic moment for women, our country, and our form of governance.
For U.S. women August 26th is celebrated as Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Let us use this day, this year, to contemplate the weighty responsibility it is be a part of the group that comprises the majority of voters, and how important it is to cast an informed and well-considered vote.
August Women’s History Events (info from NWHP)
August 6, 1965 – The Voting Rights Act outlaws the discriminatory literacy tests that had been used to prevent African Americans from voting. As the National Women’s History project notes, “Suffrage is finally fully extended to African American women” with this passage.
August 10, 1993 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in to serve on the US Supreme Court. She is the second woman and 107th Justice on the court.
August 26, 1920 – The 19th Amendment of the US Constitution is ratified granting women the right to vote.
August 26, 1971 – Celebration of the first “Women’s Equality Day,” initiated by Representative Bella Abzug, is established by Presidential Proclamation. It is reaffirmed annually annually.
August 28, 1963 – More than 250,000 gather for a march on Washington, DC, and listen to Martin Luther King Jr. give his “I Have a Dream” speech at a march on Washington, D.C. where over 250,00 people listened to him speak.
August Birthdays (info from NWHP)
August 2, 1902 (1997)– Mina Rees, mathematician, first woman president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1971)
August 3, 1905 (1995) – Maggie Kuhn, senior rights activist, founded the Gray Panthers
August 6, 1886 (1916) – Inez Milholland Boissevain, the lawyer and suffrage leader; gowned in white and riding a white horse, lead a suffrage parade in Washington, DC, during Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration
August 6, 1903 (1999)–Virginia Durr, civil rights activist and author, founding member of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare (1938)
August 6, 1911 (1989)– Lucille Ball, comedian, actress, and television executive, starred in TV series “I Love Lucy” from 1950 to 1960, first woman to own a major television studio, Desilu Productions
August 11, 1941– Elizabeth Holtzman, youngest woman elected to U.S. Congress, (D-NY, 1973-81), first woman District Attorney in New York City (1981)
August 12, 1889 (1981)– Zerna Sharp, author, called the “Mother of Dick and Jane,” helped create the popular reading series with bright action picture stories and one new word on each page
August 13, 1818 (1893) – Lucy Stone, suffragist and supporter of rights for women and African Americans, boldly kept her own name when she married
August 13, 1893 (1986)– Eva Dykes, first African-American woman to earn a doctoral degree (in English from Radcliffe College in 1921), professor at Howard University, and Chair of the English Dept. at Oakwood College
August 14, 1911 (1991)– Ethel Payne, called “The First Lady of the Black Press,” first African American female radio and television commentator at a national news organization (CBS) in 1972
August 16, 1958–Madonna–Pop music icon who rose to fame in the 1980s who continues to reinvent herself, perform, and grab headlines today
August 17, 1893 (1980)– Mae West, iconic actress and sex symbol, started in Vaudeville, starred in plays, movies, radio, and television
August 17, 1927 (1997)– Elaine Hedges, educator, helped create the field of Women’s Studies, founding member of the National Women’s Studies Association, founded the Women’s Studies Program at Towson University, one of the oldest programs in the country, writer and editor for The Feminist Press
August 18, 1893 (1982)– Ragini Devi, American specialist in classical and folk ethnographic dances, won acclaim from dance critics, wrote Dance Dialects of India in 1972, later performed with her daughter and granddaughter
August 18, 1927– Rosalynn Carter, U.S. First Lady from 1977 to 1981, politically active while in the White House, focused on mental health, senior citizens, and community voluntarism, co-founded the Carter Center with her husband in 1982
August 19, 1895 (1987)– Vera Weisbord, radical activist, (Communist) labor organizer, and feminist, organized women textile worker strikes in the 1920s, active in the Civil Rights Movement, her autobiography, A Radical Life, was published in 1977.
August 19, 1920 (1999)– Donna Allen, founder of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press in 1972 to publicize and research women’s issues which she thought were ignored by the main stream media.
August 22, 1883 (1984)– Ruth Underhill, anthropologist and professor, studied with Ruth Benedict who encouraged traveling with native women to learn their history, wrote of the Papago Native American culture, and taught in the Bureau of Indian Affairs schools (Many people now think this later association is to her detriment.)
August 26, 1908 (1986)– Cynthia Wedel, first woman elected President of the National Council of Churches in 1969, president of the World Council of Churches from1975-1983. She argued that women should be treated as equals in the church.
August 26, 1935 (2011)– Geraldine Ferraro, first woman to run for Vice President of the U.S. on a major party ticket in 1984 with Democratic candidate Walter Mondale
August 30, 1907 (1992)– Luisa Moreno, labor leader and Mexican-American civil rights activist
Live Your Legacy Now
This month’s list of writing prompts is less interwoven and relies more heavily on the cited and linked sources than my usual women’s history prompts and links. I am preparing to drive to LA for a conference and to take a pilgrimage to a home of a woman who shaped both popular writing and natural science 100 years ago. I will write about her soon.
Have a wonderful month, and write, record, journal, and create your heart out this month.