Blog & News 

Letter From Lauren: Honoring Women’s History and Securing Our Future

// March 20, 2024

“Dear Ancestors, I Understood the Assignment”

Reflecting on the past, acting in the present, and writing a new future for women’s freedom

Black background with pink scribble behind text "Dear Ancestors, I understood the assignmnet"

The other day I wore a new favorite sweatshirt with the words, “Dear Ancestors… I understood the assignment.” Some might ask, “Which assignment?” My answer is the one where we must be vigilant and vociferous to ensure women’s progress is protected and gender, racial, and economic equity continue to advance. We must tell our ancestors who marched, died, created, birthed, and resisted that we understand the assignment: Freedom.

During Women’s History Month, step #1 is to recognize, celebrate, and mourn women’s history – all day, every day, of every year. We must include women of every background and identity and speak, write, share, vote, dance, and paint our history. In times where books are banned and academia curtailed to tell truth, our assignment is to be the griots or storytellers that carry the lessons of the past into the future.

Today we can see that without knowing histories of sexism, racism, patriarchy, homophobia and transphobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia, corruption, and genocide, we are destined to repeat them. A denial of existence is a betrayal of people’s lived experiences.

For instance, in stories about women’s suffrage, the prevailing narrative is that the 19th Amendment removed gender discrimination from voting across the nation (on paper). However, at the polls, most Black women in the South, like Black men, were blocked by poll taxes, literacy tests, and other racial barriers. Native Americans and Asian immigrants were largely excluded from citizenship. The Voting Rights Act in 1965 sought to remove the barriers to strengthen our democracy. Yet, we have gone from progress to regress: States institute restrictive ID requirements, prohibit mail-in voting and water at voting locations, and forbid people convicted of certain felonies from the right to vote for the rest of their lives.

We continue to live a present history of underinvestment of women

We continue to live a present history of underinvestment and undervaluing women, most clearly women of color. Sadly, the worst perpetrator is the Supreme Court. Its rulings on affirmative action, student debt, and access to abortion directly impact women’s freedom to create the futures they want and deserve. Our bodies are no longer our own. Our wealth gaps will linger longer.

Without addressing these histories and elevating voices that are excluded from the archives, we move further from freedom. However, I am heartened that so many individuals want to write a new history, where women of every background and identity are included.

Here’s how you can begin the assignment with The Women’s Foundation of Colorado:

  • Join us for our upcoming Chat4Change events. One highlights Camille Dungy, the Fort Collins author of “Soil.” As a Black woman, she is writing her legacy through her garden. Another is headlined by Dallas Ducar, a leading trans activist who will help us understand how affirming care is a basic right.
  • Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom needs to collect 185,000 signatures to protect the right to abortion in Colorado. Find your nearest place to sign.
  • Support SB24-053, which will establish the Black Coloradan Racial Equity Study Commission to determine if Colorado state practices, systems, and policies are attributable to impacts of past and current discrimination against Black Coloradans.
  • Share our guides for employers, workers, and job seekers on how the equal pay law covers them. This ensures that a history of being underpaid based on one’s gender and/or race is not our history moving forward. In Colorado, we’re making history with our pay transparency laws. Just last week, we released new data that shows the gender pay gap is closing more quickly here than other states. 

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