In celebration of Women’s History Month, students and faculty gathered outside Carlyle Campbell Library to read speeches and poems from influential women. The Department of History, Political Science, and International Studies sponsored the Speak Out! event which was held on Friday, March 16, 2018.
After the success of the first Speak Out! event celebrating Black History Month, a second event was held honoring the works of women throughout different times and cultures. Angela Robbins, assistant professor of history, explained that the pieces chosen were published with the purpose of swaying hearts and minds.
“We asked students to choose something that was meaningful to them, perhaps by a speaker they particularly admired, and we brought some texts for students to choose from if they didn't have time to plan ahead,” Robbins said.
An audience of nearly 40 stood together as students and faculty participating in the event introduced and explained their choices of reading before presenting influential pieces written by women throughout history. These readings included works by Susan B. Anthony, Mary Wollstonecraft, Barbara Jordan, and Madonna. International women’s works were also heavily featured to emphasize the strength of women globally.
“I loved the opportunity to be part of this event and to hear what women have written,” says Dominique Bateman, ’19. “It gives the opportunity to hear their voices all these years later. That’s really important.”
Sarah Roth, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, participated in the event. She read “The Times that Try Men’s Souls” written by Maria Weston Chapman in 1837. The poem focused on the growing power of women during her time and how they would no longer simply “[obey] the will of their lords” but use their own reasoning and minds.
Students who participated in this event chose pieces that they particularly admired or thought were important for modern women to hear.
Robbins, who organized the event with Daniel Fountain, associate professor of history, says that having the Meredith Community come together for such an event shows its importance.
“Sharing this experience together reminds us that we have a long history in which many people in the U.S. and around the world have been marginalized and have had to fight for the rights we hold so dear,” said Robbins “We still have a lot of work to do. For women, in particular, connecting with this history helps us better understand and articulate our current struggle in the national conversation about issues of equity, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.”