For the past 13 years, I’ve worked almost exclusively for Black women and their families. That means I spend my time working for our entire community, including male spouses, brothers, fathers, sons, nephews, cousins. I know many Black women who do just as much as I do or more.
We’re not always the first to be mentioned as worthy of honor during Black History Month. More often than not, Black men come to be rightly celebrated for their achievements. But what about Black women?
We then come to Women’s History Month and often hope for recognition of more of our sisters, but the first generally mentioned are White women. We endure that without bitterness, and we continue serving our causes as Black people and as women. It’s often left up to sisters to celebrate sisters (Black women, I mean).
A White male friend often says, “If you want to get a job done, give it to a woman; if you really want to get it done and done well, give it to a Black woman.” Most Black women believe as Dr. George W. Carver did when he said, “It’s not the kind of clothing we wear, nor the kind of car we drive, nor how much money we have in the bank. It is simply our service that measures our success.”
By that formula, Black women deserve celebration not just in March, but every day! I, therefore, never fail to mention some Black woman in every public speech I make.
Dr. Dorothy Irene Height is one example. She said, “Black women don’t always get to do what we want to do, but we always do what we have to do.”
One of my all-time favorite women is my mother, Mrs. Frances Lacour Williams-Johnson. She is nearly 96 years old now, still advising her children and grandchildren.
She reared nine children without the benefit of our father being in our home at the time all of us were under 12 years old. Yet, I never remember being hungry, without proper clothing or school gear, without getting to school every day – rain, shine, sleet or snow – or without knowing that we were all loved.
My mother is my most extraordinary sister! From her, I learned to respect and appreciate other Black women. Many of my “sheroes” were neighbors, teachers, aunts, and my own sisters by birth. These women were ordinary women who did extraordinary things.
Yes, there were, and still are, others from history that I cherish. Sojourner Truth worked not only for our rights as Black people, but for the rights of all women. There is Harriet Tubman, who loved her people so much that she forced some into freedom. Ida B. Wells Barnett protected our brothers from lynching at great danger to herself.
This week, I have the honor of starting as a host on WPFW-FM 89.3 radio, the station for jazz and justice. I look forward to introducing many phenomenal women to my readers through my program called, “Wake Up and Stay Woke.”
You’ll hear more about radio personality Bev Smith; brilliant attorney Roz Ray; Lezli Baskerville, president/CEO of the National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education; National Action Network Greater D.C. Chapter President Nia 2X; NAACP D.C. Chapter President Akosua Ali; Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester; United Food and Commercial Workers Vice President Robin Williams; sexual abuse survivor Lakisha Davis-Small; Jan Adams, owner of JMA Solutions that provides hundreds of jobs and is a major donor in our community; extraordinary journalist Hazel Trice Edney, who had the courage to start a wire service to tell our stories; and many more.
Look around you and celebrate a Black woman this month and every month hereafter. Black women are amazing!
Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via www.nationalcongressbw.org. Click on this commentary at www.daytonatimes.com to write your own response.