Women’s History Month is a time where we honor and celebrate the dedicated and progressive contributions women have have made in our history. The theme of 2022 is, “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” According to the National Women’s History Alliance website, “Healing is the personal experience of transcending suffering and transforming it to wholeness… Together, healing and hope are essential fuels for our dreams and our recovery.” This year, we focus on history’s famous caregivers that have made an historical difference.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest serving First Lady throughout President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (FDR) four terms in office. She was an early and vocal supporter of civil rights for African-Americans and oftentimes was criticized early in her husband’s administration for her outspoken stance on many issues of the day. Eleanor Roosevelt transformed the role of the First Lady reflecting her sincerity of purpose and graciousness. When her husband was diagnosed with polio in 1921, she tended him devotedly. She became active in the women’s division of the State Democratic Committee to keep his interest in politics alive. From his successful campaign for governor in 1928 to the day of his death (in 1945), she dedicated her life to actively helping achieve his objectives, oftentimes representing him on extensive tours throughout the country.
After her husband’s death she remained active in politics serving as a United States delegate to The United Nations. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed her chair of his Commission on the Status of Women, and she continued with that work until shortly before her death. According to The White House website, Eleanor Roosevelt “grew into a woman with great sensitivity to the underprivileged of all creeds, races, and nations. Her constant work to improve their lot made her one of the most loved–and for some years one of the most revered–women of her generation.”
According to biography.com, “Anne Sullivan was a gifted teacher best known for her work with Helen Keller... At only 20 years of age, Sullivan showed great maturity and ingenuity in teaching Keller and worked hard with her pupil, bringing both women much acclaim. Sullivan even helped Keller write her autobiography.” Her child-centered teaching method became the blueprint for education of children who were deaf-blind that still continues today. Thanks to the outstanding nature support of Sullivan, Keller was the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college. Overall, Anne’s story lives on through theatre and Broadway productions . and, interestingly it was Mark Twain who dubbed Anne “The Miracle Worker”. Bishop James E. Freeman stated at her funeral, “The touch of her hand did more than illuminate the pathway of a clouded mind; it literally emancipated a soul.”
As Black History Month and American Heart Month have just passed, I would like to honor Queen Latifah. She has shown a larger-than-life career in the film and music industry. More importantly, she was a caregiver for her mother, Rita Owens, upon diagnosis of heart failure in 2004. Ideas of fear turned into a motivation upon development of the Rise Above Heart Failure movement in 2016, partnering with other organizations throughout that time. Finally, Latifah states “The truth is, caregiving can be hard. Like most things in life, there is a certain element of trial and error. When I look back, I realized I’ve learned a lot from my past experiences. Like anybody else, my mom and I are human.”
Overall, Women’s History Month is a time to honor those who have made a difference. If you would like to make a difference this month, donate to or volunteer for a local women’s empowerment organization. Make “HER-story!”