In celebration of Women’s History Month, the University of Memphis hosted Inspiring Women of the 1960s in the McWherter Library on Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Faculty and students filled the rotunda of the library as undergraduate and graduate students honored women writers, artists and activists of the 1960s by reading excerpts from speeches, letters, poems and government documents.
“We held the program in the library to encourage attendees to use our resources to further explore the topics addressed in the program,” said Jennifer Schnabel, assistant professor at the University of Memphis.
Women’s History Month began in 1987 and is now observed annually throughout the month of March as a time to celebrate the women who have inspired positive change and contributed to our history, culture and society.
The event highlighted women who were advocates for gender equality and fought exploitation such as Betty Friedan, who was a writer, activist and feminist. The event also addressed topics like the Civil Rights Movement and socioeconomic disparities.
“This event was intended to celebrate inspiring women from history as well as accomplished women of today,” Schnabel said. “It was unique because each student read work from women that inspired them.”
“Society has been dictated by men for many years,” U of M student, Arian Dabney said. “This event along with Women History Month is a way to show people that women have a part in society as well.”
The event focused on the 1960s era to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was inspired by the “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: How far have we come?” exhibition on the first and fourth floors of the library, which includes historical documents and newspaper clippings.
“If I had not attended this event, I would have never thought to look at the exhibit,” said Ashton Carnes, an English major.
The event concluded with a tribute to the late civil rights activist, Maxine Smith, who applied to the University of Memphis in 1957 and was rejected because of her race.
“It’s always good to revisit history, especially women’s history,” Carnes said. “Women are not noted enough for the things they contribute to our culture.”