Dorothy Gilliam: Paving the Way for Female Journalists

By Christina Terrell

Have you ever sat back and thought about the woman who produces all the interesting feminist articles, blogs, newspaper and magazine columns that you read? Or have you taken a moment to consider where the journey of feminist’s articles began? It all started with Dorothy B. Gilliam, an African American woman from Memphis, Tennessee who went on to attend Ursuline University in the year of 1952. It was there where her journalism journey began.

Just at the age of seventeen, Gilliam was named Society Editor at her local newspaper, known as the “Louisville Defender”. Gilliam then went on to tap into her niche of journalism, which was writing about the topics that no one wanted to cover due to the time period. This included subjects such as the civil rights and the women’s suffrage movement. In 1957, Gilliam was approached by an editor with “Jet magazine” who offered her a position as an Associate Editor. Gilliam stayed at “Jet Magazine” for two years before wanting to go back to college to further her education in journalism. So, she started at Columbia University, where she received her graduate degree in journalism. Gilliam then went on to work for the “Washington Post”, where she covered a lot of ground breaking stories on the desegregation of colleges and the presidential term of John F. Kennedy and most importantly, the women’s suffrage movement.

Dorothy B. Gilliam is a very influential woman and she was one of the first women to break down barriers and get her foot into the door of some very, what is known today as, prestigious names in journalism. Without the efforts of Gilliam and her bravery, there would not be very many female journalists, let alone someone to tell and create all the feminist articles that we enjoy.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Dorothy Cotton

By Caitlin Easter

“I’m tired of people saying, “And now we present her, who marched with Martin Luther King.”
Well, a lot of folk flew down there one weekend and marched, but I worked.”- Dorothy Cotton

Dorothy Cotton was very similar to other women in the fact that she never got the recognition
she deserved. Even today, the name Dorothy Cotton doesn’t ring a bell in the average American’s
imagination, because beyond the fact that she was black, she was also a women. Despite this, she was a
major champion of the civil rights movement and never allowed her gender to stop her from doing what
she wanted to do. She believed in the power of speech, and encouraged others to speak the truth with
her organizations. She was a major advocate for human rights education and leadership. She spoke at
workshops and with her Institute helped people to understand and shape themselves as leaders to
advance human rights. The Dorothy Cotton Institute was founded in 2007, and works to secure human
rights for everybody through education, interactive exhibits, and movements and campaigns. The
Institute works to develop Human Rights leaders, build a community for these leaders, and promote
practices that lead to justice and healing.

According to The Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ms. Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director at
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the director of The Citizenship Education Program, the
Vice President for Field Operations for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolence Social Change,
the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION under the Carter Administration, the director of Student
Activities at Cornell University, a 2010 National Freedom Award Recipient, and the founder and
namesake of the Dorothy Cotton Institute. Ms. Cotton is now being recognized as a 2019 Honoree in the
National Women’s History Alliance following the theme of: “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace &
Nonviolence.”

Before her death on June 10, 2018, she was a strong and influential advocate for violence
reduction and humanitarian issues. She was a speaker, a teacher, a facilitator, a peaceful resister, and a
woman. Her name will always be tied to Dr. Martin Luther’s because of their strong bond and joint work,
but her impact will forever be so much more than that.

More information about Ms. Cotton and her institute can be found at:

https://www.dorothycottoninstitute.org/

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Rosa Parks

By: Brittany Soto

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to focus my attention on Rosa Parks. Most people are familiar with who Rosa Parks is but to those who aren’t, she was a civil rights activist who was best known for courageously refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person during a time when segregation was legal. She was thrown in jail as a result of this incident, sparking the infamous Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott. Her vital role in this movement helped bring attention to the mistreatment of colored people and fought against racism and segregation. Her courage and leadership served, not only as an inspiration to people of color, but to ALL women. She was dubbed the second most popular historical figure to be talked about in schools according to a survey by American
students. (Wineburg, 2008).

Rosa Park’s courage and determination to challenge racism and segregation did not start with the bus incident. This is something that has been instilled in her since childhood. She was never afraid to speak up against the mistreatment of colored individuals by standing up against white children who
would try to harass or bully her. She was also the secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and continuously pushed to end segregation in schools and in public places. Despite the challenges she faced as being a fearless colored woman who was determined to fight for what was right, going as far as receiving daily death threats to her and her family, this never stopped her from fighting for peace and the rightful treatment of colored individuals. This just goes to show that doing what’s right isn’t always easy, but is necessary. Rosa Parks is now a legend and an
inspiration to women worldwide.

A Woman’s Place

By Caitlin Easter

An important reminder to us all in today’s rough political climate: “A Woman’s Place is in the House…and the Senate.”

As I was browsing around the internet a while back, I came across a piece of artwork by Mike Luckovich that depicted the women of the 116th Congress entering the Capital Building below the statement, “A Women’s Place is in the House”. The illustration got me thinking about the cleverness and irony of the statement that was being made. I was seeing a statement that had been used as a means of oppression throughout the centuries beautifully interpreted and illustrated into artwork.

And if I’m being honest, I hope that all of the women stay in the House. Okay, admittedly we’re talking about two different houses here.

While statements like “women belong in the house” used to irritate me (relevancy check: a statement that was made to my face less than two months ago), I fully support Luckovich’s rendering of the statement to exemplify the start of the rise of women. A message that seemed to perpetuate itself in the mouths of people who don’t know what they’re talking about is now turned into a piece of artwork honoring the women who have fought the odds to get to where they are.

Dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” 2018 led us into a 2019 that has started off with a bang. A record number of 127 women are currently holding seats in Congress, a number comprised of 102 women in the House of Representatives and 25 women in the U.S. Senate.

While this is obviously an amazing feat, it isn’t for everybody, and women should be able to choose what they want to be and do. If you want to be a stay-at-home mother, that is great!  But for some of us, staying at home would be maddening, and the idea of motherhood is something a little less-than attractive. Regardless, my gender shouldn’t play into the scope of my options in life.

A woman’s place…is wherever she decides it is.

If you want to view Mike Luckovich’s piece of work entitled “Household”, it can be viewed at https://on-ajc.com/2BXCPPY.

The Women of the US Supreme Court

By Ann Varner

Image from Wikimedia Commons

As a newly converted criminal justice major, I have learned more and more about the cases being taken by the US Supreme Court and how important the Supreme Court and its Justices are — such as the federal ruling allowing gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges that overturned individual states ban on same sex marriage on June 26, 2015. I decided to find out more about the US Supreme Court and found that only four women have served in the history of the Supreme Court.

The first woman to serve on the US Supreme Court was Sandra Day O’Connor. She was appointed by President Ronald Regan in 1981 and retired in 2006 after serving for 24 years. O’Connor attended Stanford University for her undergraduate and law school, and finished third in her class.

The second woman to be appointed, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is still serving on the Supreme Court. In 1993 she was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and prior to her appointment, Ginsburg was (and still is) an advocate for women’s rights. She attended Cornell University for her undergraduate and Harvard for law school. During law school, Ginsburg was a mother and a student and only one of eight females in her law class of 500.

The third woman to serve on the Supreme Court and first Hispanic is Sonia Sotomayer, who is still serving. Sotomayer was nominated by President Barak Obama in 2009. She attended Princeton University for her undergraduate and Yale University for law school. Before becoming a Justice she was a high-profile prosecutor in Manhattan, New York and put “some of the most heinous criminals behind bars.”

The fourth and most recent woman to join the Supreme Court is former Solicitor General of the United States, Elena Kagan. President Barak Obama selected Kagan for the role of solicitor who became the first woman to serve in that role. In 2009 she was nomintated by President Obama for Supreme Court Justice. Kagan attended Princeton University for her undergraduate degree, Oxford University for her master’s degree, and Harvard for her law degree.

As someone who hopes to attend law school one day and potentially go into politics, these women are inspiring in every way. To me, the Supreme Court is how to effect change in the most powerful way. These women are amazing in what they’ve accomplished and can continue to accomplish.

Kate Spade: The Woman Who Helped Young Women Enter Adulthood

By Ann Varner

My first Kate Spade bag was a bright blue, square-shaped purse with green polka dots on the inside. I still have this bag as it’s my favorite. The color and shape are so unique that everywhere I go I receive compliments and the question “where did you get that?” I usually tell them my secret – the Kate Spade surprise sale. This sale was the only way I could afford a Kate Spade bag. All the clearance items would be an extra 75% off. I could always get a bag for under $100 that was big enough to hold everything I needed it to. My Kate Spade bag gave me all the confidence in the world when I was 20-years-old and learning how to navigate life. I had just moved to a city where I knew no one and was figuring out what to do with my life, and this bag symbolized my quest to find myself.  I was learning what it meant to be an independent woman in today’s world and that bag helped me grow from adolescence into young adulthood.

Many young women like me felt the same way. According to a recent article in The New York Times: “Buying a Kate Spade handbag was a coming-of-age ritual for a generation of American women. The designer created an accessories empire that helped define the look of an era. The purses she made became a status symbol and a token of adulthood.” No truer words have been written.

Kate Spade, with her husband Andy Spade, launched the Kate Spade label in 1993. Her bags were quirky, much like her smile. They had bright colors and fun designs that made people smile. Unlike other designer bags, Kate Spade bags were affordable and women of all different economic classes could afford to have one of their own. All Kate Spade bags have their own personality, and it was easy to find one that matched your own. Unlike many of the male purse designers in the world who created neutral colored purses with large logos, Kate Spade knew what women wanted to carry around. She became one of the first women entrepreneurs in the fashion world with a high rise to success. A great quote in the Atlantic sums up what Kate Spade did for women:

“Working in an industry largely run by men, Spade didn’t invent the idea of the professional woman who also cared about style; she was just responding to the reality of what women were already doing…she solved the problem of what women wanted without elitism.”

Kate Spade is a Kansas City native. Born and raised in Kansas City, we are proud to call her our own. She also contributed to the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City after her friend suffered a traumatic brain injury. Her impact on the fashion world showed that a girl from the Midwest could become a fashion mogul in New York City.  Her red lipstick and smile will be dearly missed. I encourage you to not focus on how she passed away, but on her successes in life.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately. Go to a hospital, call 911, or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

A Glimpse at the Media of 2013 – We Still Have So Much to Fight For

[youtube]http://youtu.be/NswJ4kO9uHc[/youtube]

By Amber Charleville

Some of you may know that one of my passions is female representation in the media. Media is powerful, and it is not only a reflection of us in the now but also influences how we move forward. This video, made by the same folks who did Miss Representation, shows the highs and lows of the year for women in the media.

It’s a powerful glimpse at how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

A “Thank You” to all of the Feminists

Image from Google Images.

Image from Google Images.

By Amber Charleville

It’s been a busy semester here at the Women’s Center, and we’re only halfway through.  (On the other hand: Woohoo, we made it through the first 8 weeks of classes!) We’ve done events at the Kansas City Public Library, the Plaza, across campus, and everywhere I’ve gone I’ve met women eager to reach out and connect with each other. Even when I’m not working events, when I tell people where I work, they always ask me questions. They want to know more: how they can get involved, what kind of services we offer, and if it’s okay if they just come by. (The answer to the last one is a resounding YES).

One of the biggest arguments against feminism I hear is that “women don’t have it that bad.” It’s not like we can’t vote or hold a job. It’s not like we can’t go to school. What’s the big deal? But when I meet women from all different backgrounds who all face the many and varied challenges of being a woman every day of their lives, I know it’s not all in my head. It reminds me why I proudly tell people that I’m a feminist. It reminds me why I don’t stay silent and why, no matter how tiring it can be, I always try to educate people on what it means to be a feminist.

Basically, what I want to say is: thanks. Thank you to the women I’ve met this semester (and all the semesters previously) who have inspired and encouraged me. No matter how corny it sounds, it gives me strength knowing I’m not in this on my own.

In acknowledgement of that, some of my blogs going forward are going to feature WONDERful WOMEN right here in our own backyard: professors who make me proud to be a part of this school, who fuel my drive to count myself among UMKC’s alumni.

The Continued Fight for Gender Equality: A Reflection

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGyB3tV9kU0[/youtube]
By Morgan Paul.

I was writing a journal assignment for class the other day and, as I was writing, I remembered a film I watched my junior year of high school in Women’s Studies: Iron Jawed Angels. As we continue to fight for gender equity, we cannot forget each battle that we have won.

When I took my high school Women’s Studies class I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew that women couldn’t always vote, but I did not know what a fight it truly was. I didn’t know about the hunger strikes and wrongful arrests. I didn’t know about the risks these women took and the women who actually opposed getting these basic rights.

It’s crazy how times change and history gets left in the past. I recall asking one of my history teachers why we never get the Native American perspective on the beginnings of the United States of America, or the African perspective on slavery; he told me “because the winners write history.” But if that’s true then shouldn’t the women’s suffrage movement be taught in every American History class? Unfortunately our male-dominated society made sure that didn’t happen. Women won, but we don’t write the history books. We have not won that battle yet.

If you need something to inspire you to continue fighting your own battles, or just a wonderful movie to watch, I suggest Iron Jawed Angels. This film is beautifully done and incredibly empowering.

It’s Time to Leave Our Comfort Zones

By Jasmin D. Smith

Image from Google

Image from Google

In a recent article, Pamela Barnes, the President and CEO of EngenderHealth, a women’s health nonprofit, encouraged women, especially young women, to take a leap of faith in the workplace. She claims that in order for women to reach their true potential and achieve professional success, they have to be willing to put themselves out there and take a risk. She talks about the importance of creating programs that promote equality between men and women, and include men in discussions in order to achieve this goal. There are many stories of women in society today who climbed their way to the top of professional success. These are a couple:

Changing the face of medicine, Dr. Rebecca Crumpler was the first African American woman to earn an M.D. degree. Her book entitled, Book of Medical Discourses is one of the very first medical publications by an African American. Faced with prejudice, she strived to achieve her educational potential which turned into a successful career.

Leading by example, Dr. Nancy Dickey was the first female president of the American Medical Association (AMA). From building an active family medicine practice to serving on the chair of the board of trustees, Nancy is known for her commitment to community service and medical leadership. Her career has been spent accepting challenges as well as taking leaps of faith in new directions but if asked how she does it, she would say, “My greatest reward is the people I’ve met and worked with. People are central to everything I do.”

These women are inspirational foundations onto which all women can walk. As I always say, “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible” Ladies, it’s our turn!