Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month
Valiant Women of the Vote:  Victories and Untold Stories
March 2020

In August 1920, the United States Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the government from denying the voting rights of citizens strictly based on their gender. This was the first of many more steps to granting all women the right to vote—a right for which the fight continues into our current age. As we celebrate the 100 years of women’s right to vote, we will examine stories of victories and triumphs, as well as those stories that have been forgotten or largely untold. Join the James Farmer Multicultural Center, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the College of Education; the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication; the Department of History and American Studies; the Department of Music; and the Honors Program, and UMW student organizations as we celebrate the resilient, victorious generations of women who have paved the way for us today.

Based on the University’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, all James Farmer Multicultural Center events until April 6 have been cancelled. 

For updates on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), visit FAQs.  For any other questions or concerns, please email healthupdates@umw.edu or call/leave a message at 540-654-1999.

A First Daughter’s White House Wedding: Etiquette Wars & Celebration at Stephen Decatur’s House
Thursday, March 5 | 7 – 8:30 p.m. | Monroe Hall, Room 116
Sponsored by the James Monroe Museum

Author Lauren McGwin shares the story of Maria Monroe’s marriage to Samuel Laurence Gouverneur and the complexities behind their private White House wedding. Although offended when not invited to the wedding, high society was welcomed to a reception at Commodore Stephen Decatur’s house in the President’s Neighborhood, just days before the duel that would take his life.

Anita: Speaking Truth to Power – Movie & Discussion
Monday, March 9 | 5 p.m. | Colonnade Room, University Center
Against a backdrop of sex, politics, and race, ANITA reveals the intimate story of a woman who spoke truth to power. An entire country watched as a poised, beautiful African-American woman sat before a Senate committee of 14 white men and with a clear, unwavering voice recounted the repeated acts of sexual harassment she had endured while working with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Anita Hill’s graphic testimony was a turning point for gender equality in the U.S. and ignited a political firestorm about sexual harassment and power in the workplace that resonates still today.


Great Lives Series: Female Internet Inventors
Tuesday, March 10 | 7 p.m. | Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall
The history of technology you probably know is one of men and machines, garages and riches, alpha nerds and brogrammers – but female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology and innovation. In fact, women turn up at the very beginning of every important wave in technology. They may have been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we do not even realize, but they have always been part of the story. In Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet (Penguin Random House), Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her insightful social history of the women who made the Internet what it is today.


Undergraduate Research Forum on Women’s and Gender Studies
Wednesday, March 11 | 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. | Lee Hall, Room 411
Join UMW students as they showcase their undergraduate research in women’s and gender studies. Cash prizes will be awarded. Contact Professor Kate Haffey at khaffey@umw.edu for more information regarding submission of entries.


Women’s History Month Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Monday, March 23 | 7 p.m. | Chandler Ballroom C, University Center

Co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences; the Department of American Studies; the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion; the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communications; the Department of Psychological Sciences; the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the James Farmer Multicultural Center; and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Ph.D., is the author of the short story collection, Blue Talk and Love (2015). In her fiction, she explores the intellectual, emotional, and bodily lives of young black women, through voice, music, and hip-hop inflected magical realist techniques. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Writing, American Fiction: Best New Stories by Emerging Writers, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize Stories, BLOOM: Queer Fiction, Art, Poetry and More, TriQuarterly, Feminist Studies All About Skin: Short Stories by Award-Winning Women Writers of Color, Baobab: South African Journal of New Writing and many others. She is the winner of the Charles Johnson Fiction Award, the James Baldwin Memorial Playwriting Award, and fellowships, scholarships and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Yaddo Colony, the Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat, and the Center for Fiction in New York City, where she received a 2011 Emerging Writers Fellowship.

Mecca is Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at UMass Amherst. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Temple University, and a B.A. in Afro-American Studies from Smith College. A proud native of Harlem, NY, her critical and scholarly work on sexuality, identity, and poetics in contemporary African Diaspora culture has appeared in publications including Palimpsest: Journal of Women, Gender and the Black International, Jacket2, Public Books, GLQ: Lesbian and Gay Studies Quarterly, From Uncle Tom’s Cabin the The Help: Critical Perspectives on White-Authored Narratives of Black Life, Ebony.com, Zora Magazine, TheRoot.com, Ms. Magazine online, and The Feminist Wire, where she serves as Associate Editor for Arts & Culture.

Reflections on the 19th Amendment
Monday, March 16 | 4:00 p.m. | Digital Auditorium, Hurley Convergence Center
Sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program

A panel of scholars and activists will reflect on the suffrage movement, the women’s vote, what the 19th Amendment achieved and the issues it left unaddressed and finally, the role of women’s vote in American politics today. Light refreshments will be served.

‘It’s Awfully Important to Listen’: Ella Jenkins and Children’s Music in the United States
Thursday, March 26 | 5 p.m. | Combs Hall Room 139
Sponsored by the College of Education; the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication; the Department of History and American Studies; the Department of Music; and the Honors Program
This lecture focuses on Ella Jenkins, the single most important children’s musician of the 20th century and a major force in what is now sometimes called “multicultural” children’s music. The winner of a Grammy, an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, and other honors, she has made more than 40 albums on the independent Folkways label (now Smithsonian-Folkways). The talk explores the ways Jenkins, a black woman from Chicago’s South Side, disrupted notions of children’s music through her repertoire and musical/pedagogical practice. Lecture will be followed by a Q&A with Professor Gayle Wald, George Washington University.

Great Lives Series: Hedy Lemarr
Tuesday, March 31 | 7 p.m. | Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall
Beautiful Austrian-born film actress Hedy Lamarr (nee Kiesler) was born to wealthy Jewish parents in Vienna in 1914. The only child in a privileged household, she was blessed with with remarkable beauty, famously acclaimed at early age by a noted film director as “the most beautiful girl in the world.” The movie Ectaze, with its then-scandalous sex scenes, made her a star in Europe.

But there was more—much more—to the life of Hedy Lamarr. Largely unknown at the time, she had been in 1941 the co-developer of a patent of what she called “frequency hopping”—a method of wireless communication that eventually became the basis of every cell phone, WiFi, Bluetooth, and defense communication device now in existence. As a result, in 1997, three years before her death, the International Scientific Community recognized her as having “one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century.”

This from a woman whose beauty was also her curse. No one of her generation could see the intelligence behind that remarkable face. Yet Hedy Lamarr, of all actors and actresses in history, left behind the dual gift of an extensive film history canon, as well as that of scientific discovery.

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information, please contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center at 540/654-1044 or visit www.students.umw.edu/multicultural.