Thursday, March 20, 2014

4,000 years of Uppity Women

Vicki León is the author of a series of inspiring books about "Uppity Women" through the ages. Engaging and humorous, as well as enlightening, the series has sold over 350,000 copies. All of the books are based on her meticulous research, yet it seems so very wrong to call them "HIS-torical."

Her newest book, 4000 Years of Uppity Women, is a rollicking, 238-page compendium (which) contains the true tales of irrepressible women of long ago who broke all kinds of barriers. They invented. They created. They cured. They ran cities and businesses, bankrolled charities and religions. Some defied racism to become activists. Some defied society to become pirates. Chosen from the best and boldest female achievers in her four-book Uppity Women series, time-traveling author Vicki León takes you from ancient Egypt, Asia, and Europe through medieval and Renaissance times, then surveys gals in the Old and New Worlds from the colonial era through the late 1800s.

Renaissance Faire founder, Phyllis Patterson, says "The Uppity Women books have a grand sense of history -- and a grand sense of humor."

And author, Riane Eisler, who coined the term, "dominator culture," and is known for her exploration of the partnership versus domination models,   notes that Vicki "brings women to life in ways that make us understand their great courage and ingenuity in a time when male dominance and barbarity were the order of the day." 


Shared with permission of   - you can read the full interview with Vicki Leon on opednews.

4000 Years of Uppity Women is available at Barnes & Noble.

Vicki Leon's website is here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Women's history month

How beautiful it is to be a woman! This month marks Women's History month and as I think of all the selfless contributions women have made since the beginning of time, it really brings so much joy to my very being. I wrote a piece about a year or so ago about the strength that we possess as women; there is an undying spark within our hearts that refuses to go out no matter what. I think of Frida Kahlo, whose body became broken but her spirit would not falter; she continued to create her mystical art, even from her bedside. I think of Biddy Mason, an African American midwife, who refused to allow slavery keep her from living her life and moved to California to purchase property and be free.

We have fought our way to the top and continue to do so. "I have a theory, but actually in my eyes, it's a fact and that is women are among the most strongest beings on Earth!" How is it that we can be at our weakest point yet still have strength to carry on? We were meant to be strong, that is why. We are continuing to write our stories and telling the stories of women from the past, paving the way for our girls to become just as strong, if not stronger. Each year, Women's history month will be celebrated and embraced for what it is by more people. Our contributions can no longer be pushed to the side, they are meant to be celebrated each and every day, for each day some woman somewhere contributes her own special gifts to this world and they will be recorded in Her(story)!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Canada: Silencing of leading Feminist Historian on International Women's Day

The Canadian president of a major international women’s history organization condemns the effort to silence Canada’s leading women’s historian for telling us why it is important to remember International Women’s Day, why women’s rights are human rights that must still be fought for, and, oh yes, why we have the right to criticize our governments for not supporting women’s rights. And, as Franca Iacovetta says, to think that all this took place on the blog of a human rights museum getting ready to open its doors to the public is all the more disappointing.

Read more here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Barbara Rose Johns

Every child in America should know the name of Barbara Rose Johns, because her actions helped to ensure that every American child gets the education she/he deserves.  In 1951, Barbara was a 16-year-old student at Robert Russa Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Virginia, an all-black school with deplorable conditions—the school itself was badly in need of repair, the equipment was shabby, there was no gymnasium or science lab, and more than 400 students were crammed into a building meant for 150. Trying to learn in that environment became so frustrating for Barbara that she spoke to a teacher.  When the teacher dismissively told her to “do something about it,” Barbara was discouraged at first, and then began to formulate a plan that would eventually lead hers to become one of the five cases in Brown v. Board of Education.

On April 23, 1951, Barbara led a student strike against the substandard conditions at her school—she rallied her fellow students with an impassioned speech and her belief that they could draw attention to their plight and create change, and they followed her out of the school.  By May 3, Barbara was standing at the podium of the First Baptist Church in Farmville, speaking to a crowd of over 1,000 that included students, parents, and two lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  The lawyers, Oliver W. Hill and Spotswood Robinson III, filed a lawsuit against Prince Edward County stating that segregation was unconstitutional. This case was known as Davis v. Prince Edward because ninth-grader Dorothy E. Davis was the first named plaintiff in the list of 117 students.  Davis eventually became one of the cases in Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case in which the Supreme Court declared that segregation is unconstitutional, and all children have a right to a decent education in a decent school.

But Barbara’s story doesn’t end there. Heroines are heroines not just because they do the extraordinary, but because they bear the cost of doing the extraordinary.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, Prince Edward County and the State of Virginia fought integration.  Virginia passed a series of laws allowing schools not to integrate—these laws were struck down in 1959.  Still, Prince Edward didn’t comply.  Rather than integrate, the county closed its schools and opened an all-white private school.  This situation continued for five years, until 1964.  In such an environment of stubborn, vicious racism, you can imagine what Barbara’s life must have been like.  She was harassed, and a cross was burned on her lawn.  Eventually, she moved to Alabama to live with relatives.
In her essay “Looking to the Side and Back,” Alice Walker discusses the life of a girl like Barbara who paid the price of courage:

“I knew a young girl who ‘desegregated’ the local white high school in her small town.  No one, except her teachers, spoke to her for four years…This girl suffered acute anxiety, so that when she dragged herself home from school every day, she went to bed, and stayed there until the next morning, when she walked off, ramrod straight, to school.  Even her parents talked only about the bravery, never about the cost.”
I don’t know if Ms. Walker is referring to Barbara Johns, but she could be. Or she could be discussing another unsung heroine of the Civil Rights movement, another brave girl who changed history but is rarely discussed in history classes.

As we remember and celebrate Barbara, it is important to recognize that her courage included sacrifice.  I live in Farmville, in Prince Edward county, where the Robert Russa Moton High School is now the Robert Russa Moton Museum, recently named a top six Virginia destination for its important place in our nation’s history.  That history is still here, alive and with us.  Things are better, but we still have work to do—you can feel it in the air, our need to heal.  I believe we are healing, and will continue to do so.  And I believe Barbara’s courage and sacrifice can continue to show us the way.

Note:  You can learn more about Barbara’s life in Teri Kanefield’s recently released biography, The Girl from the Tar Paper School.  The book is described in a recent article in the Farmville Herald, which provided some of the facts in this profile.  I also drew on the Moton Museum’s biography of Barbara and her profile on

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to do a HERstory Project with your daughter

Creating a HERstory project with your daughter is simple.  It will create lasting memories that will make an enormous difference in both your lives. And, it is something you can do over and over again!

Here are some suggested steps.  You can make your project as simple or elaborate as you want.

Step 1:

Pick out a book.  There are many more resources available today than ever before.  The Amelia Bloomer Project publishes a yearly list of feminist books for girls. You can find age-appropriate books on Harriet TubmanMalala YousafzaiSusan B. AnthonySally Ride and many other women!

There are also anthologies available, such as Girls Who Rocked the World - that are filled with about 50 different women.

Step 2: Chose a She-roe.

It may take a few books to find a woman your daughter identifies with.  If you are still reading together, wait to see the light shine in her eyes - or for her to keep asking questions and say, "WOW!!"

Step 3: Allow your daughter to interpret her She-roe

Depending on your daughter's age and reading level, allow her to either draw a picture of what she read about, write a short paragraph, or read several books and compose her own essay about the woman.

Step 4: Share!!

Hang up the original artwork somewhere prominent in your home so your daughter can share it with guests.

Scan her essay or picture and  share it via email or social media with friends and family members.

And please, send it to us too so we can publish her work. Our goal is to have submissions from girls as young as 5 from all over the world!  You can send your contribution to HERstory to

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Women's History Month

It's Women's History Month - and we want to hear from you!

Who inspires you?
Which women are you telling your daughters and granddaughters about?