Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Proposed: American Women’s History Initiative – “Because of Her Story”

Audre Lorde (left) with writers Meridel Le Sueur (middle) and Adrienne Rich (right) at a writing workshop in Austin, Texas, 1980 courtesy of K. Kendall under CC BY 2.0

“Women are powerful and dangerous.” Audre Lorde



Earlier this month, February 11th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 1980. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), calls for the creation of a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum and includes cost-sharing language that is consistent with that used for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture—a 50/50 split of federal and private funds for the development and construction of a new museum. The bill must now pass through the Senate and then be signed by the President.

“With full support from Congress, the Smithsonian has proven adept at creating museums that paint a more comprehensive picture of the American experience,” said Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “We remain committed to that goal, and we look forward to working with Congress and supporters nationwide to illuminate the profound impact women have had on the American story.”

The Smithsonian is committed to recognizing and celebrating the stories of all Americans. If the legislation is enacted into law, the Smithsonian will use its resources and expertise to create a world-class museum dedicated to telling the stories of women’s contributions throughout American history



“A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done.” – Marge Piercy



Amy Lowell circa 1916

“Poets are always the advance guard of literature, the advance guard of life. It is for this reason that their recognition comes so slowly.” Amy Lowell



American Women’s History Initiative:

“BECAUSE OF HER STORY”

.In the meantime, the Smithsonian has used funds appropriated by Congress ($4 million) and privately raised funds to begin a robust program of exhibitions, public programs and research focusing on women’s contributions to American history. In 2018, the Smithsonian officially launched the American Women’s History Initiative—“Because of Her Story”—to document, research, collect and exhibit the stories of women who have helped shape America.

“The initiative strives to be the nation’s most comprehensive undertaking to document, research, collect, display and share the rich, complete and compelling story of women in America. It will greatly increase the Smithsonian’s research and programming related to women in the U.S., past and present.”

To date the initiative has:

  • Raised nearly $10 million toward the development of exhibitions, programs, educational material and digital content across the Smithsonian
  • Hired four curators dedicated to women’s history, with five more curatorial positions pending
  • Mentored 13 paid interns through the Because of Her Story Internship Program
  • Published Smithsonian American Women, a book that offers a unique, panoramic look at women’s history through objects from the Smithsonian’s collections

This post is complied courtesy of the Smithsonian, The U.S. Library of Congress, Amazon, and my bookshelf. 


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Thank you and Apologies, News and Updates; the sacred teachers, a poem

“It’s easier to die than to move … at least for the Other Side you don’t need trunks.” Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose



Thanks for your patience.  My apologies for not coming through with the February 5 Wednesday Writing Prompt. Challenging times. I am preparing the prompt for this coming Wednesday now, to insure that it is done.

Courtesy of Erda Estrmera, Unsplash

I’ve successfully moved out of the old tiny studio and into – though not settled (still unpacking!) – a lovely one-bedroom apartment adapted for handicapped access and aging in place and with plenty of room for all my medical equipment. It was a rough move that I could never have accomplished without the help and support of the CitySon Philosopher, my friends, and the management, office, and maintenance teams here at the Casa. I’ve had days without WiFi and days of physical pain, fatigue and oxygen hunger that have prohibited anything but getting through the minutes and hours.  I appear to be on the mend now though and my WiFi is working. I’m not sure I’ll be fully productive yet, but I’ll get some things done. Thanks for hanging in with me and for the many emails and Facebook messages expressing concern and wishing well. I haven’t been able to keep up with Facebook and email either, but I’ll get to both as I can.

Much appreciation to The BeZine Contributing Editor Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) / Play). Michael kept things going at the Zine while I have been offline and out-of-action. If you’ve been following, you know we’ve dedicated February to posts on illness and disability. Thanks also to Kella Hanna-Wayne, Zine team member, founder of the social justice site YOPP!, and partner in this month-long effort, and to all the contributors who helped to keep this event going with their essays and poetry.

The Zine is still open for submissions for February blog posts on illness and disability and for submissions to the next edition, the March 15 issue of The BeZine, themed Waging Peace. Submissions for Waging Peace close on March 10. Email bardogroup@gmail.com



Mbizo Chirasha

Our efforts on behalf of Mbizo Chirasha, Zimbabwean poet in exile, continue and hope for safe harbor thrives.  If you know anyone who would be able to host Mbizo in Germany or elsewhere, please connect with me by email thepoetbyday@gmail.com



out of the threads of your sacred languages
out of the spare sculpture of your homely wisdom
we formed clubs and built ironclad dictates
we spawned conspiracies of hate –
now we are goose barnacles clinging to the rotting flotsam of old boats,
we are weighted with the dust of fear and the mold of suspicion

though we bluster and grandstand our way through time,
the original purity of your intentions is still rooted in Eternity,
your guileless simplicity is stronger than the dogs of war,
it is the calm light at the center of our frenzied dark
it is the grace of rain after a drought,
the rivers of compassion that flow as tears

sometimes we hear your spirits whispering
in the mindful pleasure of our morning tea
in the rhythmic stirring of a pot of oatmeal
or in a fresh dawning after a tide has turned
and the wind of rectitude has cleared the air

© 2017, Jamie Dedes


Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

“If right’s what matters, what is right?” … from Meg, curator of “Resistance Poetry”

Photo courtesy of Ken Kistler, Public Domain Pictures.net

“My team decided that the only way to attempt to defend this monstrous approach [Stalin’s] to state-building was to reject everything our opponent team would hold dear: all concepts of democracy, the value of the individual, the moral responsibility of leadership.” MORE



Meg, a poet and the esteemed founder and curator of Resistance Poetry, a publication on Medium, has posted a profoundly important collection, absolutely worth your time. However, at the very least, please take a moment to read her short but sharply pointed intro to the collection HERE.



Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

The “American Dirt” Controversy

“The fact that we [Flatiron Publishing] were surprised is indicative of a problem, which is that in positioning this novel, we failed to acknowledge our own limits. The discussion around this book has exposed deep inadequacies in how we at Flatiron Books address issues of representation, both in the books we publish and in the teams that work on them. We are committed to finding new ways to address these issues and the specific publishing choices underlying this publication, and feel an obligation to our colleagues, readers, and authors alike. On a more specific scale we made serious mistakes in the way we rolled out this book. We should never have claimed that it was a novel that defined the migrant experience; we should not have said that Jeanine’s husband was an undocumented immigrant while not specifying that he was from Ireland; we should not have had a centerpiece at our bookseller dinner last May that replicated the book jacket so tastelessly. We can now see how insensitive those and other decisions were, and we regret them.” Statement from Bob Miller (MORE), President & Publisher, Flatiron Books

I have not read American Dirt and given the constraints on my time right now, it’s not on my to-read list. I have, however, been following the controversy around the book’s publication.  It is certainly inflamed – including the counterproductive threat of violence to author and booksellers – but if the discussion fosters awareness, diversity and equity in publishing, that would be very good indeed.  I think the criticisms are legitimate but I’m not sure we can lay them entirely at the feet of the author, although clearly she was complicit in the publisher’s deceptions.  Having said that, like Jeanine Cummins, all any of us can do is to write what we feel compelled to write. As readers we vote with our dollars and our library borrows.

Following news that Flatiron Publishers cancelled the remainder of the American Dirt book tour, PEN America issued the following reasoned statement:

“We have been closely following the debate concerning American Dirt, which implicates concerns at the heart of PEN America’s mission. Our organization has long been committed to the vital work of amplifying lesser-heard voices, and we are staunch advocates of increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in publishing. In our public programming, we strive to present the broadest array of writers from across the country and around the world. We have dedicated programs focused on fostering writing among individuals who are incarcerated, undocumented immigrant youth, and others who might be locked out of the literary community due to resources, background, or other factors. And we have engaged deeply over the last two years in combating online harassment, and recognize its particular silencing impact on women writers and writers of color.

“As writers, we believe in the necessity of reasoned discourse across differences. The breadth of passionate perspectives unleashed by this controversy has sparked an overdue public conversation. We urge that this dialogue unfold in the realm of ideas and opinions, and avoid descending into either ad hominem attacks or caricature. As defenders of freedom of expression, we categorically reject rigid rules about who has the right to tell which stories. We see no contradiction between that position and the need for the publishing industry to urgently address its own chronic shortcomings. If the fury over this book can catalyze concrete change in how books are sourced, edited, and promoted, it will have achieved something important. It is past time to equip, resource, and elevate a wider group of voices to speak for themselves and about their experiences. As a nearly 100-year-old organization, we have our own historic legacies, blind spots, and challenges to reckon with. We look at this debate through the lens of how we can continue to evolve to better fulfill our mission.

“Finally, we reject all threats of violence, as well as vitriol aimed to shut down discussion and enforce silence. In our digital discourse, harsh invective too easily gives way to threats and intimidation that have a chilling effect not only on their targets, but on entire topics or points of view. We believe such approaches impair, rather than advance, what is an urgent and essential debate.”

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

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Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton