In 1978, the Sonoma, California, School District organized a weeklong recognition of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. Dozens of schools participated. There was a parade in Santa Rosa.
Two years later, President Jimmy Carter declared the first full week in March as National Women’s History Week. The next year, Congress made the week an annual observance. And in 1987, Congress, at the urging of the National Women’s History Project, designated March as Women’s History Month.
This year’s theme – Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced – started last year with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
A timely theme, to be sure.
The National Museum of American History has a website celebrating the month: “Girlhood (It’s Complicated).” The site can be found at this link: www.americanhistory.si.edu/girlhood.
It details, the website explains, “how girls changed history in five areas: politics, education, work, health, and fashion. We argue that girlhood has an unexpected and complicated history and that girls, like suffragists, used their voices to make a difference.”
One small detail: Pepperidge Farm opened its bakery near Interstate 4 in Lakeland in August 1987. Not so well known: Pepperidge Farm was founded by a woman: Margaret Rudkin, who had no manufacturing or marketing experience. She also didn’t have much money.
Pepperidge Farm began in a Fairfield, Connecticut, farm kitchen in 1937, with the only product being an all-natural bread baked for her sick child. A mail-order business soon followed.
Another local angle: A Smithsonian poster exhibit, “Picturing Women Inventors,” is currently on display at the Polk County Administration Building, 330 W. Church Street., Bartow. The exhibit will be on display until the end of this month and explores the inventions of 19 highly accomplished American women, including astronauts, computer pioneers, businesswomen, athletes, engineers and teenagers.
Local women featured: the late Judge Karla Wright, the first Black woman to preside within the 10th Judicial Circuit, and Carol Jenkins Barnett, daughter of Publix Super Markets founder George Jenkins. She is recognized for her long support of children’s literacy.
There’s also an app for that. This month, the Apple Store is featuring an “App of the Day” and “Game of the Day” from a woman creator. The Apple Arcade is also showcasing games featuring female characters.
Meanwhile, on the Android side of things, Google Play has a new creative initiative. The site interviewed several senior-level directors and designers at prominent mobile game developers to learn how they started their careers and found success as a woman in the gaming industry.
Finally, Epic!, is a website with 40,000-plus books available free for children 12 and younger. There are dozens of books related to Women’s History Month at this link: www.tinyurl.com/EpicWHM.
Lonnie Brown can be reached at [email protected].