How did you learn your ABC’s? In honor of Women’s History Month, we close out March inspired by the new children’s book Rad American Women A-Z.
The book puts a modern spin on the classic ABC’s but equally important is the modern understanding of women in history. The Rad Alphabet includes activists like Angela Davis and Dolores Huerta, architect Maya Lin, and pilot Queen Bessie Coleman. But perhaps the most important homage is Letter X – “For the Women Whose Names We Don’t Know.” As author Kate Schatz explains, “I wanted to focus on the stories that aren’t always part of the standard telling of women’s history. With all respect to Susan B. and Rosa and Helen and Gloria, I want to try to introduce readers to women they aren’t likely to have heard of.”
St. Thomas reflected this same rad spirit here on campus throughout Women’s History Month. Early in March the Luann Dummer Center for Women sponsored Winona LaDuke’s presentation on “Women and Native Struggles: Toward Ecological Transformation.” An Ojibwe who lives in Northern Minnesota, LaDuke is an author, activist, and former Vice-Presidential candidate. She spoke to a full house at OEC and brought the evening to a close with a musical performance echoing her emphasis on honoring the earth.
Equally inspiring was Piper Kerman’s talk on women in the U.S. prison system. Student Diversity and Inclusion Services organized Kerman’s talk to complement their J-Term book club reading of Orange is the New Black. In addition to recounting some of her own experiences serving one year in minimum-security prison, Kerman spoke of the alarming rise in the female prison population in the U.S. – 800% in the past 30 years – and the role of race, class, and education (to name a few social forces) in the criminal justice system.
LaDuke and Kerman introduced the UST community to a lot of women “whose names we don’t know.” Who would you add to the women’s history alphabet?