The typical faces of the Civil Rights Movement are men, Rosa Parks being the token female face, but the women of the Civil Rights were just as influential and crucial to the success of the movement. Though I am a few days late in celebrating Women’s Day, all the incredible women of the Civil Rights Movement we are studying, the incredible women I am traveling with, and women everywhere deserve some recognition.
To the women who came before us and stood up for every woman’s right to vote, thank you for giving me that privilege. To the women who won every woman’s right to an education, thank you for giving me that gift. To the women who made thousands of cheese sandwiches for the people who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago, thank you for giving strength. To the women who marched boldly across that bridge singing from the depths of your souls, thank you for spreading hope. To the women married to the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement who encouraged them each night after long days of opposition, thank you for ensuring progress. To the women who got on their knees to plead God’s mercy and favor, thank you for imparting faith.
To the ladies traveling on this Civil Rights Pilgrimage who listen intently and question boldly, thank you for gaining and sharing wisdom. To the ladies on this journey who carry themselves with respectful but bold conviction, thank you for inspiring confident humility. To the ladies on this journey who love authentically and find reasons to laugh regardless of circumstance, thank you for gifting life and joy. To the ladies on this journey from all different ethnicities and backgrounds who danced and laughed in our hotel gym last night, thank you for embracing unity and diversity.
To women everywhere, don’t let a mirror or a blinded soul convince you that you aren’t beautiful. Don’t let history or yesterday define your worth or your influence. Don’t let tradition or societal norms determine what your dreams can be. Spread hope. Give strength. Ensure progress. Impart Faith. Use your voice and vote. Take advantage of quality education. Share your wisdom. Inspire confident humility. Gift life and joy. Embrace unity and diversity. And do it with a little dance in your step and a song in your voice, as we keep moving forward. Cheers to being a woman!