Just like Black History Month, Women’s History Month started our as only a week. Along the way, we were ultimately honored with an International Women’s Day. Women around the world are celebrated that day. There’s an African proverb that tells us, “It is the women who hold the sky up.” I can vouch for that in the Black community. So many Black women grew up without the benefit of fathers in our homes, but rarely do we to use that as an excuse for our not doing things that should be done to protect our families and communities. I’ve known some of the greatest female activists in the Black community who take on monumental roles.
Every March, we do a special celebration of the women. Some celebrate women every day of our lives. On a personal note, my mother is just a few months away from being 98 years old. She’s fine in most ways, but just a bit hard of hearing and having a bit of a challenge remembering things. Though she has lost a bit of her ability to live in her home alone, she wants to live there, and as a family we are making that possible.
When my brother passed away a few months ago, my sisters and I decided to take her to live with one of our sisters a distance of about three and a half hours from where Mother has lived alone all of her life since her nine children left home to strike out on our own. A few weeks ago, she informed us she wanted to return to her home. We reluctantly took her there. I spent a week with her once she was back. Another sister spent a week. Another sister spent two weeks with her to this point. A niece is on her way to spend a few days with her grandmother. Another sister is coming from Los Angeles to spend a month with her. We’ll then start the cycle all over again. Some might think the scheduling is a bit of a challenge since we are all many miles away, but my sisters and I thought about all the sacrifices our mother has made for us, and if she wants to live in her home, we’re going to make it possible.
While you have indulged me with a personal story, that is the history of so many Black women with their families. I salute all of the Black women who’ve done, and would do the same for their mothers.
Every year women in this country get a presidential proclamation honoring women. The women mentioned are generally women who’ve made the history books and have had public honors, but so often the women, like my mother, and their caretakers who are just ordinary women who’ve often done extraordinary things to nurture their families and the families of many in their areas, but they never get any special recognition.
I know that we have Dr. Katherine Johnson of “Hidden Figures” fame; Ida B. Wells-Barnett, our anti-lynching crusader; Sojourner Truth, who first sued a white man successfully to get her son back; Rosa Parks, who sat on a bus for our rights; Harriet Tubman, who brought a lot of our people from slavery to freedom; Fannie Lou Hamer, who took beatings to gain our right to vote; and others too numerous to name, but for this Women’s History Month, let us vow to honor our own mothers who may not be in a history book, but whose greatness comes from what they’ve done for their families and their communities without fanfare and deserve to have their own children honor them.
Williams is national president of the National Congress of Black Women.