The commemoration of Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in 1978 in Santa Rosa, California, during the 2nd week of March. It was created by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8.
As the celebration aimed momentum across the nation, the National Women’s History Alliance successfully petitioned President Jimmy Carter to issue a proclamation declaring a National Women’s History Week. Subsequent president continued the annual proclamations, before the entire month of March was designated in 1987 as Women’s History Month.
“Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men who names we know so well.”
- President Jimmy Carter’s Message designating March 2-8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week
The Kimmel Cultural Campus celebrates Women’s History Month all season long by featuring female talent both on and off the stage. To mark the month itself, we asked the women of our own Kimmel Cultural Campus community to honor a woman they admire from history, either past or present.
See below for each participant’s answer to the question — “If you could have a conversation with any woman from history, who would you choose and why?”
“I would love to have a conversation with Viola Davis – American actress, producer, activist, and humanitarian. She exudes vibrant qualities of tenacity, self-love, and a continuous drive towards her passion. She is the first African American to win a “Triple Crown” in acting (Emmy, Academy, and two Tony Awards). She believes ‘it is her duty as a human citizen to not put out perfectionist images. And if that doesn’t please people so be it.’ Davis promotes the importance of representation for women of color to be their authentic self. She encourages beauty inclusivity, self-worth, and empowerment. Inspiring me to always recognize my worth as a woman – ‘Because I’m worth it.’”
Doris Parent, Vice President of IDEAS & Strategic Partnerships
honoring Viola Davis - Actress, Producer, Activist & Humanitarian
“I chose Betty because not only was she an incredible actress for over seven decades, who produced her own shows and fought for inclusion of everyone, but she also was an activist for a cause near and dear to my heart – animals. She was teaching and educating people about animal rights for not just dogs and cats, but all wildlife for years. After her passing, the outpouring of love and donations to animal organizations in her honor warmed my heart. We lost a dear, beautiful soul in Betty but I know she is looking down happy at what just happened with all that support to the animals.”
Brenda McNamee, Head Usher, Academy of Music
honoring Betty White, Actress & Animal Activist
“Frida Kahlo is one of the most recognized artists of modern history. She is viewed as the icon of feminist creativity. Through her exploration of self and identity in her art, Kahlo left her stamp on the world. I’d love to hear from her personally about her life and what her impact meant to her.”
Gabby Castaño, Programmatic Marketing Associate
honoring Frida Kahlo, Artist
“If I could have a conversation with any woman from arts history, I would choose Eartha Kitt! She survived so many painful experiences in her childhood, but did not let that stop her from becoming a powerful force of nature to behold both as a performer and as a woman in the world with fierce opinions. Every time I’ve seen her in interviews, I wish I had an ounce of her courage and her charm. This world can make it so hard to be a Black woman with a voice, but she shared hers with us and we are all the better for it.”
Adrienne Beckham, Ticketing Operations Associate
honoring Eartha Kitt, Performer & Activist
“As a young girl, I was transfixed watching Ann Reinking in Annie, the movie musical. Ann’s fluid body movements and inner glow were captivating. Learning that she was actually a Broadway star of many musicals such as Pippin, A Chorus Line, and Chicago helped spark my own journey with musical theater. She was a humble and passionate dancer who left her mark on the industry. During the course of her long career in the business, Ann set a standard for quality dancing, directing, and acting at many stages of her life. She became the epitome of Fosse style. I would love to talk to her about her place in the theater industry during the different ages and stages of her vibrant life.”
Katie Curtis, Senior Accounting Manager
honoring Ann Reinking, Performer
“I chose Joan because over the 20 years I have been ushering at her shows, she always talked to us [the ushers], joked with us, and asked us about our day. I also admire how she kept everyone in line – both her students and the parents! She encourages everyone that you can achieve whatever you want to do if you just put your mind to it. Joan just inspires me so much and it was a blessing to meet her.”
“I chose Audre because I have always loved her quote, ‘We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.’ I admire how she is always able to say the hard things that no one else will.”
Laronda Richardson, Associate Director of Venue Services
honoring Audre Lorde - Writer, Feminist, Poet, & Civil Rights Activist
See answers from our past participants in 2019 and 2020.
Also, don’t miss your chance to see VisionForward’s A Seat At The Table Exhibition on display in our Plaza through the end of March 2022. This FREE, interactive display commemorates the 19th Amendment — establishing women’s right to vote — and asks 100 years later, “Where are we now?”. Visitors will experience the current status of gender equality in the U.S. through 3D infographic furniture.