To Celebrate Women of Courage and Vision

By Woody Henderson

The theme for National Women's History Month, March 2001 is "Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision," so when I was asked to write an article celebrating black women, I thought to myself, this would be easy. There is so much to celebrate in black women from Harriet Tubman to Susan Taylor. Black women have contribute and done so much to raise and liberate our people.

I asked myself, where should I begin? Of course, I'll begin in churches, You only have to walk through the sanctuary of one of the many churches across this country to understand why I'd begin there. Take a church such as Cannan Baptist Church on 116 street in Harlem, USA where the Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker is senior pastor. There, on any given Sunday you can't help but notice an abundance of women, who come from every corner of our community, from professors of great universities to clerks in local super markets, from housewives to lawyers and officers of major corporations, to find women worthy of being celebrated. They volunteer in homeless shelters, clothing drives, senior citizen homes, and soup kitchens, they even find time to visit inmates in prisons and the sick and shut-in while all working in concert, lifting up the spirit of the Lord God almighty.

Maybe I should write about the pastor's wife, Ms Ann Walker, and tell of all she has endured in raising a family, while standing beside and behind Rev. Walker as he helped to shape the civil rights movement and keep the light on apartheid until Mandela walked to freedom. I wondered how many times in the privacy of his own mind had he sung "you are the wind beneath my wings," when thinking of "his Bride" as he so often affectionately calls her. Or I could write about Deaconess Cooper the wife of the chairman emeritus of the official board of that great church and speak of the love and hard work she has shown, not only to Deacon Cooper and the church family, but also to the greater community as a whole.

I think about Kathy Gibson who sacrificed her own dreams and took on the role of kinship parent, raising her little ones as if she had given birth to them. Yet, she found the time and where with all to form the "Grandparents Advocacy Project Inc.," while always presenting herself as the African Queen she truly is. Or I could write about Grammy, and multi award winner, Micki Grant, who wrote such plays as "Your Arms Too Short To Box With God" and "Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope."

I could tell of her humbleness and her endless and inspiring contributions to the world of theater and song.. Then I thought about all the unsung-heroines, women and mothers that bring their children to rehearsals on Saturdays and church on Sundays. Surely, mother's raising children is reason enough to celebrate women; but women have always done that without any fanfare. I think of my own mother, who raised eight children on sixty-one dollars a week and we never went hungry.

Women contribute so much to society on so many different levels from the time we enter this world until the time we go out. So many great women came to my mind that I wanted to write about and celebrate, some know and others unknown.

Then, I thought about black men. I began to wonder why do we on a whole show so little respect for black women, if not directly indirectly by supporting music or associating with others who use derogatory words and phrases when referring to women both individually and collectively. How can we except this after all they've endured just to keep bread on the table or put shoes on a child's feet, but that's a subject for another day?

I finally came to the conclusion that this assignment is not so easy after all. You could write forever and never write or say enough to honor or celebrate women; all you can really do is thank God for them and try and show them the respect they truly deserve.


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