It’s about time. Pardon me. I meant, it’s about DAMN time. The first I’d heard of the National Women’s History Museum was in February of 2012 when Joan Bradley Wages, president and chief executive of the museum presented to the American News Women’s Club members and guests.
The NWHM, founded in 1996 is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution dedicated top reserving, interpreting and celebrating the diverse historic contributions of women, and integrating this rich heritage fully into our nationâ€™s history. It is the only Congressionally recognized and approved museum focused solely on womenâ€™s history.
I went back to my original post and pulled this excerpt:
“While the land for the future site of the NWHM has yet to be purchased, the plans drawn up, and hundreds of millions of dollars raised, this organization has fought tooth and nail for much already. We have the folks at NWHW to thank for bringing up the Womenâ€™s Suffrage statue (pictured above courtesy of the NWHM site) from the Capitol basement where it was relegated to literally a broom closet, up to the Rotunda. First argument? Congress said: â€œIt weighs too much for the Rotunda floor.â€ Well, it didnâ€™t because it sat there when it was first brought into the Capitol. Second excuse why Congress said it wouldnâ€™t bring up the statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony? Answer: â€œThe women are too uglyâ€. Considering all of our forefathers look like todayâ€™s GQ modelsâ€¦ yeah, right. And last and final argument that was presented by Congress? â€œIt will cost too much to move.â€ Well, the NWHM went out, raised the money (upwards of $80K, thank you) and there it sat â€¦ until they got the letter saying, â€œCongratulations on your achievement, you can only have it up there for XX amount of days. When will you raise the money to move it down back down in the basement? The display is over.â€ Ahem. Did you say, â€œraise money to bring it back down?â€ Hmm. Well, considering it took ONLY 75 YEARS to finally move it up to sunlight, letâ€™s think about that. I do hope when the new structure is built the statue moves out of the Capitol and into the Museumâ€¦where it belongs.”
And to think that was two years ago. Last year, the NWHM held its inaugural gala which honored great women (living legacies) and one man and was hosted by its spokesperson the great Meryl Streep.Â This year, I had the opportunity to attend its second awards ceremony held at the Reagan Building’s Amphitheatre because as of yet, they do not have their own building.Â The 2nd annual de Pizan Honors Gala paid homage to three living legends who were in attendance and gave beautifully delivered speeches.
The three who were honored were former U.S. Senator and former President of the American Red Cross, Elizabeth Hanford Dole, legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, renowned poet, author and playwright Dr. Maya Angelou. Also, Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes who wrote a book about Hedy Lamarr) was recipient of the Henry Blackwell Award (a 19th century advocate for social and economic reform who was one of the founders of the American Women Suffrage Association and who published the Womanâ€™s Journal, starting in 1870).
Each award was named in honor of historic figures in the same professional, artistic, or political and governmental area they have established themselves in. Renowned poet, historian and best-selling author Dr. Angelou received the Gwendolyn Brooks Living Legacy Award, named after one of the best known American poets in history.
Dole received the Clara Barton Living Legacy Award, named after the founder of the American Red Cross.Â Â Dole served as President of the American Red Cross from 1991 to 1999, becoming the first female head of the Red Cross since its founder, Clara Barton.
Leibovitz, one of the most acclaimed photographers in the world today, received the Dorothea Lange Living Legacy Award, named after Lange, an influential American photojournalist best known for her work for the Farm Security Administration whose works helped humanize the consequences of the Great Depression and influenced the development of documentary photography.
Renowned poet, historian and best-selling author Dr. Angelou received the Gwendolyn Brooks Living Legacy Award, named after one of the best known American poets in history.Â Dr. Angelouâ€™s award was accepted on her behalf by her cousin, Dr. Gloria Herndon, who served as the eveningâ€™s co-chair and flew from Africa for the evening.
Before each honoree took to the stage, a video played about for whom each award was named, then went right into a comprehensive visual about the honoree. It was clear to see why these women (and man) were chosen. All fearless were and are pioneers during their time, breaking molds, kicking through glass ceilings, never taking no for an answer, fighting and believing in what their passions were and still are.Â They are tireless, fierce, and “disregard the tyranny of the precedent” as Dole said.
The emcees for the night were â€œFrangelaâ€ (Frances Callier and Angela V. Shelton) who the 300 attendees found hilarious as they commented on what could be found at the museum’s future gift shop like a Mary Todd Lincoln mood ring, Ameila Earhart post cards, a Betsy Ross bedazzler, an Oprah toaster, juicer, Oprah anything, and several other creative ideas. The eloquent, class-act Joan Bradley Wages, whom I recognized immediately, commented from the podium that the NWHM and the de Pizan awards were established to bring womenâ€™s history to light, with the goal of educating people about the key role women have had throughout history and about the need to build a womenâ€™s history museum on the National Mall.
To learn more about the National Women’s History Museum, to join membership or support, please go to:
http://www.nwhm.org/ (and make sure you view the progress they have made as well as the very prestigious board, partners and support)
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a platform for profiling people who "make it happen" in the Capital region, reviews & topical blog posts. She launched Punch Enterprises, a connector consulting business in 2015 and Pacific Punch based in LA, in 2012. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, VA. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.