Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier editor in chief
Sam Askew, Campus Carrier managing editor
The beginning of the month of March brings many events. The return of spring allergies, a much needed break from classes, the dreaded “spring forward” of Daylight Saving Time and Women’s History Month. Starting in 1988, this month is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of women to history and society.
Although many are familiar with Women’s History Month, not many know how it started. The beginnings of this celebration trace back to 1911, with the first International Women’s Day. The event was generally forgotten in the United States, but celebrated widely within socialist and communist countries, until 1969, when a march was held in Berkeley, Calif. This march sparked a resurgence in interest in the event.
In 1978, Sonoma, Calif.’s school district held Women’s History Week, centered around March 8, International Women’s Day. Organizations such as the Women’s Action Alliance and the Smithsonian initiated similar celebrations following Sonoma’s success, and in 1980, former President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week.
The popularity that stemmed from this week of celebration resulted in Congress passing a joint resolution to designate the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month. Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued proclamations to designate March as Women’s History Month.
The National Women’s History Alliance, a group that was one of many pushing for the designation of Women’s History Month, announces a theme each year as the focus for recognition. This year, the theme is “celebrating women who tell our stories,” focusing on women from journalism, authors, musicians and other storytellers.
While events are occurring nationally throughout the month, groups on Berry’s campus are also celebrating. Empower and U.N.I.T.Y will focus on highlighting women’s history and promoting their clubs as safe spaces for women. According to Emma Moore, vice president of Empower, the club typically uses their social media during March to highlight unsung heroes of the women’s movement. This year, Moore said that the group will highlight female professors at Berry.
“We’ll have a meeting that’s solely dedicated to women’s history,” Moore said. “Just highlighting that, talking with our members about it, sharing stories about how maybe it’s a little bit underdeveloped in schools.”
Empower welcomes all gender identities and backgrounds, Moore said. The men who attend have said that they found attending to be helpful in allowing them to gain a better perspective on what it is like to be a woman today and how to be a better ally.
“I like Empower because it’s a space where we can come together and appreciate womanhood and what it means to be a woman or genderfluid or even a man,” Moore said. “But just appreciating women. I think it’s a really special place where people can feel heard and seen, safe and loved, and respected.”
U.N.I.T.Y. has been emphasizing community within their club this year, according to Kayla Riles, the co-president of U.N.I.T.Y.
“We’ve been really trying to emphasize community this year just because when U.N.I.T.Y was originally started, it was specifically for women of color on campus,” Riles said. “So, this year we’ve been trying to shape it into ‘all women on campus can come,’ and just create a community, belonging on the Berry campus. It’s a small school, all we have is each other.”
Jetaun Walker, co-president of U.N.I.T.Y, echoed that sentiment. Due to Berry being a predominantly white school (PWI), students of color often find it difficult to find a community on campus.
“We really try to emphasize self self care, taking care of yourself,” Walker said. “‘Don’t let other people or outside forces get you down.” We’re really trying to create a sisterhood. That would be the perfect word, sisterhood through our club.”
Although they will be hosting an event in March, Riles said that the event that would better tie into Women’s History Month happens in April. U.N.I.T.Y will be hosting a brunch in April, that will allow the club to come together and reflect on the past year.
“We’re going to have a motivational speaker tell her story and share [how she] overcame hardships,” Walker said. “We’re gonna have food, awards, just reflecting on what we’ve done over the year and try to keep those meaningful relationships with each other.”
Seeing as this month follows Black History Month, both organizations are aware of the need for continuing the conversation once the month is over. Walker and Riles said that these movements shouldn’t be confined within one month, and that students should continue to educate themselves on issues throughout the year.
“It should be something that’s more year round,” Riles said. “It shouldn’t be one month where we appreciate Black history, or we appreciate women’s history or LGBTQIA+ people. I think it should be something that we respect and we listen and we educate ourselves on all that history and appreciate them as well, throughout the whole year. It shouldn’t be something that’s implemented in one singular month on one singular day to day basis”
While celebrating women’s accomplishments is the focus of the month, it’s important to remember to appreciate the different backgrounds these women come from.
“When we really take into consideration the different positions that women in our communities are coming from, their race, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, their social class, what have you, it’s a completely different ball game with completely different struggles and joys and obstacles and triumphs,” Moore said. “Everyone, every woman, every person, should have a place where they can feel celebrated in this month.”