Women’s History Month: An acknowledgement of the invisibility within

by Mirella Flores

Today marks the last day of Women’s History Month for 2016. It is pretty amazing to consider how it all began with celebrating women one day out of the year, and now has turned into a whole month. Women get thirty one days to be acknowledged for their many contributions and accomplishments. To some level this is great, but it is also very upsetting. I could use this blog to discuss the need to celebrate women during the remaining 334 days of the year, but instead I want to acknowledge some women who are still largely invisible within Women’s History Month.

Think of this: We need Women’s History Month because women are still marginalized in our society. What about women who also hold other marginalized identities? Trans women, LBQ women, women of color, women with disabilities, and women with multiple intersecting marginalized identities are all just as much women as all women with privileged identities. I will dedicate this blog to briefly acknowledge some of these women and their contributions.

Disclaimer: I will be grouping these women into trans women, LBQ women, women of color, and women with disabilities groups. However, some of them have multiple marginalized intersecting identities (i.e., trans women of color, women of color with disabilities) and should be acknowledged as such, rather just a part of their identity. 4a721dfc53ac94b28fcf52fd7776afa7

Trans women of color such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were co-founders of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), and are often erased figures of the Stonewall Riot. The Stonewall Riot went down in history as the event that set off what we now know as the LGBT movement; however, Rivera and Johnson’s contributions did not make much news. Johnson was the person credited for starting the riot and Rivera as the first bystander to throw the first bottle at the police. Other trans women like Christine Jorgensen and Renee Richards were also vital in terms of their visibility. These women were open about having had gender-affirming surgeries during a time when the very concept of these surgeries was considered extremely shocking to most. Their efforts helped to advance the very simple idea that trans women should be treated equally. Lynn Conway, a trans woman, is one of the pioneers of modern computer science and an Emeritus professor at the University of Michigan. Trans actresses like Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, and Caroline Cossey broke major ground in the film world decades ago, and women like Laverne Cox and Alex Billings continue to do so now. The list can go on.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I always come back to this saying to remind me that I need to engage in self-care. I have to thank poet, writer, and activitist Audre Lorde for this quote, who also was a lesbian, womanist, and civil rights activist. LBQ women also take a place in entertainment history, for instance women like Josephine Baker, Greta Garbo, Billie Holiday, and Ma Rainey. LBQ women have also made a part of visual art history through Frida Kahlo, Patricia Highsmith, Amrita Sher-Gill, Cristy C Road, just to name a few. How about the sciences? Yup, LBQ women have been in the history of science through women like Margaret Mead, Louise Pearce, and Sofia Kovalesvsky. Even more recently we have women like Dr. Rochelle Diamond, the Chair of National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) and a research biologist at Caltech.

Earlier, I mentioned Sylvia Rivera and Frida Kahlo as women who have made contributions to history. Other Latina women to acknowledge are activists Comandanta Ramona and Rigoberta Menchú. Ramona was a package of fury and revolution as she led the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in the 1994 New Year’s Day uprising in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, as the Zapatistas demanded land, jobs, housing, food, health care, and justice and democracy. Menchú is an activist dedicated to bringing recognition to the rights of Guatemala’s indigenous people and promoting indigenous rights in the Guatemala. Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 and the Prince of Asturias Award in 1998. Latinas have also been part of the literary history, with women like Rosario Castellanos, whose work explored the differences of being both Mexican and a woman, and Claribel Alegría whose poetry was political and encouraged women to rebel against the patriarchy. Alegría’s poem Ars Poetica is particularly poignant and hopeful. Check out this link to learn about the contribution of other Latinas.

In the antebellum period, many Black women became active abolitionists and supporters of Women’s Rights. Sojourner Truth was a former slave, abolitionist, and advocate of Women’s Suffrage. In 1851, she made her famous speech, Ain’t I A Woman? Other Black women suffragist and abolitionists from this time period included Margaretta Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary. I mentioned the contribution of Audre Lorde as a writer, and other Black women who have made contributions to the history of literature include Alice Walker, best known for The Color Purple, and Bell Hooks. Another woman to mention is Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter (read Garza’s own words on the movement here). There is also Karen Byrd, a woman who works to combat the notion that Black hair isn’t beautiful. For this purpose, she created Natural Girls United!, a company that customizes dolls with natural hairstyles.

East and South Asian women have become powerful figures in multiple arenas. Women like Pramila Jayapal, and Kshama Sawant have won city and state elections and been active figures in U.S. politics. Radhika Coomaraswamy is an internationally well-known human rights activist and served as the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. Comedians Aparna Nancherla and Mindy Kaling broke barriers on prime time television shows. Comedian Margaret Cho has become well-known for her stand-up routines through which she critiques social and political problems, especially around race and sexuality. Some Asian American women who have made their mark in executive roles include Keli Lee, Vice-President of Casting for ABC Entertainment Group, and Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO of Pepsi CO. Social activists like Bhairavi Desai, founding member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, and Rinku Sen, executive director of Race Forward and publisher of Colorlines have become powerful voices for social change and racial justice.

I recognize I did not talk about the contributions of Native American women. This is not to say Native women have not done and continue to greatly contribute to history and society. I would encourage you to read Betty Mae Tiger Jumper and Judge Diane Humetewa‘s blogs. Furthermore, look into Native women’s fight in gaining protection against domestic violence.

March is not only Women’s History Month, it is also Disability Awareness Month. Women with disabilities have been part of history. For instance, Frida Kahlo had spina bifida and due to having polio as a child, one of her legs was thinner than the other. Kahlo drew inspiration from per pain and painted wonderful self-portraits, many of which she depicted herself in a wheelchair. Most of us maybe familiar with Helen Keller’s work. Keller, a deadblind person, made numerous contributions through her 12 published books and political activism in support of women’s rights and labor rights. Women with disabilities have also been a part of entertainment history. For instance, actress Marlee Matlin, who has been deaf since she was 18 months old, won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for her leading role in Children of Lesser. Dancer and actress Sudha Chandran turned to acting upon losing one of her legs in a car accident. Chandran has been in numerous Indian shows, including Kaahin Kissii Roz and K Street Pali Hill. In terms of her dancing career, Chandran still graces people with her dance and has performed in many countries. Mayuri, a Bollywood film, where Chandran plays herself. Women with disabilities have also been part of the athletic history. Marla Runyan is a track and field, road runner, and marathon runner who’s legally blind. Runyan has remained three-time national champion in the women’s 500 meters race, and she has won gold and silver medals in the Paralympics.

 There are numerous women that deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments. Don’t let Women History Month end on March 31. I encourage you all to continue to acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions and accomplishments of women.

Today’s Trivia: Who is the woman unanimously elected Judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona, making her the first Native American woman Federal Judge?

You may have heard Diane Humetewa’s name recently as a possible candidate to fill the position of Supreme Court Justice after the sudden death of Antonin Scalia. Humetewa was recently appointed Federal Judge to the U.S. District Court for Arizona, a historic appointment, making her the only active Native American judge and the first female Native American judge. Humetewa’s has spent her career working as a victim advocate, prosecuted violent crime cases, and advised on Indian Country issues.

Humetewa is a graduate of Arizona State University, earning her B.A. in 1987 and her J.D. from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 1993. She served as victim-witness advocate for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona in 1986, prior to earning her law degree. Following her graduation from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, shNational_5e served as counsel to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, before returning to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona in 1996, where she worked as a Special Assistant then Assistant U.S. Attorney. In 2001, she worked as an appeals judge for the Hopi Tribe Appellate Court, where she fostered relationships between the office and Arizona’s Indian tribes. At the same time, she supervised the U.S. Attorney’s victim Witness program.

In 2007, she was appointed to U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona by President George W. Bush, where she served until he left office. Then-Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) described her as “the first Native American woman and, as far as I know, the first victim advocate, to serve our nation in this important office.”

Humetewa left office at the end of Bush’s Presidency, where she returned to the Arizona State University where she worked as a special advisor on American Indian affairs until Senator McCain nominated her for federal judge in 2013. Humetewa was unanimously elected to the position, and was sworn in in 2014. McCain described her as having “an impressive legal background, ranging from work as prosecutor and an appellate court judge to the Hopi Nation to service as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.”

Today’s Trivia: Who was the first Hispanic woman to serve as Supreme Court Justice?

Sonia Sotomayor

by Logan Snook

Fearless. Role model. Trail blazer. Committed. All four of these has been used to describe Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor went straight to work upon her appointment as Associate Judge in 2009 by President Barack Obama, “skipping the shy period of settling into the job and beginning to fire questions during oral arguments immediately.” Throughout her career, Sotomayor has been known for her fiery-attitude and commitment to her work, traits that she has exhibited her entire life.

Sotomayor was born to a Puerto Rican family, and grew up in a public housing project in the Bronx in New York. Her mother was a nurse, and her father worked in manual labor until he passed away when Sotomayor was only 9. Her mother worked tirelessly to support her family and send her children to private Catholic school, where Sotomayor graduated valedictorian. It was her mother that instilled in Sotomayor a strong work ethic and a belief in the power of education.

Sotomayor received a scholarship to attend Princeton University, where she earned her B.A. in History, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor in 1976. She went on to earn her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979. Both at Princeton and Yale, Sotomayor worked with Latin American student groups and wrote and published pieces centered on Puerto Rican subjects.

After graduating from Yale, Sotomayor served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office for 5 years. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, where she served from 1992-1998. It was here that Sotomayor became known as the judge who “saved” Major League Baseball during a tempestuous 1995 strike. From 1998–2009, she served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit at the appointment of President Bill Clinton.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, taking the seat of David Souter after his retirement. This appointment was widely celebrated, making Sotomayor the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, as well as the first person to serve from the working-class Bronx. Sotomayor’s voice in the Supreme Court has been firm and just, often leaning to the liberal side. She has worked to prohibit state universities from considering race in the admissions process, voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act, and legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Sotomayor is strongly connected to the community and helping youths of America. She has recruited judges to invite young women to the courthouse on Take Your Daughter to Work Day to introduce them to Government, mentors young students from troubled neighborhoods, and has created the Development School for Youth program, working with inner city high school students to teach them how to function in a work setting, and opening possibilities for them they did not know were possible.

Incase this isn’t enough, in 2012, Sotomayor stopped by Sesame Street to talk about careers and being a Supreme Court Justice for children, and it is the sweetest, most empowering video.

 

Today’s Trivia: Who was the first woman appointed Justice to the US Supreme Court?

by Logan Snook

Let’s start off the final week of Women’s History Month a woman who was a staple to the U.S. Supreme Court – Sandra Day O’Connor!

Not only was O’Connor the first woman appointed as Justice to the Supreme Court, but she was known for holding the deciding vote on many court cases. O’Connor was nominated for by President Ronald Regan in 1981, after promising to appoint the first woman to the highest Supreme Court during his campaign.

O’Connor’s early childhood years were spent on her family’s cattle ranch in Texas – living in a house with no running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing. She credits these formative years of her life to her success, teaching her the importance of simplicity, practicality, hard work, and independence. It was here her aspirations to become a lawyer began, fueled by encouragement from her father.

She attended Stanford University for her undergraduate, as well as her LL.B, completing her schooling in 1951. Following her graduation, O’Connor was relentless in applying for positions. She was denied interviews with 40 law firms – all on the basis that she was a woman. Not to be deterred, O’Connor continued to send out applications, and was hired as the Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California from 1952–1953, and Civilian Attorney for the Quartermaster Market Center in Frankfurt, Germany from 1954–1957. O’Connor returned from Germany in 1958 to Arizona, where she worked in private practice before being appointed Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965–1969. From 1969-1975, she served two terms in the Arizona State Senate. In 1973, she was elected the first female state majority leader for the Republican party. From 1975-1979, O’Connor was appointed Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, and from here she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals from 1979-1981.

Anyone else blown away? Did I almost mention that O’Connor is also a mother of 3 sons, and married to a fellow lawyer?

At the time of her nomination, O’Connor was 51 years old, receiving unanimous approval from the Senate. Despite this, and despite her incredible career, she did not feel was fit for the position – a notion she soon proved to be false. She held this position for a quarter of a century, retiring in 2006. During her tenure, O’Connor was known for being a decisive swing vote on many occasions, providing the deciding vote for many cases.

O’Connor created an incredible legacy for women, and inspired many to pursue their goals. When she appointed to the Supreme Court, 36% of students attending law school were woman. By her retirement in 2006, that number rose to 48%. She is still active today, lecturing on the government and legal issues across the country.

 

 

O’Connor’s life goal is: “Work at work worth doing.” Safe to safe she has lived up that.

#Roos4WHM Week 2 Grand Prize Winner!

Image-1.pngBy Logan Snook

Congrats, Armando Contreras, for winning week 2 of Women’s History Month trivia contest! Armando is completing his Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the UMKC Conservatory. When he’s not singing opera, you can find Armando on the basketball court.

Armando won a Skyscraper Party from Winstead’s, an awesome Starbuck’s tumbler, and some Women’s Center swag. He’s planning on taking his fellow opera singers to Winstead’s for their giant milkshakes after their opera next week.

Thanks for answering all 5 questions during week 2!

Today’s Trivia: What Missouri State Representative is the Director/Founder of ProgressWomen?

By Mirella Flores

Stacey Newman_3.18.2016Stacey Newman is the Missouri State Representative of District 87. Representative Newman was first appointed to the chamber in 2009, when she replaced Steve Brown who resigned after pleading guilty to federal conspiracy charges.

Rep. Newman’s career have primarily focused fighting gun violence, voter’s rights, and reproductive justice. Before starting her public service career, Rep. Newman earned a Bachelors in Theater and Education from Emporia State University.

Upon graduation, Rep. Newman worked for Trans World Airlines for 14 years as a flight crew member. Upon her early retirement from Trans World Airlines in 1992, Rep. Newman first became involved politically after the Columbine High School and Los Angeles day care shooting. Rep. Newman started working closely with Missouri Governor Bob Holden and the Million Mom March for three years to stop Missouri’s conceal and carry law. Rep. Newman’s work on fighting gun violence has also included sponsoring legislation for universal background checks on all gun sales, restricting felons and domestic violence abusers from processing guns, and gun violence restraining orders (click here to read her 2016 bills).

As stated above, Rep. Newman is also a leader in fighting against voter suppression. As a ranking member of the House Elections Committee, Rep. Newman has been actively fighting against efforts to require photo identification. Rep. Newman also works with Denise Lieberman, senior attorney with the national Advancement Project, to fight back bills and constitutional amendments which would prevent over 250,000 current registered Missourians from voting.

Rep. Newman’s work has not been limited to legislature. She was also the founding member/executive director for both Harriet’s List Political Action Committee (PAC) and the Missouri Women’s Coalition PAC– both organizations are dedicated to electing progressive women to legislative office and influencing the women’s vote. In 2010, Rep. Newman founded ProgressWomen, a national blog that works to engage women who have not been politically active but care deeply about progressive issues.

Today’s Trivia: Who serves as the Chief Judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District?

Judge Angela Turner Quigless is Chief Judge of Missouri Court of Appeals. Judge Quigless holds a Bachelors in Sociology from the University of Missouri- Columbia, and a J.D. from Saint Louis University of Law.

Angela Turner Quigless_3.17.2016Before becoming Chief Judge of Missouri Court of Appeals, Judge Quigless served as a Trial De Novo Attorney for the Missouri Department of Revenue, an Assistant General Counselor for the Missouri Public Service Commission, an Assistant Circuit Attorney and City Counselor for the City of St. Louis, and as an Associate Circuit Judge in the 22nd Circuit Court. In her years on the bench, she has presided over numerous civil and criminal trials, hundreds of non-jury trials, domestic matters, support cases, debt collections, child support cases, Department of Revenue cases, and adult abuse matters.

Judge Quigless served as Associate Circuit Judge in the 22nd Circuit Court for nine years before joining the Appellate Court. On April 2012, she was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals by Governor Jay Nixon. As such, Judge Quigless became Chief Jude of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District. She retained this position in 2014, and we can expect her to hold this position until December 31, 2016.

Judge Quigless is a remarkable person not only because of her career achievements, she has also been involved in mentorship. She is a mentor for new women lawyers in the Women’s Lawyers Association. She is also on the advisory board for the Sherwood Forest Camp, and serves as a faculty affiliate in the Sue Shear Institute for Women’s in Public Life (click here for the 2016 application, deadline March 18, 2016).

Judge Quigless’s has been actively involved in public service. For her efforts and contributions, she has been awarded with the Gwen B. Giles’ Public Service Award and the Women’s Justice Public Office Award, just to name a few.

Today’s Trivia: What State Auditor of Missouri is focused on bringing private-sector best practices to state government with a focus on cybersecurity?

By Mirella Flores

Nicole Galloway is the 37th and current State Auditor of Missouri, and a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner. Galloway holds bachelor’s degrees in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia.Nicole_Galloway_3.16.2016

Prior to her public service, Galloway served as corporate auditor with Shelter Insurance. Galloway began her career in public service as an auditor with Brown Smith Wallace, LLC., a public accounting firm, where she audited Fortune 500 companies domestically and internationally, as well as insurance companies throughout the U.S.

On 2011, Galloway assumed office as the Boone County Treasure. As Treasurer, Galloway managed a $100 million investment portfolio. Galloway helped Boone County become the first Missouri County to maintain an online search and claim system for unclaimed property. Through this system, Galloway’s office distributed about $20,000 in unclaimed property in 2014. Furthermore, Galloway developed a debt insurance policy that brought increased transparency to the process. While in this position, Galloway also served on the board for the Missouri Technology Corporation and the Missouri County Employees’ Retirement Fund. As a board member of the later one, Galloway helped expand retirement benefits to members’ same-sex spouses.

Following the death of the late Tom Schweich, Galloway’s commitment to improving Missouri were recognized when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed her as State Auditor on April 2015. Upon taking the oath of office, Galloway stated one of her first priorities would be to bringing private-sector best practices to state government with a focus on cybersecurity. As State Auditor, Galloway manages about 115 employees and serves as the independent, professional overseer for Missourian government.

In 2015, Galloway was recognized as one of Columbia Business Times’ 20 Under 40. Regardless of the recognition, Galloway is committed to holding the Missouri government accountable, because of that Galloway is an important women in public service we ought to recognize.

Today’s Trivia: Who was an appellate Court Judge assigned to redistrict Missouri’s state legislative map on 2011?

By Mirella Flores

Lisa White Hardwick_3.15.2016Honorable Lisa White Hardwick is a Kansas City native. She received her Bachelor’s from the University of Missouri- Columbia in 1982 and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1985.

Upon graduation, Hardwick joined the Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a U.S. private law firm based in Kansas City and the 87th largest in the U.S. (according to The National Law Journal, 2012). Hardwick was a partner at this firm from 1992 to 2000. During this same time, Hardwick also served on the Jackson County Legislature.

In 2001, Hardwick was appointed as a judge of the Jackson County 16th Circuit Court, where she served from January 2001 to May 2011. Hardwick left this position because she was appointed as a judge on then Missouri Court of Appeals Western District. The Missouri Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the state of Missouri, which means it is an intermediate step between the trial courts and the courts of last resort in the state. The Western District Court of Appeals is the state’s largest intermediate appellate court. This court usually handles around 40% of the appellate caseload in Missouri. Hardwick retrained this position at the 2002 general election, and again at the 2014 general election. We can expect the Honorable Lisa White Hardwick to maintain her position in the Missouri Court of Appeals until 2026.

The results from the 2010 Census showed an increase in population and regional shifts within Missouri. This meant the state legislative map needed to be reconfigured. At first, bipartisan citizens appointed to this task. Upon them failing to reach agreement, Hardwick and five other appellate court judges were appointed by the Missouri Appellate Apportionment Commission to reconfigure Missouri’s state legislative map within 90-days. Under Hardwick’s leadership as the Commission Chair, they proposed a redistricting plan for the Senate and for the House. The changes were not welcomed, as the new district boundaries would change the complexion in Southern Missouri. The Commission’s Senate redistricting plan was struck down in court, and it was also determined that the Commission lacked the authority to draw a second map. A new commission was convened to make a second attempt. The new commission issued a final state Senate district map on March 12, 2012.

Hardwick’s public service efforts have not gone unnoticed. Some of Hardwick’s honors include receiving the 40 Under 40 Award by Ingram’s Magazine and the Up and Comers Award from the Kansas City Business Journal.

Today’s Trivia: Who was the first Black woman to serve in the Missouri Senate?

By Mirella Flores

Happy Monday and third week of our #Roos4WHM trivia contest! We kick-off this week by recognizing Gwen B. Giles’ work in improving people’s lives in St. Louis, MO.

Daisy_Lee_Gatson_Bates_3.2.2016Giles began her political career during the Civil Rights Movement. During the 1960’s, Giles served as a political campaign manager for Ruth C. Porter, a Civil Rights leader in St. Louis, MO, and U.S. Representative William L. Clay, Missouri’s first Black Congressman.

In 1970, Giles was appointed by St. Louis Mayor A. J. Cervantes to the position of Executive Secretary of the St. Louis Council on Human Relations. Just three years later, Giles was appointed as Commissioner of Human Relations by Mayor John Poelker. In this position, Giles increased legal protections for women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

In 1977, Giles was asked to run in the December 6 special election to replace Senator Franklin Payne’s seat in the Fourth District Senate. Giles ran and won. Giles ran for full term the following year and won with 92% of the votes. During her term as a senator, Giles served as co-chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and was part of the Bi-State Development Agency. Giles did not stop there. During here political career, Giles was also appointed Executive Secretary of the St. Louis Council on Human Relations and as the Director of the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency. Through her work on these positions, Giles actively worked to eliminate employment discrimination of racial marginalized groups by the companies who had contracts with the city. Later in her career, Giles worked to end discrimination for racial marginalized groups in housing and public accommodations. In 1981 Giles was appointed by Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr. to lead the St. Louis City Assessor’s Office. Giles was the first women and the first Black person to hold this position. Gile’s live-long work to end discrimination led to the St. Louis Committee for Freedom of Residence honoring her for her efforts in fighting discrimination.

Giles devoted her life to public service. She invested her time and energy to the securing civil rights and to improving the living conditions for St. Louis citizens.