Women’s History Month
What is Women’s History Month?
March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize, celebrate, honor and encourage the study of the contributions and achievements of women throughout history and all over the world. LA County Library is doing its part to celebrate with live virtual programming, booklists, and digital resources for all ages.
How did Women’s History Month come into being?
At first, this celebration of women’s history was only a week-long program, and it occurred in March 1978 in Sonoma County, California. Many people observed the program’s success, and other communities across the country initiated their own Women’s History Week.
The National Women’s History Project, now known as the National Women’s History Alliance, and other likeminded organizations successfully lobbied the federal government for national recognition of Women’s History Week in 1980.
In February of that year, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week (March 8 is International Women’s History Day).
Years later, President Ronald Reagan passed further proclamations announcing Women’s History Weeks. However, by then some areas had already extended their celebrations to a whole month. The Women’s National History Project lobbied for a longer observation, and Congress passed a proclamation in 1987 establishing Women’s History Month.
What is LA County Library doing to celebrate Women’s History Month?
LA County Library is highlighting incredible women in history and their amazing, but sometimes unknown, contributions to their communities and the world. We’ll be celebrating all month with virtual programs for all ages, and you’re invited!
On Tuesday, March 7 at Quartz Hill Library, learn about 20th century artist Alma Woodsey Thomas who created her paintings, which she called “Alma’s stripes,” with rectangular blocks of color. On Saturday, March 18 at La Mirada Library, author Herbie J. Pilato will be discussing women in classic TV with actors Caryn Richman and Eric Scott. On Wednesday, March 29 at Lake Los Angeles Library, we’ll challenge kids aged 5-12 to think like a zoologist (or paleontologist), as we learn about remarkable women scientists and then combine puzzle pieces to create a fun animal or dinosaur!
And these are just a small sample of events we’re holding around LA County during Women’s History Month. Please see below for more details and registration info for these and other great virtual events at your LA County Library location.
Wilma Pearl Mankiller
Highlighted by our American Indian Resource Center
Her family moved to San Francisco in 1956 because of the highly criticized Urban Indian Relocation program, a federal program that encouraged American Indians who lived in rural areas and on reservations to leave for bigger cities to assimilate to mainstream American culture. The results of this program led to some termination of protected status for Indian lands and some termination of government support to certain tribes.
During college Mankiller became part of the Red Power movement which strove for Native American self-determination. Mankiller and other activists occupied Alcatraz Island’s abandoned federal prison on November 20, 1969. The occupation of Alcatraz lasted 19 months and was a major factor in bringing awareness to Native issues and played a significant role in changing federal policies affecting American Indians. Mankiller also helped the Pit River Tribe in California exercise their tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, reclaiming millions of acres of ancestral lands in a legal battle against Pacific Gas and Electric.
Mankiller continued her activism when she moved back to Oklahoma. Her social work improved water and housing accessibility, health clinics, head starts, and created jobs in the Cherokee Nation. As the first female elected Deputy Chief in 1983 and then becoming the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985-1995, she helped pave the path for female leadership in the United States even as she faced heavy sexism. She was significant in cultural revitalization and sovereignty for the Cherokee Nation and highly respected in and out of the Native community. In 1998, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mankiller died from pancreatic cancer on April 6, 2010. She was honored on the 2022 Quarter with her likeness and inscription of “Principal Chief” and the Cherokee Nation written in the Cherokee syllabary.
Mankiller: A Chief and her People
Mankiller Poems (ebook)
Wilma Mankiller (Juvenile)
Biography from Oklahoma Historical Society
Biography (Biography in Context)
Biography (Gale EBooks)
Wilma Mankiller Quarter
Mankiller: Activist, Feminist, Cherokee Chief
Highlighted by our Chicano Resource Center
Selena helped redefine and popularize the musical styles of Tejano, Cumbia and Latin Pop. She especially helped open doors for women in the male dominated Tejano music genre. In 1987, she was the first woman to win “Performer of the Year” at the Tejano Music Awards. She would also win a Grammy for Best Mexican-American album which helped to further introduce her music to crossover audiences. Through this success, Selena became a bridge to help bring divergent communities together. She introduced many to musical styles they may not have known or enjoyed in the past, and This has made her a beloved cultural Icon and inspiration to many.
Her contribution is made more remarkable in that it came through the talents of a woman whom we lost age of 23. She was born in Lake Jackson Texas on April 16, 1971. She began singing with her family at an early age. By her teens she was recording chart topping Tejano music. During her lifetime, she also designed and manufactured her own line of clothing and prior to her death, was also working on a perfume line. Against her family’s wishes she married guitarist Chris Perez. Tragically, on March 31, 1995, Selena was murdered by the former president of her fan club Yolanda Saldívar. However, not before she earned the title Queen of Tejano Music, was named the third greatest Latino artist of all time by Billboard magazine and above all brought diverse cultures together through her music.
To Selena with Love by Chris Perez
Selena’s Secret: the revealing story behind her tragic death by Maria Celeste Arrarás
Tejano proud : Tex-Mex music in the twentieth century by Guadalupe San Miguel
Selena : su vida después de su Muerte by Cristina Castrellón (Spanish)
Selena : Queen of Tejano music by Silvia Lopez
Sing with me: the story of Selena Quintanilla by Diana López
Selena by Barbara Marvis
¿Quién fue Selena? By Kate Bisantz (Spanish)
Hoopla = Search Selena
Dreaming of You
Corpus: A Home Movie about Selena
Selena by Moctesuma Esparza
Grace Lee Boggs
Highlighted by our Asian Pacific Resource Center
Boggs was born in 1915 to two Chinese immigrants in Providence, RI. She attended Barnard College as a scholarship student and went on to earn a doctorate in philosophy in 1940 from Bryn Mawr. Boggs struggled to find work after graduating, being turned away from numerous jobs as an Asian American woman. She eventually found a low-paying position with the University of Chicago’s philosophy library. Being paid a paltry salary of $10 per week, Boggs was forced to find free housing in a rat-filled basement. Fighting for housing improvements was Boggs’s entry point into the world of activism, as well as the beginning of her social justice work with BIPOC communities. She began marching and fighting for housing rights, then supported causes for women and people of color while discovering her own political ideology.
In 1953 Boggs moved to Detroit, which proved pivotal in her political, intellectual, and personal development. There she found passionate like-minded peers including her partner in activism and husband James Boggs, a Black autoworker and community organizer. The couple became two of the city’s most noted activists, tackling issues related to labor and civil rights, feminism, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the environment. She and James befriended and collaborated with many luminaries from the Black Power movement including Malcolm X, Angela Davis, and C. L. R. James.
In 1992 the Boggs founded Detroit Summer a multi-cultural and intergenerational collective with the goal to empower youth and improve their communities. After her husband’s passing in 1993, Grace Lee Boggs did not slow down and continued to fight for change in Detroit. In 1995 she turned the second floor of her home into the Boggs Center, a space for grassroots organizing and social activism. She later founded the James and Grace Lee Boggs School in 2013. Educating children from grades K-8, “[t]he mission of the Boggs School is to nurture creative, critical thinkers who contribute to the well-being of their communities.” In 2015 Grace Lee Boggs passed away at the age of 100, leaving a legacy as a grassroots activist, philosopher, and author. Her death was commemorated by then President Barack Obama, who stated: “As the child of Chinese immigrants and as a woman, Grace learned early on that the world needed changing, and she overcame barriers to do just that. She understood the power of community organizing at its core – the importance of bringing about change and getting people involved to shape their own destiny.”
Living for Change: An Autobiography By Grace Lee Boggs
In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs By Stephen M. Ward
Books for Youth
Grace Lee Boggs By Virginia Loh-Hagan
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs By Grace Lee
The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center
“Grace Lee Boggs, Human Rights Advocate for 7 Decades, Dies at 100.” New York Times
“Grace Lee and James Boggs Embodied Black-Asian Solidarity.” #StopAsianHate Medium
“The Revolutionary Task of Self-Activity: A Note on Grace Lee Boggs.” Viewpoint Magazine
“Remembering Grace Lee Boggs and Her Role in the Black Freedom Struggle.” Dissent Magazine.
“Social Activist Grace Lee Boggs on Shaking Up the Status Quo in America.” Bill Moyers. (video)
“Kids Tell the Herstory of Grace Lee Boggs, Detroit Activist.” Radical Cram School. (video)
Highlighted by our Black Resource Center
I felt inspired by these women because my teacher taught us about them in so much detail. I couldn’t get up.” For defying the segregation law, Claudette Colvin was arrested by two police officers, handcuffed and taken to adult jail. She was 15 years old. This occurred nine months before Rosa Parks sparked the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott with the same act of civil disobedience.
Claudette Colvin was one of the four plaintiffs in the first federal court case that challenged the bus segregation law in Montgomery. On November 13th, 1956, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that “the enforced segregation of black and white passengers on motor buses operating in the City of Montgomery violates the Constitution and laws of the United States” and ended bus segregation in Alabama. For many decades, Claudette Colvin’s act of courage was not publicized by the black leaders of the Civil Rights movement, in favor of Rosa Parks’ more professional image and background. When Claudette Colvin moved to New York to become a nurse, she did not tell many people about the part she played in the Civil Rights Movement. In recent years, Claudette Colvin has been recognized as the first to challenge the bus segregation law, and her story has been published and shared widely in “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” by Phillip Hoose, winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2009.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
Because Claudette by Tracey Baptiste
Justice rising : 12 amazing Black women in the Civil Rights Movement by Katheryn Russell-Brown
Unsung heroes of social justice by Todd Kortemeier
Righteous troublemakers: untold stories of social justice movment in America by Al Sharpton
Illustrated Black History: honoring the iconic and the unseen by George McCalman
PBS: They Dared! Claudette Colvin
NPR: Before Rosa Parks, There was Claudette Colvin
BBC News: Claudette Colvin: The 15-year-old who came before Rosa Parks
Work Ready: ART of Conquering Fear With Christy Demetrakis
Work Ready: Women Entrepreneurs Speak
Notable Black & African Americans in STEAM: Dr. Patricia Bath
Notable Black & African Americans in STEAM: Dr. Marie Maynard Daly
Notable Black & African Americans in STEAM: Bessie Blount Griffin
Notable Black & African Americans in STEAM: Gwendolyn Brooks
OverDrive Women’s Studies (eBooks and Audiobooks)
Kanopy Women & Society (Movies)
Kanopy Movies Directed by Women (Movies)
Hoopla Women’s Fiction (Audiobooks)
Fighter: A Women’s History Month Freegal Playlist (Music)