I want to dedicate this post to all women, irregardless of whether they’ve been written up in the pages of history books. Women, by their mere existence, create history that is unforeseen and untold every single day that they live and breathe~ so for all women, let me say, Happy Women’s History Month!
The novelist, Virginia Woolf wrote in her famous essay, A Room of One’s Own, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Viewed in a broader sense, the essay could reference any author’s need for poetic license and the personal liberty to create their art.
The artists I’ve chosen to honor for Women’s History Month, in essence, created from a room of their own. The “room” for the most part were of their own choosing, but sadly, one young girl had no say in the literal sense. Nonetheless, these women (and many more) craved out an impressive body of creative works that became a historical legacy.
Maya Angelou had me at I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. She was brutally raped as a little girl and only shared this secret with her brother, Bailey. When her uncles found out, the molester was killed. Maya did not speak for 5 years, blaming herself for the molester’s murder.
A 13-year-old Jewish victim of the Holocaust… Anne Frank went into hiding from the Germans with her family and another family for two years in a small annex above the office where her father once worked. It’s reported that Anne, her mom and sister died in the concentration camps and only her father would survive to publish her diary, written while in hiding.
Anne wrote in her diary that she wished her writings to live on in life. How prophetic her words were.
Nikki Giovanni has often been called a “Revolutionary” poet. All I know is her writing are often based on fact and it is those poems that touches the sensibilities of a nation of readers, including myself. A prolific writer, activist and highly guarded educator, Ms. Giovanni is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.
My very favorite of her many works includes: Those Who Ride The Night Winds, poems about the mass murders of young black boys in Atlanta totaling more than 29 young children killed. Ms. Giovanni poems, in my opinion, are a loving eulogy to the memory of those children. If you haven’t read any of Nikki Giovanni’s work, you are missing out on one of our greatest literary contributors.
I read Pearl S. Buck’s, The Good Earth in High School. The book introduced me to another culture and people with a different way of living. Although American, Ms. Buck lived in China for a while and associated with Chinese culture and tradition. I was impressed by the humanity of The Good Earth as it relates to a country’s change affecting regular people.
In another life, I opt to come back as Lorraine Hansberry! Not only was she the first African-American woman playwright, she was the first woman of color to have a play produced on Broadway! A Raisin in the Sun was inspired by Poet Langston Hughes poem, Harlem that asks, ” What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the Sun?”
Ms. Hansberry’s play would later inspire Nina Simone’s song, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black!” You know what they say, “The Play’s The Thing.” Lorraine Hansberry was the “ish” and sadly, gone too soon… The playwright died of pancreatic cancer in 1965. Sheer Brilliance!
Here’s a special clip for y’all 🙂
When Alice Walker was a little girl, she was playing in the backyard with her brothers, one of whom accidentally hit her in the eye with one of the pellets from his BB gun ( I remember those. My brothers got them for Christmas) . That accident never stopped Alice from living her dreams. One of the biggest dream in history was:
I’ve had several books from these historical women on my bookshelf, in what I can only describe as a stationary library for many years and felt that I could never part with any of these great works, but, alas, I have and I don’t regret passing them along (donations) to new readers and creatives and curious children who just might dare to dream 🙂
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I know that the works of these and other women history making artists are sitting on your bookshelf, vying for a little Women History Month love shout… Please share a few of your fave with us.
Writer’s quote for today:
“Only I hold the pen that will write the story of my life.” Tia Kelly