Women’s History Month 2020 takes place from Sunday, March 1-Tuesday, March 31, 2020. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. The U.S. Congress followed suit the next year, passing a resolution establishing the national celebration. Six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.
The actual celebration of Women’s History Month grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society organized by the school district of Sonoma, California, in 1978. Presentations were given at dozens of schools, hundreds of students participated in a “Real Woman” essay contest and a parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa California.
2020 honors women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the empowerment of ME TO women and girls. Women’s History Month is dedicated to celebrating and reflecting on the often-overlooked women’s contributions of women to history, culture and society in the United States. COVID-19 will not have me overlook my hero, women. Join me as I travel down Women’s Suffrage, Race, Power, and Freedom, Memory Lane.
Abigail Adams, March 31, 1776 letter to her husband, Founding Member John Adams; pleading for him and the Continental Congress to “remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
July 19-20, 1848: In the first women’s rights convention organized by women, the Seneca Falls Convention is held in New York, with 300 attendees, including organizers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Sixty-eight women and 32 men (including Frederick Douglass) sign the Declaration of Sentiments, which sparked decades of activism, eventually leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.
May 29, 1851: Abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Sojourner Truth delivers her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne 13 children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
May 15, 1869: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton found the National Woman Suffrage Association, which coordinated the national suffrage movement. In 1890, the group teamed with the American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Dec. 10, 1869: The legislature of the territory of Wyoming passes America’s first woman suffrage law, granting women the right to vote and hold office. In 1890, Wyoming is the 44th state admitted to the Union and becomes the first state to allow women the right to vote.
April 14, 1875: Francis Watkins Harper delivered her speech in Philadelphia at the Centennial Anniversary of the nation’s oldest abolitionist society, the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery outlining the work yet to be done in the cause of African American freedom. Frances Watkins Harper argued “African Americans must organize to complete the work of Reconstruction rather than relying on political parties or organizations. To that end black women must play an important role in these crucial efforts. Frances Watkins Harper speech reads,“The most important question before us colored people is not simply what the Republican Party may do against us or the Democratic Party do for us; but what are we going to do for ourselves? What shall we do toward developing our character, adding our quota to the civilization and strength of the country, diversifying our industry, and practicing those lordly virtues that conquer success and turn the world’s dread laugh into admiring recognition? What we need today in the onward march of humanity is a public sentiment in favor of common justice and simple mercy.
But two things are wanting in American civilization a keener and deeper, broader and tender sense of justice; a sense of humanity, which shall crystallize into the life of the nation the sentiment that justice, simple justice, is the right, not simply of the strong and powerful, but of the weakest and feeblest of all God’s children.
The nation that has no reverence for man is also lacking in reverence for God and need to be instructed. As fellow citizens, leaving out all humanitarian views as a mere matter of political economy it is better to have the colored race a living force animated and strengthened by self reliance and self respect, than a stagnant mass, degraded and self condemned.
Before our young men is another battle not a battle of flashing swords and clashing steel, but a moral warfare. Give power and significance to your life, and in the great work of up building there is room for woman’s work and woman’s heart. Oh, that our hearts were alive and our vision quickened, to see the grandeur of the work that lies before. We have some culture among us, but I think our culture lacks enthusiasm. We need a deep earnestness and a lofty unselfishness to round out our lives. It is the inner life that develops the outer, and if we are in earnest the precious things lies all around our feet, and we need not waste our strength in striving after the dim and unattainable. Women, in your golden youth; mother, binding around your heart all the precious ties of life, let no magnificence of culture, or amplitude of fortune, or refinement of sensibilities, repel you from helping the weaker and less favored.”
August 2019, Lenwood Sloan, Tayyib Smith, and Ron Brown in commemoration of the life work and deeds of Francis Watkins Harper co-convene the Francis Harper Project. The Francis Harper Project began hosting monthly “Think Tanks”, two months after Governor Wolf signed HB619 into PA law, declaring Juneteenth a PA official state holiday. Francis Harper directed a people to “Onward March”, and so we did. The Francis Harper Project all year round programs goals are:
- Men answering Abigail Adams request to men “remember the ladies”; outline the great work and accomplishment of women.
- Enhance awareness of the civic action and public role in the process of the passage of the 15th and 19th Amendments.
- Explore the outstanding oratory and journalism of the 50-year period between the two amendments by using the life of Frances Harper as a lens for the times.
- Draw conclusions and comparative analysis regarding strategies for securing, practicing, and sustaining the franchise by exploring a body of journalism and publications that express the currency of the civic dialogue on the value of the vote.
- Collaborate to align programs, performances, exhibitions, publications, lyceums, Chautauqua, and gatherings that promote and expand public engagement throughout the project period.6. Assist in the placement of a full life-sized bronze statue of Frances Harper on the Pennsylvania State Capitol Irvis Building Lawn as part of a quartette of dynamic bronze statues of abolitionists and suffragette’s representing the Commonwealth wide coalition effort required to achieve the 15th and 19th amendments.
- Galvanize and align cultural literacy initiatives in Southeastern region linking programs, promotions, exhibitions symposium, and publications to the Frances Harper Project thereby maximizing audience development and outreach Impact.
- Develop a body of scholarship, a glossary of terminology, and a framework of literacy for civic dialogue and engagement. Expand awareness of the assets and resources in prominent public archives and collections. Utilize a variety of media to engage audiences and disseminate information.
3 Align the statewide Juneteenth 2020 events from June 15-30 and link to the unveiling of the monument. Organize delegations from all seven tourism regions to ensure statewide coalition participation by stakeholders in the dedication.
- Develop /frame a new body of scholarship and documentation to mark the concurrence of two amendment commemorations with national election and the first anniversary of the passage of HB619
On June 15th, the Frances Harper Project is scheduled to fulfill goal # 6, unveil a life-size Francis Watkins Harper, “A Gathering at the Crossroads” bronze monument on Pennsylvania’s State Capitol Irvis Building Lawn. The monument, (as exhibited below) exhibits four life-size bronze sculpted abolitionists and suffragettes: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Thomas Morris Chester, William Howard Day, and Jacob Compton; standing around a pedestal interacting with one another discussing the enactment of the 15th Amendment, (thus the reason for the name, “A Gathering at the Crossroads”). Upon the pedestal’s sides are 100 names of citizens who were instrumental in breaking down racial barriers and assisting in the development of Harrisburg’s African American community.
The Frances Harper, “A Gathering at the Crossroads”. Monument is in commemoration of the 150th and 100th year anniversaries of the 15th and 19th constitutional amendments in the year 2020. The monument is in commemoration of a phenomenal woman great work and deeds at the crossroad of history. The Francis Harper Monument will help to educate adults and students about the struggle to achieve voting rights for African-Americans and women in the United States. The monument will generate history and educational programs, for children, students, and the millennial.
The location of the Francis Harper Monument has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services and has been approved by resolution H.R. 415 of the PA House of Representatives and S.R. 158 of the PA Senate to endorse the content, commemorative value and placement of the monument in the Capitol Complex. To learn more about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania monument click on www.digitalharrisburg.com, and then click on the Commonwealth Monument Project.
On June 15th, “A Gathering at the Crossroads” Delegation from all seven tourism regions is schedule to travel to Harrisburg for the Frances Harper Monument unveiling ceremony. The Francis Harper “A Gathering at the Crossroads” monument unveiling ceremony will raise the curtain on a week of Juneteenth events, across the Commonwealth. “Gathering at the Crossroads” Delegations will descend on Philly to continue celebrating Juneteenth activities throughout the week of June 12th to June 21st. Included in the week of celebrations, Pennsylvanians fulfills its HR619 mandate to officially celebrate June 19th, Juneteenth as a state legal holiday in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Juneteenth 2020 is designated an official state holiday by Governor Wolf’s signing HR619 into PA law on June 19th, 2019. Many civic, social, and cultural organizations will officially celebrate Juneteenth on June 19th, PA’s state legal holiday. To name a few institutions/organizations who will do the honors: The American-American Museum in Philadelphia, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University Libraries, Freedom Theatre, Independence Seaport Museum, and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America; Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter.
Included in Philadelphia’s week of Juneteenth Celebrations; on June 20th The PA Juneteenth Initiative will host its Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade and Music Festival in the heart, the grass roots, of the City of Philadelphia, along 52nd Street. On the same day, multiple Juneteenth Celebrations will take place across the city. Free transportation will be available to take the public to and from the Johnson’s House and Historic Germantown’s Juneteenth Celebration. Free transportation will take the public to the waiting open doors and outside festival of the African-American Museum in Philadelphia “Celebrates the Diaspora” Juneteenth Celebration. The public is treated to a day of family fun Juneteenth activities across the City of Philadelphia.
On June 21st, Father’s Day, the public are asked to gather at gravesites of ancestors, housed at Eden Cemetery; the likes of Octavius Catto, Gotten, Absalom Jones, and William Still. Buried at Eden is Jovida Hill son and men like David Bustill Bowser and Jeremiah Asher whose stories helped shape our understanding of the USCT. At the gravesites of these ancestors Eden staff will re-enact Philadelphia’s original Honor thy Ancestor’s Libations Ceremony. History is such, those from the Many Nations in Africa would gather at the gravesites of their love one’s and their ancestors. They would dance and drum and perform their ancestral libation ceremony as a tribute to their ancestors and their immediate and extended family members. The Philadelphia Juneteenth Family also on June 21st does the honors by celebrating Juneteenth in Africa Town, along Southwest Philly’s Woodland Ave.
“A Gathering at the Crossroads” Juneteenth commemorations conclude in Western Pennsylvania. 5,000 participants are being called from across the world to mobilize in Pittsburg PA on Saturday June 27th, 2020 to re-enact the April 26th 1870 Jubilee of Freemen Parade. Pittsburg PA will host a Woman’s Suffrage 19th Amendment Panel Discussion on June 22nd and a Men’s 15th Amendment Panel Discussion on June 25th. Pittsburgh’s surrounding counties; New Castle, Indiana, Bedford, Sewickley, Johnstown, etc. will from June 15th– 30th host Juneteenth Programs in their communities in celebration of Pennsylvania’s first official Juneteenth National Freedom Holiday Year, 2020.