One of CDAR's Strategic Goals for 2015 is Diversity, and in that spirit we celebrate Women's History Month.In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women. 2015 is the National Women’s History Project’s 35th Anniversary. In celebration of this landmark anniversary, they have chosen nine women as 2015 Honorees who have contributed in very special ways to the work of “writing women back into history.”
This Week: Holly Near, Vicki L. Ruiz and Darlene Clark Hine (Biography excerpts and Photos courtesy of National Women's History Project)
Holly Near - Singer, Songwriter and Social Activist (1949-Present)
Holly Near has inspired generations with music that chronicles progressive activism of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. During the war against Indochina Holly began to write songs based on historic and current events that were challenging progressives in the United States. She wrote about the killings at Kent and Jackson State, the struggles of The United Farm Workers and the frightening consequences of nuclear war. Her work with women in the military as well as women in countries occupied by the US military led Near to rethink the role of women in the world and the policy that challenges women in a very particular way. Near began to write songs specifically about women’s lives both in a global and personal context.
Near’s unusual contribution historically placed in the post sixties era of feminist activism crystallized her iconic status. Her genuine performance style, powerful voice and inspirational lyrics identify her as a unique contributor to women’s history as well as a remarkable vocalist and entertainer.
Vicki L. Ruiz - Educator and Pioneer in Latina History (1955-Present)
The first in her family to receive any advanced degree, Vicki L. Ruiz earned a Ph.D in History at Stanford in June 1982. Two months later she showed up for her first teaching position with a baby on her hip and another on the way. Over the course of three decades, Ruiz has been a major force in shaping the field of Chicana history.
Over the course of three decades, Dr. Ruiz has published over fifty essays and one dozen books including Cannery Women, Cannery Lives and From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth- Century America. Her edited or co-edited collections include Unequal Sisters: An Inclusive Reader in U.S. Women’s History and the three-volume, Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. Dedicated to the people whose lives she writes back into history, Ruiz, explains: “As a historian, I have had the privilege of interviewing people whose quiet courage made a difference in their lives and in their communities.”
A committed educator, Dr. Ruiz contributed to numerous public history projects, including documentaries, museum exhibits, oral history programs, high school workshops, and teacher seminars. She is currently President-elect of the American Historical Association.
Darlene Clark Hine - Historian and Educator (1947 - Present)
As an historian Darlene Clark Hine sought not only to explore African American history, but to expand the discipline of history itself by focusing on black women “who remained at the very bottom of the ladder in the United States.” A leading expert on the subject of race, class, and gender in American society, Hine is credited with helping to establish a doctoral field in Comparative Black History at Michigan State University.
“Historians can write a history of anything or anyone,” Hine is quoted as saying, “but apparently few considered black women worth the telling.” Hine herself had to be persuaded to explore the lives of African American women in Indiana, but soon became convinced that US history was leaving out far too much that was important to nurture a comprehensive understanding of American society. Thus her preliminary research on women’s roles in churches, and other settings led to brief monograph, When the Truth Is Told: Black Women’s Community and Culture in Indiana, 1875-1950 (1980).
“If I can…impress upon the historical profession” she once insisted, “how important it is to talk to and illuminate the lives of people who did not leave written records, but who also influenced generations of women all over the globe, then I will feel that my career is worthwhile.”