Thursday, March 10, 2011

Women's Hall of Fame

Who knew? I had no idea there was such a thing. There is. These women were inducted this year:

St. Katharine Drexel
Dorothy Harrison Eustis
Loretta C. Ford
Abby Kelley Foster
Helen Murray Free
Coretta Scott King
Lilly Ledbetter
Barbara Kikulski
Donn Shalala
Kathryn Switzer

I want to know more about these women, and will look them up. I would say I would write something about them, but I hate to make promises I can't keep. It's nice to know there is such a place. They have a website: There are a total of 236 women included. In all of America, that's what we came up with. I think we can do better with numbers. Quality can't be challenged, even if quantity is desperately lacking.

Most of the women inducted this year are still alive. It's touching to look and see and say - I know her! My known is not alive. Coretta Scott King - more correctly, Yoki's momma. As many of you know, she was no icon to me. She was a classmates mother, a human being, someone who did not think twice about snatching me baldheaded if I did wrong. Honestly, she never raised a hand to me. She raised an eyebrow. The woman had a look - most mothers then had one, but I swear to you black women ruled the world with it. White women just never caught up to any black woman's look. Freeze you in your tracks. A room full a screaming, playing, running, jumping, terrorist children at full speed and Momma King could sneak up to the door, stand there, never say a word, just aim that look. Instantly, nine full speed children stop dead in their tracks. Paralyzed. No doubt, we are all better people for it.

It seems strange to me sometimes how much black women took part in the proper upbringing of white young ladies. Every black woman I ever knew considered it her sacred duty to make sure I kept my dress and shoes clean and tidy, sat like a lady at all times and respected my elders. Any one (or all) could take me down if I even had an un-lady-like thought. "Young ladies don't act like that, missy, sit straight in your chair." "Don't cross your legs, that's trashy." Trashy. OMG - the horror of all horrors was to be trashy. We had thousands of strange, arcane rules of behavior instilled in us perpetually. But we were watched, attended, loved, nurtured and are better women for having been raised by the legions of Southern women, black and white, who never wavered in their determination to see us grow up to be great women.

Great women rule the world. From the cradle to the grave, day in and day out in a million little ways they raise us up. Our village is all the better for it.