Students Explore Black Women’s Contributions in the Face of Discrimination

Byline: by Shin Young Lee

Posted: March 28, 2012

20 people gathered in Sarah’s Coffeehouse for the presentation of "19th Century Black Women: Work, Freedom and Philanthropy." Three students who took the "Black Women in 19th Century America" class last semester prepared their presentation to celebrate Women’s History Month. Associate Prof. of History, Kay Ackerman coordinated the presentation on Feb. 28.

March is Women’s History Month, which corresponds with the International Women’s Day on March 8. This month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. President Obama announced this year’s theme: "Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment." Student presentations showed African American women who were also empowered by a commitment to work, life, freedom and philanthropy.

Christin Warner ‘13 made a presentation on Ida B. Wells. Wells worked as an African American journalist despite gender and race discrimination. "That’s why she was called "journalism princess," Warner says. Wells’ life inspired Warner and that is why she chose Wells as her topic. She is one of the first women who kept her last name after marriage. And she took two tours to Europe on her campaign .

'Call Me Wild Fire'

Dana Hill ‘13 began her presentation with the title "Call Me Wild Fire." Wild Fire is Edmonia Lewis’ native name. Lewis was the first African American and Native American woman to gain fame and recognition as a sculptor in the international fine arts world. "In her time, many people thought women could only teach or be a mother. But [Lewis] didn’t. She became a sculptor even though her parents were opposed to her," Hill says.

Lewis did not work for women’s civil rights like Wells. Lewis wanted acknowledgement as an artist, not a "colored girl". "I understand her. I guess she just wanted to focus on her art work. She used marble which was contrast to her own color," Hill says.

The need for a close community

Lastly Timmurra Morton ‘13 talked about Anna Julia Cooper who emphasized the importance of education. "In the 19th century there were black communities. But now we don’t have close communities in black society. I believe close community is needed," Morton says.

"I graduated from a white-dominant high school so I didn’t realize my identity as a black and a woman. This project and presentation gave me an opportunity to think," says Morton.

Last Updated: March 29, 2012

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