Sometime in the late 1980s, a young girl was on a class trip walking Boston’s famed Freedom Trail. The girl, perhaps influenced by her mother’s feminist persuasion and observant of the personalities described on the Trail, asked, “Where are the women?”
Indeed, where were the women? They were right there in front of our faces. Inspired by the child’s question, a group of Boston Public School teachers, librarians, and other educators constructed a list of hundreds of women with Boston roots or connections who had made contributions to society by virtue of their careers or volunteer work but had never been recognized. Thus was the genesis of the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.
Women’s lives and achievements have enriched the history of Boston for almost four centuries, yet the significance of their stories is often overlooked. Patriots, intellectuals, abolitionists, suffragists, artists, and writers – Boston women have always played an integral role in shaping history.
The Boston Women’s Heritage Trail tells some of these diverse and remarkable stories, and forever weaves Boston women back into the fabric of the “city upon a hill.”
Linda Stern, Secretary, BWHT
A spirited crowd of people gathered at the Swan Boats (a woman-owned business since 1878) to celebrate women’s equality day on Aug. 23, 2018. A beautiful breezy summer day, the celebration was held close to the 98th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote. It was an occasion to look to the past for inspiration while reflecting on the challenges that women are still combating.
Fredie D. Kay, the president of Women’s Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Massachusetts, a coalition of more than 60 organizations, opened the program while the swan boats (with the swans sporting the purple, gold, and white sashes of the suffrage movement), floated by in the back-ground.
Fredie Kay introduced Tania Del Rio, the new executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement, who spoke about the important history and the current challenges. She said to be sure to ‘remember the ladies’ and register to vote. Then she enumerated today’s issues: “Voter suppression is a thing of the present. Misogyny is a thing of the present. Harassment and objectification of women is a thing of the present. Violence against women is a thing of the present.”
Barbara Berenson, author of the recently-released book Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers, spoke of the leadership and powerful oratory of Lucy Stone who came from Massachusetts. She founded the American Woman Suffrage Association, an organization that tirelessly fought to expand the right to vote for many excluded groups. The 200th anniversary of Lucy Stone’s birth was marked on August 13.
Next there was a reenactment of Lucy Stone’s speeches by Judith Kalaora (of History at Play) and Stone’s words rang out across the Public Garden.
Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, the executive director of MassVOTE, then spoke of issues of women of color, stressing “we must learn how to transcend all isms, schisms, & labels that would divide us as a movement. We are stronger together.”
Steve Kenney, Director of Commonwealth Museum at Columbia Point, spoke about the exhibit depicting local suffragists whose lives are recounted and whose fiery words are remembered. The Lucy Stone panel was unveiled at the Swan Boat event.
BPS Teacher Summer Institute
We are very excited that Cheryl Brown Greene represented BWHT at the BPS Teacher Summer Institute on August 22nd. The BWHT is a result of research and discussions done by a group of Boston Public School teachers,librarians, and other educators in the late 1980s .It is important to us to maintain a connection to the BPS.