Saturday, March 31, 2012

Women's History Month - Peace Pilgrim

Peace Pilgrim
(July 18, 1908 – July 7, 1981)

Mildred Lisette Norman, was a U.S. pacifist, vegetarian, and peace activist. In 1952, she became the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season. Starting on January 1, 1953. In Pasadena, California, she adopted the name "Peace Pilgrim" and walked across the United States for 28 years.

A transcript of a 1964 conversation with Peace Pilgrim from a broadcast on KPFK radio in Los Angeles, California, was published as "Steps Toward Inner Peace". She stopped counting miles in that year, having walked more than 40,000 km (25,000 miles) for peace.

Mildred Norman was born on a poultry farm in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, in 1908, the oldest of three children. Her mother, Josephine Marie Ranch, was a tailor, and her father, Ernest Norman, a carpenter. Although poor, the family were well-thought-of in a community of German immigrants, whose relatives originally settled the area after escaping Germany in 1855.

In 1933 she eloped with Stanley Ryder and moved to Philadelphia in 1939. They divorced in 1946.

Her pilgrimage spanned almost three decades beginning January 1, 1953, in Pasadena, California. The Korean War was in progress. She continued walking for 28 years, spanning the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and beyond. Peace Pilgrim was a frequent speaker at churches, universities, and local and national radio and television.

Expressing her ideas about peace, she referred to herself only as "Peace Pilgrim." Peace Pilgrim's only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her blue tunic which read "Peace Pilgrim" on the front and "25,000 Miles on foot for peace" on the back.

She had no organizational backing, carried no money, and would not even ask for food or shelter. When she began her pilgrimage she had taken a vow to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food."

Peace Pilgrim was a strict vegetarian and did not use fur, feathers, leather or bone. Peace Pilgrim was an early advocate for tolerance for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. She did not believe in discrimination against any human being.

She was awarded the ‘Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award’ -1992

“In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem - it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.”-Peace Pilgrim

On July 7, 1981, while being driven to a speaking engagement near Knox, Indiana, Peace Pilgrim was killed in an automobile accident. At the time of her death, she was crossing the United States for the seventh time.

After her death, she was cremated, and her ashes were interred in a family plot near Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.

Friends of Peace Pilgrim

Friends of Peace Pilgrim is an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to making information about the life and message of Peace Pilgrim available freely to all who ask. Since 1983 they have published and distributed over 400,000 copies of the book, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, and over one and a half million copies of the booklet, Steps Toward Inner Peace. Books and booklets have been sent to over 100 countries. The book has been translated into twelve languages and the booklet into over 20 languages.

I have been an admirer of this woman for many years. I keep a copy of her life and quotations on my coffee table for quick reference. Her only possessions were a comb, a toothbrush, a small notebook and a pencil, all of which she kept in the pockets of the tunic which she wore at all times. I often look around my home and imagine how liberating that would be to reduce my possessions to just basic needs. I have tried to down-size and I do lead a relatively simple lifestyle but I admire Peace Pilgrim for being so dedicated to the peace effort as to spend her every waking moment as an advocate for peace. I never met her but I have read accounts of people who were inspired just by being in her presence.

She led a quiet, gentle lifestyle, while having the courage to stand up for her convictions. My kind of person!


Friday, March 30, 2012

'Bread and Roses' strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts

Bread and Roses

As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for -- but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler -- ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

By James Oppenheim, published in American Magazine in December 1911

The poem above was written as a tribute to the women who conducted a strike in 1911, in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

In 1905 the American Woolen Company built the world's biggest textile plant in Lawrence, hiring Arab, Russian and East European immigrants. By 1911, people of 25 different nationalities lived within a one-mile radius of the mill.

They lived in crowded company-owned tenements. Eight to 10 people from different families shared one living space. Whole families--including children under 14 years old--worked in the mills. The mills were hot and humid. The work was fast paced, with high accident rates.

Rickets were common among children for lack of milk. Nearly half died before they were 6 years old. Over one-third of the mill workers died before age 25, mostly from tuberculosis and other respiratory illnesses.

Jan. 12 was the start of the 1911 'Bread and Roses' strike--one of the most significant struggles in the history of the U.S. working class--in Lawrence, Mass.

A new state law had reduced the work week from 56 to 54 hours. A small gain for workers? Sounds like it. But of course the bosses found a way to gain the advantage. They speeded up the looms and cut the average wage of $6 a week--a last straw for workers living on the edge of starvation.

Some 23,000 people left the mills and poured into the streets in protest.
The Lawrence strike broke new ground in two ways. Women led it. And there was a conscious effort to unite workers of all nationalities. Every union meeting was translated into 25 different languages.

There were four demands: a 15-percent wage increase, a 54- hour work week, double pay for overtime, and rehiring of all strikers without discrimination. The strike drew national and international publicity, and donations began to pour in.

Two months later on March 14, the strikers won a 25-percent raise for the lowest-paid workers and smaller increases for higher-paid workers, time-and-a-quarter pay for overtime, and no discrimination against strikers.

The strikers wanted not only decent pay, but a chance to enjoy the good things of life. They carried signs saying, "We want bread and roses too!"

The women who participated in this strike had the courage to stand up for their rights and their actions made a difference in the future of industrial workers.

They shaped the future of this country and this reinforces for me that notion that if one is aware of injustice then the right thing to do is to speak up against it and let those in power know that it is not acceptable. These women were among the forerunners of equal rights.

The photos above show women of the day working in the factory and also, those on strike being confronted by the National Guard.

During this month we have taken time to celebrate Women's History Month and we give honor to those brave women who have gone before us.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Women's History Month - Eleanor Roosevelt

Women's History Month

Eleanor Roosevelt

- 1884 - 1963

A shy, awkward child, starved for recognition and love, Eleanor Roosevelt grew into a woman with great sensitivity to the underprivileged of all creeds, races, and nations. Her constant work to improve their lot made her one of the most loved women of her generation.

She was born in New York City on October 11, 1884, daughter of lovely Anna Hall and Elliott Roosevelt, younger brother of Theodore. Eleanor was eight when her mother died in 1892, the children went to live with Grandmother Hall; her adored father died only two years later. Attending a distinguished school in England gave her, at 15, her first chance to develop self-confidence among other girls.

Six feet tall, slender, graceful of figure but apprehensive at the thought of being a wallflower, she returned for a debut that she dreaded. In her circle of friends was a distant cousin, handsome young Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She was 19 when they became engaged in 1903 and they were married in 1905. Within eleven years Eleanor bore six children; one son died in infancy.

Franklin served in the NY state Senate from 1910 to 1913 and Eleanor started her long career as political helpmate. When he was stricken with poliomyelitis in 1921, she tended him devotedly. From his successful campaign for governor in 1928 to the day of his death, she dedicated her life to his purposes. She became eyes and ears for him, a trusted and tireless reporter.

FDR and Mrs. Roosevelt came to the White House in 1933, and she understood social conditions better than any of her predecessors. She transformed the role of First Lady accordingly. She broke precedent to hold press conferences, travel to all parts of the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts, and express her opinions candidly in a daily syndicated newspaper column, "My Day."

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for African American contralto, Marian Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. With the aid of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Ms. Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. ER as usual stood up for civil rights and in protest wrote a letter of resignation. (see above)

Another example of her willingness to make change was during WWII, when due to racial discrimination, African American servicemen were not allowed to learn to fly until 1941, when African American college graduates were selected for what the Army called "an experiment" they were assigned to an airfield adjacent to Alabama's Tuskegee Institute. The experiment involved training black pilots and ground support members. The squadron, quickly dubbed the Tuskegee Airmen, was activated on March 22, 1941.
However, no-one would fly with an African American pilot. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited Tuskegee Army Air Field in 1941, she insisted on taking a ride in an airplane with a black pilot at the controls. ER's pilot was Charles Anderson. She then insisted that her flight with Anderson be photographed. Eleanor used this photograph as part of her campaign to convince FDR to activate the participation of the Tuskegee Airmen in North Africa and in the European Theater.
In June 1943, the Tuskegee Airmen entered into combat over North Africa. When the war ended, the Tuskegee Airmen returned home with one hundred and fifty Distinguished Flying Crosses, its success would contribute to the eventual integration of the United States military.

Eleanor was First Lady for 12 years. An outspoken advocate of social justice, she became a moral force during the Roosevelt administration, using her position as First Lady to promote social causes. As a nationally syndicated columnist, popular lecturer, author, party leader, and social activist, ER assured her friends that "my voice will not be silent. ER dedicated her unstinting energy to "winning the peace."

FDR died in 1945 and within a year she began her service as American spokesperson in the United Nations. She became the champion of human rights — dignity, security, respect for all people; and diplomatic justice between nations. Eleanor Roosevelt’s life was dedicated to the eradication of poverty, racism, war and despair.


I have always admired Eleanor Roosevelt, especially her willingness to stand up for others. I am also encouraged to know that a letter written in protest could still be talked about 73 years later. It takes courage to make change in the world and Eleanor Roosevelt is an excellent example of that.


Women's History Month - Eleanor Roosevelt

Resignation letter written by Eleanor Roosevelt to the Daughters of the American Revolution

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reflection for the Fifth Week of Lent

Reflection for the Fifth Week of Lent

A Reading from Jeremiah 31:33

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

A stone sits poised-

Heave it at the Zealot-
sanctimonious crowd.
Punish the harlot.
Stone them until they are dead,
along with our mercy and reason.
Or hold it. Like a worry bead
soft aromas blend meadow,
murmuring stream, swish of sunshine,
until peace with trees and breeze
creates a tranquil heart.

I am the rock
I am the tree and tornado,
savory salt and dead sea.
Within me are rage and rest,
kindness and cruelty,
love and lust,
revenge and forgiveness.
Whether I hurl the stone
or cradle it in peace
is my choice.

- Joanna Lawson

From "Seasons of Worship at Kirkridge"

A Prayer
Liberate us into a greater life, O God.
Give us eyes that see all life
as an expression of your love,
for we are your people!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Water Day - 2012

Today, March 22, 2012, is World Water Day

Most of us have always had access to running hot and cold water and could not imagine life without it. The following paragraph is an excerpt of an article I wrote when I lived in El Salvador, Central America, some years ago.

“I am living in a small room (6’ x 6’) in the local church. I have no TV, no radio, no sink, no phone, and no fridge. Actually, I do have a sink but it is outdoors and I use it to wash clothes and dishes and to store water in daily for use during the times when there is no water available. We do have water on this street but only from 7 am to 11 am every day. (4 hours) and that is not guaranteed. It is actually very liberating washing the body, the clothes and dishes (not at the same time) outdoors in the sunshine. :-) The sink is called a pilar and is very important to the way of life here. One learns to adapt very quickly and as soon as the water is turned on in the morning I hurry to get the very cold water, wash, and get ready for the day.”

While in El Salvador I witnessed many things related to water. I was in a small village outside of Santa Ana and most of the people had no running water. There was a very small waterfall at the end of ‘la linea’ (the railroad line) and the women would bathe there. Washing their hair and showering with their clothing on, while washing their dress at the same time. Then, still wearing the clothing, let it air dry in the sunshine. After this they filled large containers with water and carried them on their head to their homes.

The next village over was Masacua, and all of the people shared one water pump in the center of the village. Later, another more modern water faucet was installed (still only one for the whole village). The entire community turned out for the blessing of the water – giving thanks to God that they finally had clean running water from a deep well. There were no toilets in Masacua at the time I arrived there and a few months later some young men came from Belgium and installed some raised toilets – one for each family. The villagers would chuckle because the toilets were built up high and one had to walk up about eight cement steps to reach it - they were flushed with chemicals and a bucket of water. They named them the ‘tronos real’ (royal thrones).

I witnessed the factories from the United States pumping chemical waste into the local rivers which turned the water dark brown. No concern was given that this was the water that the local people had to drink. I agonized over the fact that in the United States they had to follow environmental safety laws and in Central America there are no such laws and the local children are dying from the contaminated water. I complained loudly to the companies but no one listened. I still feel that if the companies know that their product pollutes the water then they have a moral responsibility to put precautions in place.

In the first weeks that I was there I became very ill from drinking the water and after about two months I decided I would buy bottled water so that I would not get sick again. I'm sorry to tell you that the local people did not have the option to do that and I felt uncomfortable about it but I decided that in order to be effective in my work there I needed to stay healthy.

There was a very ingenious local water site that the men had built. There was a small river in the town from which the men had channeled the water into a swimming pool where the children could play, and the same water was again channeled into about 50 stone community sinks where the women would come and wash their clothes. The wastewater from the sinks was then directed back into the flow of the river. The women would place the clothing on the bushes along the river so that they could dry in the sunshine.

Another common sight was to see men washing daily at a public stone pilar (sink) along the side of the road on their way to work.

I had heard from the women that Health workers from other countries had come to the village to teach the women about the basic hygiene of washing their hands after everything that they do, to prevent the spread of germs. The women explained to me that they felt this was ridiculous as the one heavy container of water that they carried home daily could not be wasted on repeated hand washing.

I could give many more examples. One thing that I learned personally was to value water and when I returned to the U.S. I became very frugal with the use of water. So much so that one day the local Water Department made a visit to my home because they were sure that the water meter must not be working. My bill for several months was only $7. I explained that I had learned how to conserve water while living in Central America. They found it hard to believe but found nothing wrong with the meter. :-)

Friends, according to the United Nations, about 1.4 billion people lack access to clean water and 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation. Because of this, over 9,000 children die daily. Please check out the United Nations website to see what you can do to help.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Vernal Equinox - Happy Spring!

Just as the crocus peeps from the ground in early
spring so new hope arises in our souls.

The spring equinox is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over on the side of light. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star and the east. The Saxon goddess, Eostre (from whose name we get the direction East and the holiday Easter) is a dawn goddess. Just as the dawn is the time of new light, so the vernal equinox is the time of new life.

This is the start of the new year for those who celebrate the festival of Naw Ruz, Persian New Year, which falls on the spring equinox. Happy New Year greetings to my Bah’a’i friends.

Spring is here! To my friends who live in the colder climates, you will understand when I say that Spring is a time when we gladly say goodbye to the snow, ice and freezing temperatures and start to eagerly anticipate the promise of Spring. Today I can actually feel a new energy entering my body and mind as Spring starts to reveal the blossoms, the leaves on the trees, the sprouting of the crops, the mating of birds, the birth of young animals.

In the agricultural cycle, it is time for planting. We are, once again, assured that life will continue. That, no matter what devastation humans are wreaking on this earth, Mother Nature has a Master Plan that cannot be stopped.

In ancient Italy in the spring, women planted gardens of Adonis. They filled urns with grain seeds, kept them in the dark and watered them every two days. This custom persists in Sicily. Women plant seeds of grains — lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers — in baskets and pots. When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the gardens are placed on graves on Good Friday. They symbolize the triumph of life over death. 

Certain foods are associated with springtime festivals: cheese, butter, eggs, pancakes, wheaten cakes, and hot cross buns. Since this is a time when young animals are being born, milk is now available for making cheese and butter. Eggs symbolize new life, of course, and wheaten cakes, grain.

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth, a time of transition when the soul lets go of the old and plants symbolic new seeds, each year with increasing determination and renewed understanding. The warmth of the sun awakens something within us; a new quest generally begins, as if by synchronicity. More hours of daylight propel most souls to move forward, to make needed changes. It is almost an internal drive.

This is the time to symbolically choose ‘seeds’ which represent the things you want to grow during the new year-— wisdom, understanding, patience, etc. Visualize those qualities coming into full bloom in your life as you plant your seeds.

The vernal equinox has been celebrated for thousands of years. There is no shortage of rituals, celebrations and traditions, personal and universal, surrounding the coming of spring. Originally, people celebrated for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. The date is significant in Christianity because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

It is no coincidence that early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it pointed directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox.
The monoliths at Stonehenge mark the position of the rising sun on the Vernal Equinox.

In Central America the Ancient Mayan Caracol Tower and Temples of the Sun and Moon also have alignments that coincide with the sun's position on the Vernal Equinox.

In China they celebrate Chunfen on the Vernal Equinox.

Vernal Equinox Day is an official national holiday in Japan, and is spent visiting family graves, and holding family reunions.

Most of us no longer spend time outdoors, enjoying all the real things that Mother Earth has to offer. Our children sit inside our homes and watch televisions and video games which show made up fantasy programs, convincing us that either the natural world has no value, or our time is better spent elsewhere.

Open the windows and let the fresh air into your homes, sweep out all of the clutter from your closets and your mind. Take a long look at the relationships in your life and ‘clean house’ if necessary. This is a time of regeneration and new life. Let the new season that is taking place in nature take place in your own life as well.

Happy Springtime to you all!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reflection for the Fourth Week of Lent

Reflection for the Fourth Week of Lent

DEVOTIONAL: This week marks the first days of spring, the season of rebirth. During spring, the Earth’s axis is tilted toward the sun and daylight gradually lengthens. This begins the winter thaw, causing the earth to warm and new life to emerge.

It has been a long, cold, dark winter, and I find myself earnestly craving the sunshine of spring. There is a stark contrast between the way I feel on days that are sun-lit and how I feel when the sky is overcast. Exposure to light restores us, renews us and replenishes us. It nourishes our body by infusing us with vitamin D.

In the same way that visceral light energizes us, God’s revealing light illuminates the hope and grace we have been so abundantly given. We have a fantastic opportunity: to quit clinging to our doubts, criticisms and fears, and fully submit to the possibility of change and rebirth in our lives through God.


SCRIPTURE: John 3:14-21 (NRSV)

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

By Grace Eidmann, a senior theater major from Antioch, Ill.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reflection for the Third Week of Lent

Reflection for the Third Week of Lent

"Lent is a time to pause, to reflect and to be silent. Lent is a time when we withdraw to become engaged; when we are contemplative so we can take up activity; when we attend to our own inner yearnings and God's inner nudges so we can take up the cross of justice and work for the way of peace ... Lent is not about doing without, but doing something. This is not a time to give up, but to take on. This is the season when we are asked to be intentional about our relationship with God as we reflect on our rites of passage to wholeness and life." - Jeffrey Steven Gaines, Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church San Francisco

Psalm 19: 7-8

The law of God is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of God is sure,
making wise the simple;
The precepts of God are right,
rejoicing the heart,
The commandment of God is pure
enlightening the eyes.


"There is a really deep well inside me.
And in it dwells God.
Sometimes I am there too.
But more often, stones and grit block the well,
and God is buried beneath.
Then God must be dug out again."
- Etty Hillesum

Dear Lord, We stand here at the well
thirsting for living water. As you fill our cups,
please give us strong and steady hands. Amen

From the Kirkridge Retreat Center
Bangor, Pennsylvania 18013

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Full Worm Moon Tonight - March 8, 2012

March Full Moon

This full moon is the one closest to the March 20 equinox. This equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the southern. In the northern hemisphere, we call tonight’s full moon the Crow Moon, Worm Moon or Sap Moon – all names that suggest winter is giving way to Spring. This March full moon and planet Saturn shine close together from dusk until dawn.

Full Moon names date back to Native American Indians of the northern and eastern United States. They kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring Full Moon. European settlers followed the custom and even created some of their own.

Full Worm Moon - In March as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, welcoming the return of the robins. The more northern indigenous tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, a biblical name referring to the last full Moon of winter.

This Full Moon helps us to recognize, honor, and preserve personal and family traditions in order to bring comfort into our lives and maintain a firm base for future growth. It will help us to discover the importance in remembering where we come from, which will give us a deeper sense of who we are now and how we wish to develop in the future.

Being self-aware will make us stronger, less vulnerable, and protect us from destabilizing, external influences in our lives.

Full Worm moon, Full Crow moon, and Lenten Moon - all the names are fitting - whichever one you choose, make sure that you are outside tonight to enjoy Mother Nature's gift to us.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Women's History Month - March 2012

Women's History Month -March 2012

The public celebration of women's history in this country began in 1978 as "Women's History Week" in Sonoma County, California. The week including March 8, International Women's Day, was selected.
In 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) co-sponsored a joint Congressional resolution proclaiming a national Women's History Week. In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to a month, and March was declared Women's History Month.

Test Your Knowledge of Women's History

1. Who founded Bethune-Cookman College, established the National Council of Negro Women, and served as an advisor on minority affairs to President Franklin D. Roosevelt?

2. What woman was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

3. What Black woman refused to give up her seat to a White man, in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, thus sparking the civil rights movement of the following decade?

4. Who was the first woman to run for President of the United States (1872)?

5. Who opened up social work as a profession for women, and also won the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize for her anti-war organizing work?

6. Which Mexican-American woman has repeatedly been the leading money winner in the Ladies Professional Golf Association?

7. Who was the first woman Poet Laureate of the United States?

8. Who was the first “First Lady” to have developed her own political and media identity?

9. Who wrote the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment, in 1923?

10. Who was the first Black woman elected to Congress?

11. What leading suffragist was arrested and convicted of attempting to vote in the 1872 election?

12. Who was the first Chinese-American woman ever elected to hold a statewide office in the United States?

13. What journalist traveled around the world in 72 days in 1890?

14. What woman was turned down by 29 medical schools before being accepted as a student, graduated at the head of her class, and became the first licensed woman doctor in the U.S.?

15. What former slave was a powerful speaker for the rights of women and Black people?

16. When was the Equal Rights Amendment first introduced into Congress?

17. Who was the last queen of the Hawaiian Islands, deposed because American business interests wanted to annex Hawaii to the U.S.?

18. Which woman was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for holding religious discussion meetings in her home?

19. Who spoke out for the advancement of American Indians’ rights from speaker’s platforms nationwide and before Congressional committees in the 1880s?

20. Who drove a stagecoach across the roughest part of the West without anyone knowing until she died that she was a woman?

21. Who was the first Hispanic woman to serve as U.S. Treasurer?

22. Who was the Shoshone Indian woman who served as guide and interpreter on the Lewis and Clark expedition?

23. Who was Chair of the Board and publisher of The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine, and also oversaw six broadcasting stations?

24. About 20,000 women shirtwaist workers staged a strike for better working conditions. Their action was called the “Uprising of the 20,000.” When and where did this strike occur?

25. When did officials of Little League Baseball announce that they would “defer to the changing social climate” and let girls play on their teams?

26. As vice president of the United Farm Workers, what woman has been vital in speaking for civil and economic rights for farm workers throughout the U.S.?

27. When did Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 go into effect, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded school programs and activities?

28. What woman was invited to teach nuclear physics at Princeton University, even though no female students were allowed to study there?

29. What woman served as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, freeing hundreds of southern slaves and leading them to safety in the North? A $40,000 reward was offered for her capture.

30. What woman is credited with helping free more than 2,000 Chinese women and children smuggled into San Francisco to be sold as slaves?

31. Who was the first African-American woman poet to have her works published?


1. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955)
2. Toni Morrison (b. 1931)
3. Rosa Parks (b. 1920)
4. Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)
5. Jane Addams (1860-1935)
6. Nancy Lopez (b. 1957)
7. Rita Dove (b. 1952)
8. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
9. Alice Paul (1885-1977)
10. Shirley Chisholm (b. 1924)
11. Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
12. March Fong Eu (b. 1929)
13. Nellie Bly (1867-1922), real name Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman
14. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910)
15. Sojourner Truth (C. 1797-1883)
16. 1923
17. Queen Liliuokalani (1838-1917)
18. Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643)
19. Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891)
20. Charlie Parkhurst
21. Romana BaƱuelos (b. 1925)
22. Sacajawea (c. 1786-1812)
23. Katherine Graham (b. 1917-2001)
24.1909, New York City
25. 1974
26. Dolores Huerta (b. 1930)
27. 1976
28. Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)
29. Harriet Tubman (c. 1820-1913)
30. Donaldina Cameron (1869-1968)
31. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)

(Questions provided by National Women's History Project)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reflection for the Second Week of Lent

Reflection for the Second Week of Lent

A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 8:34-36

And Jesus summoned the multitude with the disciples, and said to them, "If any would come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who would save their life will lose it; and those who lose their life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it. For what advantage is it, to gain the whole world and forfeit one's life? "

A Lenten Exercise of Nonviolence
From a column by Father John Dear, SJ

Recently, a friend and I were discussing how it took Thomas Merton, the great monk, 20 years in a Trappist monastery, before he began to deal seriously with his own inner violence. Look it up. On August 21,1962, he wrote in his journal:

Today I realize with urgency the absolute seriousness of my need to study and practice nonviolence. Hitherto I have "liked" nonviolence as an idea. I have "approved" it, looked with benignity upon it, praised it even earnestly. But I have not practiced it fully. My thoughts and words retaliate. I condemn and resist adversaries when I think I am unjustly treated. I revile them, even treat them with open (but polite) contempt to their face. The energy wasted in contempt, criticism and resentment is thus diverted from its true function -- insistence on truth.

If such is the case with Merton, certainly with us. Our following the nonviolent Jesus requires the daily inner work of deepening nonviolence. And what a better time than Lent? It's a time to look deeply at what's going on inside us and, where we are violent, to repent and then to offer ourselves mercy. The more we show compassion toward ourselves, the more we will toward our neighbors.


Come Lord!
Do not smile and say
you are already with us.
Millions do not know you
and to us who do,
what is the difference?
What is the point
of your presence
if our lives do not alter?
Change our lives, shatter
our complacency.
Make your word
flesh of our flesh,
blood of our blood
and our life's purpose.
Take away the quietness
Of a clear conscience.
Press us uncomfortably.
For only thus
That other peace is made,
Your peace.

-Dom Helder Camara

From the Kirkridge Retreat Center - Bangor, Pennsylvania 18013