Celebrate Women Who Tell Our Stories
March is Women’s History Month
Let’s start at the beginning…
International Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 8, 1911.
At this time, multiple countries celebrated with demonstrations, educational initiatives, and customs.
Following 63 years of celebration, the United Nations began sponsoring International Women’s Day in 1975.
Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month originated as a national week-long celebration in 1981.
Dr. Gerda Lerner and the National Women’s History Alliance championed the push for a national celebration highlighting the achievements of women. The celebration highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
The First Steps
President Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week in February 1980.
Following the proclamation, Congress passed Pub. L. (public law) 97-28 which authorized and requested a presidential proclamation to deem the week beginning March 7, 1982, as Women’s History Week.
Sharing the Importance of Women’s History
By 1986, 14 states already declared March as Women’s History Month.
This movement by the states was a driving factor in lobbying Congress to declare the entire month of March 1987 as National Women’s History Month.
Each March, we reflect on the often-overlooked contributions of women to the United States.
Celebrating in 2023
This Women’s History Month, we are celebrating women who tell our stories. We recognize
Authors we’re celebrating
Yaa Gyasi was born in 1989 in Mampong, Ghana. Her family moved to the United States in 1991 when her father was completing his Ph.D. at Ohio State University. From the age of 10, she was raised in Huntsville, Alabama.
Gyasi always felt close to her brothers growing up because of their shared immigrant experiences. She’s been quoted as saying she considered books her closest friends.
A Writer on the Rise
The young writer submitted her first story to the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest. Undoubtedly, she was encouraged to continue writing when she received a certificate of achievement signed by LeVar Burton.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Standford University and a Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop – a creative writing program through the University of Iowa.
Gyasi’s debut novel, Homecoming, was published in 2016 at age 26. Her novel received numerous awards including the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first book of fiction and The American Book Award.
Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Maria Machado, a Parkland High School graduate, was born in Allentown, PA on July 3, 1986. She grew up in a very religious United Methodist household which led to a sense of guilt about her professed queer sexuality for several years.
Machado received her Bachelor’s from American University and her Master’s in Fine Arts from the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop.
Writer, Educator, Author
Machado previously worked as a freelance writer and adjunct professor at Rosemont College before becoming a Writer in Residence in 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania. Following her residency, she was a visiting professor at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop during the Spring 2021 session.
Her Body and Other Parties, a collection of short stories, won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award John Leonard prize and was a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for fiction.
Meredith Russo, a mother of two, was just beginning her transition when she started her debut novel If I Was Your Girl. Importantly, the YA novel, published in 2016, is the first widely distributed YA book about transgender teens written by a transgender woman.
Russo used writing about a trans girl as a way of processing her own feelings and anxieties. Her goal was to write the book she needed as a teenager. If I Were Your Girl won the Stonewall Book Award for YA in 2017 and the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature in 2017.
Advocate for the Transgender Community
She received her degree in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies from the University of Tennessee. Additionally, Russo is one of only a few prominent transgender women speaking about transgender issues and creating transgender art. She frequently speaks about politics, gender, writing, and publishing.
She’s aware society is still in a place where cis people are coming to terms with the idea of trans people. Nevertheless, she’s “glad a trans woman can be in this position because I needed visible trans adults who weren’t treated like jokes when I was young.”
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