The preamble to the U.S. Constitution reads: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
As we celebrate March as Women’s History Month, first recognize that freedom is not bound or chained by situation or circumstances. Freedom is the presence of mind to take action from what was to what is. The power of silence did not crack the vault for human rights, voting rights, religious freedom, military, education nor political rights, so that our voice shall not be heard audibly in the world of silence.
On so many miles of traveling on this road of life, national federal and local, women are the silent voices that rattle the nation through the challenges of inclusion.
Many of these heroines’ voices still speak to us. Sojourner Truth declared in 1851, “Ain’t I A Woman?” from the pain of exclusion to the cry of inclusion. “The voice that changed a nation” was Claudette Colvin, the founder of the Montgomery bus boycott nine months before Rosa Parks would give up her seat on the bus, both females too tired to give up their seat, one from a hard day at school, the other a hard day at work.
Elizabeth C. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were “Foremothers of Democracy” in the struggle for women’s equality. That struggle began in 1848 and brought forth the 18th Amendment after a 70-yard battle that gave women the right to vote in August 1920. The fruit of their labors was born in Wyoming, the origin of women’s voting rights, where Tayloe Ross was elected the first female governor in 1924.
Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American female politician, educator and author elected to Congress from New York in 1968, and ran for president in 1972. That gave rise in 2016 to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a New York senator and secretary of state.
These are just a few women on the national road of inclusion. Madeline K. Albright, the first woman to serve as secretary of state, said it best: “Success without democracy is improbable; democracy without women is impossible.”
So as we honor these pioneers, trailblazers and countless other unsung heroines, remember: Don’t let silence destroy the flame of justice and keep us from forming a more perfect union.
the Rev. Evelyn Johnson
Bethel AME Church, Gainesville