Weaving Stories of Women’s History
February 15 was Susan B. Anthony’s birthday. She is a legendary women’s rights advocate from the early 19th Century who led the struggle for Suffrage so that today we women have the right to vote.
When I was reading through some past blog posts and I came across this one from October 2007. It seems right to re-post it on Susan B’s birthday as an homage, a connection, and a bit of reminder for the gift she and the women following her won and passed on.
October 30, 2007 The Veteran Feminists of America held a reception at the Sewall Belmont House on Capitol Hill, DC. which was once Alice Paul’s home and the seat of the National Women’s Party, particularly during the fight for gaining women’s right to vote. This evening was an induction ceremony and I was one of the inductees. So many familiar faces. For any one who had been actively involved in the many parts of the struggles of the 1970s it was a flashback of those days.
I came to be a part of this group on that evening because of my activism in several roles for national organizations during the struggles to gain equal rights for women artists and for work as ERA Campaign Director for the League of Women Voters the last three years of the campaign to ratify the Equal Right Amendment. It was a proud evening!!!
I reported on it for my blog that night.
Well, a lot has changed since that evening.
For one thing, I stopped dying my hair shortly after that and my budget is grateful.
Since well before 2007 I turned the skills learned in my lobbying days toward becoming a professional storyteller. I still keep women, their history, and their lives at the center of my work. www.ellouiseschoettler.net
Last year I introduced a new story that is more personal to me than anyone would guess unless they knew my history as a feminist activist or know women’s history of being told to wait for years for the right to vote or for the Equal Rights Amendment – which, by the way, women do not have yet.
Months ago I discovered the story of THE HELLO GIRLS – switchboard operators who volunteered to the Army Signal Corps and served in France during WWI – and when they returned home after the war were denied their veterans benefits. Sound familiar? But they were determined to fight against this unfairness. They lobbied for 60 years – finally gaining their veterans benefits in 1977. Audiences gasp when they hear – “of 233 who served in France there were only 18 were still living.”
The “plucky” women of THE HELLO GIRLS have been left out of history books and remain in the shadows of history.
You can see, I am sure, why I am devoted to this story.
I consider my telling this story as lobbying for women’s rights but using a different megaphone.
THE HELLO GIRLS will return to the 2015 DC Capital Fringe in July. Perhaps they will show up in your area. Their story is our story.
Let’s celebrate Susan B. Anthony – she never gave up – – and neither can we, or our daughters, or all the women after us.