Happy Women’s History Month, women of influence!
Women are nurturers and have been soothing life’s pains and ills for centuries. When mothers welcome their children into the world, their only concerns are for the needs of their children. In honor of Women History Month, I’d like to pay homage to the women influencers who impacted my world and led me to make me better by making better life choices, including keeping a positive outlook on life, speaking out against injustice, encouraging the voice in others, listening to the concerns of our children, welcoming the wisdom of the elders and staying true to the woman I have become.
Here are my 13 picks for authentic women of influence who impacted my life choices.
My mom- bless the heart of my mother who would have tuned 87 years old this month in March, had she not transitioned in 2001. Mama taught me morals, values, compassion for others and took me to church where I learned the spiritual foundation of one God who gave his son so that I could have life. Because of my mama’s dedication to church and God, I live a spiritually grounded life.
Jacqueline Eubanks- my best friend and mentor for well over 20 years. Before I even accepted that my love & passion was in my work as writer and advocate, my creative gifts were recognized and encouraged by this woman of wisdom and influence. She used her own money to purchase literary books for me to read and encouraged me to live my dreams…
Maya Angelou’s, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, lit a fire in the bosoms of a then 18 year old naive country girl and made it alright for her to speak her truths.
Angela Davis allowed me the freedom to be proud of the black skin I am in. I was the only girl in my high school class in the 70s to wear an afro on graduation day. I was saying it loud and very proud!
Helen Gurley Brown made it okay for young women to talk about sex without thinking God was going to strike them down. I wasn’t having much sex, but the thought was constantly on my mind:)
Lord, I was feeling so down after hearing news reports about the cases of unsolved murders of little black boys in Atlanta. When I read “Those Riding The Night Winds”, I knew this sistah’s compassion mirrored my own. And her love for the genius of Tupac Shakur doesn’t go unnoticed.
Ms. Brooks was special guest at a poetry slam I attended in the city. I tentatively gave her a copy of my one and only book of poems that night and hurried back to my seat. I wondered if she’d even bother to read them. Weeks later, I received a small card in the mail. A thank you card from Gwendolyn Brooks assuring me that she recognized the positives in my work and advised me to “keep-a-going!”
I didn’t really understand what a feminist was, until I heard Gloria Steinem speak! Women are not subservient , docile creatures that walk ten paces behind their men. We have something to contribute to society and that something matters!
She had an interesting, although short life where she smoked and drank and wrote historical plays, including the historical, “ A Raisin In The Sun.” Inspired by brilliance, My attempt to write a one-act play got a rejection from a Louisville Theater, along with an invite to submit again the following year.
My older brothers would steal “raunchy” albums from our parents room and listen to them in their absence. I was younger and no threat to my siblings secrets, so I listened too. This woman with the raspy brand/voice of humor, made laughter a necessary component to ease life’s struggles. (sort of akin to BLUES music) It was ratchet stuff, but I loved me some Moms Mabley. I learned later in life about the savvy business woman behind the stage name and Moms persona.
Wow, to be an activist for your people. To stand up against a country built on the foundation that was known as Apartheid. I was so impressed by how this woman stood beside her husband, Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned because of his fight against white supremacy in his native land. Winnie Mandela helped to change a nation and that takes courage.
There’s no one like Cicely Tyson. She’s a real actress, whose roles in film and television reflects a caring and compassionate woman who stands for freedom and the rights of all people.
Geraldine Page in “ The Trip To Bountiful” reflects the realism of women on the journey to finding their “ish”..that awesome and unforgettable something that came from soil of their soil and, that oftentimes cause them to want to recapture that place in time.
After 4 decades of living life. I’ve learned from so many wonderful folks in the world, men and women. I’ve not personally met any of them, save for Ms. Brooks, but I’ve learned from them and taken nuggets of wisdom from their life experiences, for the betterment of my own. If there’s a woman or women you’d like to honor for Women’s History Month, please feel free to share.
Remember your greatness and always treat yourself special.