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Women's History Month

March is the month when we take the time to look back and honor the many achievements of women throughout history and the vast strides made by women today. Keep reading to learn more!

How did it start? 

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women's History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

Subsequent Presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

phoebe hearst

                                                                                                        

Phoebe Elizabeth Apperson Hearst was born on December 3, 1842 in St. Clair, Missouri. She was a philanthropist, suffragist and feminist. Her only son, George Hurst, served as a United States Senator. During the 1880s, Ms. Hearst became a major benefactor and director of the Golden Gage Kindergarten Association as well as the first president of the Century Club of California. She utilized part of her fortune to fund the construction of a building that provided training for teachers and kindergarten classes. She made history in 1897 when she became a major benefactor of the University of California, Berkeley and the first woman to serve as the university’s Regent. In 1992, the University of California Museum of Anthropology was later renamed in her honor to the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. The museum now contains about 3.8 billion objects of which 60,000 objects were donated by Ms. Hearst.

frida kahlo

                                                                                                      

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907. She was a famous artist who is known for her beautiful art which mixed realism with fantasy. Ms. Kahlo was also the wife of artist Diego Rivera. Her art career began very early in her life but was not recognized until the 1970s. Ms. Kahlo has been recognized as an important art history figure for Chicanos, the Feminism Movement and the LGBTQ Movement. She resided in San Francisco, California with her husband for a short period of time due to his artistic projects based in the Bay Area. In 2018, Mattel created a Barbie Doll in her honor in celebration of International Women’s Day. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2018 unanimously voted to rename Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way. The street is home to Archbishop Riordan High School and City College of San Francisco.

tsuyako kitashima

                                                                                                       

Tsuyako “Sox” Kitashima was born in 1918 in the city of Hayward, California. Ms. Kitashima was an activist who dedicated her life and work to seeking reparations for Japanese American Internment by the United States Government during World War II. Her family was forced to leave their small strawberry farm along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans who were sent to relocation centers. She later became a spokesperson for the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations and fought for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, by which the American government formally apologized and granted reparations to the wartime internees. Her advocacy continued through her service on the San Francisco Commission on Aging Advisory Council. She helped create a facility for the elderly call Kimochi Home. Her life and work was guided by her devotion to the Japanese American Community. She has also been recognized by the National Women's History Project as a National Women's History Month/Week honoree.

dianne feinstein

                                                                                                  

Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein was born on June 22, 1933 in San Francisco, California. She made history in 1978 when she became the city of San Francisco’s first female president of the Board of Supervisors following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. On December 4, 1978 she succeeded Mayor Moscone becoming the first woman to serve as Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco. Ms. Feinstein currently serves as the senior United States Senator from the state of California. She is a graduate of Stanford University and resides in the Bay Area when she is serving our nation in Washington DC. In January 2025, Senator Feinstein will make history again by becoming the longest serving woman Senator in history.

belva davis

                                                                                                     

Belva Davis was born on October 13, 1932 in Monroe, Louisiana. She is a famous San Francisco Bay Area television and radio journalist. Ms. Davis made history when she became the first African American woman to become a television reporter on the West Coast. Her successful career contributed to her earning eight Emmy Awards and recognition by the American Women in Radio and Television organization. Ms. Davis was also honored by the National Association of Black Journalists for her exemplary work in the field of television/radio broadcasting. Ms. Davis grew up in West Oakland and graduated from Berkeley High School and San Francisco State University. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Her contributions to the field of broadcasting have inspired others to follow in her footsteps. 

tess uriza holthe

                                                                                                           

Tess Uriza Holthe was born in San Francisco, California in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. She is an author who is best known for her novel When the Elephants Dance. Ms. Holthe enjoyed visiting the public library and listening to the stories that her father would share about the Philippines. Ms. Holthe is a graduate of Golden Gate University and earned a degree in accounting. This talented Bay Area Native discovered her passion for writing during her last year of college. Ms. Holthe has used her passion to create novels that have entertained and captivated readers across our nation.

selena quintanilla-perez

                                                                                                       

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. Selena was a famous singer, songwriter, model, actress and fashion designer. Her musical talent contributed to her being affectionately known as the “Queen of Tejano Music.” Selena was an extremely popular singer who earned the distinction of being the top-selling Latin artist of the 1990s. Selena began to branch out from singing into the world of fashion with her clothing line. In 1994, she made history as the first female Tejano artist to win a Grammy Award. Her 1994 album Amor Prohibido became the best-selling album in the United States. Selena was also active in her community and donated her to time to engage with community organizations. Selena’s popularity continued following her tragic death. MAC cosmetics featured a celebrity line of makeup in her honor that became the best-selling celebrity collection in cosmetics history. Netflix will feature a biographical television based upon her life in 2020.

sally ride

                                                                                            

Sally Kristen Ride was born on May 26, 1951 in Encino, California. She made history in 1983 when she became the first American woman in space as well as the youngest at the age of 32. Ms. Ride is also the first LGBT astronaut. She enjoyed a successful career with NASA from 1978 to 1987. Ms. Ride was able to fly twice on the Challenger spacecraft before her departure from NASA. Her love of science influenced her to continue her work through her appointments at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control and later as a physics teacher at the University of California, San Diego. Ms. Ride was honored with several awards and honors. In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Ms. Ride into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, she was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display that celebrates LGBT history and people. In 2018, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp honoring her. In 2019, Stanford University renamed its Serra House to the Sally Ride House. Ms. Ride left our nation with a legacy of excellence in the field of science.

michelle obama

                                                                                              

Michelle La Vaughn Robinson Obama was born on January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. Mrs. Obama is an author, university administrator, lawyer, and the wife of our 44th United States President, Barack Obama. Mrs. Obama made history as the first African American First Lady. She was raised on the South Side of Chicago by a loving family. Mrs. Obama is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. As first lady, her work focused on education, physical activity and health, and poverty awareness. Her grace and style have contributed to her often being referred to as fashion icon. Mrs. Obama most recently authored a book that describes her life and work which is currently a best seller. Her contributions to the history of our nation continues today.  

patsy takemoto mink

                                                                                                     

Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink was born on December 6, 1927 in Paia, Hawaii Territory. Ms. Mink was a lawyer and politician representing the state of Hawaii. Her distinguished political career included 12 years of services in the United States House of Representatives representing Hawaii’s at-large and second congressional districts. As Representative, she successfully authored the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act. Ms. Mink made history when she became the first Asian American woman elected to Congress and the first woman elected to Congress from the state of Hawaii. In 1970, she became the first Democratic woman to deliver a State of the Union response. In 2002, Congress renamed the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act to the “Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.” President Barack Obama presented a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 24, 2014 in order to recognize her contributions to our nation.

susan b. anthony

                                                                                                 

Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts. Ms. Anthony is known worldwide as a social reformer and a women’s rights activist within the women’s suffrage movement. As early as the age of 17, Ms. Anthony committed herself to the promotion of equality by collecting anti-slavery petitions. She became the first woman to serve as the New York state agent for the Anti-Slavery Society. Ms. Anthony and her dear friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked together to bolster attention to women’s rights. The two successfully in 1863, founded the Women’s Loyal National League and in 1866 initiated the American Equal Rights Association. In 1878, Ms. Anthony and Ms. Stanton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote. It was ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920. In 1979, she was honored with a United States coin that featured her portrait. She became the first woman to have her image appear on United States coinage.